Healing Powers of Thunder God Vine

Researchers find how triptolide fights cancer and rheumatoid arthritis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A traditional Chinese medicinal plant called thunder god vine, or lei gong ten, has been used for centuries to treat a variety of health problems. Now, new research shows there is strong scientific evidence of the plant's healing power.

Thunder god vine is known to fight cancer in addition to inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. It has also been used as a type of birth control. Now, researchers have uncovered what may give the plant its medicinal qualities.

dailyRx Insight: Thunder god vine can help fight cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

Studies on animals have shown that triptolide - the active ingredient in thunder god vine - triggers a sequence of actions that inhibits multiple parts of DNA. At the end of this sequence, RNA polymerase II (RNAP II) - an enzyme that is important in DNA transcription - is stopped and a mechanism for DNA repair is triggered.

Basically, triptolide's role is to interfere with the genetic causes of cancer and inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

These research findings also suggest that triptolide may help overcome certain cancers' ability to fight off anticancer drugs.

As always, speak with your physician before taking any natural supplements for treatment of any medical condition.

Cancer is diagnosed in over 12 million people each year, kills over 7 million and one out of ever three people will be diagnosed with an invasive cancer at some point in their lifetime in the United States. Cancer is a group of diseases classified by abnormal and uncontrolled cellular growth in a particular organ or tissue type in the body. Cancer is caused by a multitude of factors including genetics and infections, but a majority of cancers can be attributed to environmental causes, such as smoking, and being exposed to carcinogens or radiation. Cancer will produce symptoms that affect the organ it is located in, such as coughing and shortness of breath from a lung cancer, constipation and bloody stools from colon cancer, or headaches and cognitive problems from a brain cancer. Other cancers such as leukemia and blood cancers may produce flu-like symptoms and sudden infections. Some cancers may be discovered by physical evidence, such as feeling a lump in breast cancer. Treatment for cancer is usually one of, or a combination of, surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Newer treatments such as hormonal drugs and targeted drugs (Herceptin in breast cancer, Erbitux in colon cancer, Avastin in several) are making cancer treatment even more specific to the patient and the disease. Diagnosis is based off of physical examination and several imaging techniques such as MRI, PET scan laparoscopy and when a pathologist examines a piece of cancerous tissue.

There are approximately 1.3 million rheumatoid arthritis sufferers in the United States, about 75 percent of whom are women. Rheumatoid arthritis damages the joints, most commonly in the hands, feet, and cervical spine. Inflammation can also affects other organs and systems in the body such as the skin, lungs (fibrosis), kidneys (amyloid protein deposits), and cardiovascular system (increased risk for heart attack and stroke, as well as fibrosis and pericarditis). There are many prescription medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis such as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), chloroquine (Aralen), leflunomide (Arava), and methotrexate (Rheumatrex ). Non-pharmacological treatment includes psychical therapy, orthoses, and nutritional therapy but these do not stop progression of joint destruction. Analgesics (painkillers) and anti-inflammatory drugs, including steroids, are used to suppress the symptoms, while disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are required to inhibit or halt the underlying immune process and prevent long-term damage. Recently the newer group of biologics, such as abatacept (Orencia), adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), and rituximab (Rituxan) have increased treatment options. A clinical diagnosis can be made on the basis of symptoms, physical exam, radiographs, x-rays and lab tests.

The report on thunder god vine is published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 25, 2011
Last Updated:
March 28, 2011