Volume 11 Issue 214
Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 18-Aug-2009 
Next Update - 14:00 UC 08:00 EST 19-Aug-2009

Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
Vidyya.
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Chinese herbal remedy shows promise for treating rheumatoid arthritis

(17 August 2009: VIDYYA MEDICAL NEWS SERVICE) -- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes painful and debilitating swelling of the joints. Physicians often prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as sulfasalazine for the initial treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Despite the clinical efficacy of these types of drugs, many patients discontinue treatment due to lack of improvement or adverse events.

The Chinese herbal remedy Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (TwHF) (also known as "lei gong teng" or "thunder god vine") has shown promise in treating autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. Researchers randomly assigned 121 patients to take either TwHF root extract 60mg three times per day or sulfasalazine 1g two times per day for 24 weeks.

The researchers used a standard measure of joint involvement to determine treatment outcomes. Many patients in both groups discontinued treatment. However, among those who continued treatment for 24 weeks, improvement was greater with TwHF (67%) than with sulfasalazine (36%) and adverse event rates were similar. The resulst were similar in analyses that adjusted for patient drop-out. Researchers conclude that the rapid improvement in joint symptoms may make TwHF extract an attractive and affordable alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs.

Annals of Internal Medicine - 18 August 2009 Issue

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