Lupus also is known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), is a distressing condition that is a result of a faulty immune system functioning of the body.

In lupus patients, the body’s own immune cells attack the healthy cells causing inflammation in the body. [1]

The main symptoms of lupus include joint pain, stiffness and swelling, fatigue, butterfly-shaped rashes on the face, and headache. [2]

The development of lupus in a patient may be influenced by genetic factors.

The symptoms appear when the patient comes in contact with environmental triggers like sunlight and stress or it can also be triggered by certain medications and infections. [3]

Women are known to be at a higher risk of developing this condition. they generally develop symptoms from their teenage up to the age of 45 years. [4]

Unfortunately, there is no therapy that can cure lupus completely. However, it can be well managed by medication and certain complementary and alternative medicines. [5] [6]

What is Tripterygium wilfordii?

Tripterygium wilfordii, also known as thunder god vine and lei gong teng, is a medicinal plant that is used in Chinese traditional medicine.[7] It is a perineal plant that is grown in Southern China.

It has been used by the Chinese civilization for about 200 years to manage diseases that activate inflammatory responses in the body like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, diabetes etc. [8]

This herb is now also been identified for its anti-obesity and anti-cancer properties that makes it even more valuable part of herbal medicine. [9] [10]

This herb also provides nerve protection, in preventing heart diseases and metabolic diseases like diabetes. [11]

The main active chemicals present in this herb is known as triptolide, tripdiolide, triptonide, and celastrol.[12] [13]

Out of these active constituents, triptolide and celastrol impart the properties of anti-inflammation, anti-cancer, and immunosuppressive effects. [14]

Benefits of Tripterygium wilfordii in Lupus

Benefits of Tripterygium wilfordii in Lupus is due to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effect.

It has been established by clinical trials that T. wilfordii can reduce the inflammatory markers in the body and helping the lupus patients better manage their disease.

It has also been demonstrated to reduce facial rash, joint pain, stiffness and swelling as well.

Benefits of Tripterygium Wilfordii (Thundergod Vine) for Lupus

1. T. wilfordii has Anti-Inflammatory Effects that

Inflammation is a focal issue in lupus that leads to all its symptoms. Controlling inflammation is a main therapeutic goal to be achieved through any type of interventions.

The anti-inflammatory effects of T.wilfordii have been studies and proven by numerous scientific studies. [15]

In a meta-analysis (a study that validates a result by pooling many trials on the relevant topic) which included 14 clinical trials that studied T.wilfordii’s effect on inflammation. [16]

This study strongly affirmed the effectiveness of reducing the inflammatory markers (C-reactive Protein and Interleukin-6) in the body. [17] [18]

It is also proven to reduce Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) in the body which is an indicator for the infection levels in the body. [19]

The anti-inflammatory effect of T.wilfordii is also found to produce better response rates in patients when compared with patients treated with sulfasalazine. [20]

What does this Mean? T. wilfordii is a potent herb that is proven to be extremely effective in the reduction of inflammation in the body. This property can be used to manage inflammation in lupus patients.

2. T. wilfordii Helps in Reducing the Symptoms of Lupus Patients

T. wilfordii was used traditionally by the Chinese to reduce the symptoms of joint pain and stiffness.

A study including 23 lupus patients proved that it can reduce joint pain and reduce the appearance of rash in lupus patients. [21]

Another clinical trial with demonstrated pain relief achieved through topical T. wilfordii use in 90% of its trial patients when compared with placebo. [22]

Research also proves the effect of T. wilfordii has a good effect on reducing the pain scores and better joint damage profile in patients. [23]

A large number of studies in patients with lupus is not available yet. However, the similar joint symptoms in related inflammatory diseases have been proven to be reduced which advocates for the use of this herb in lupus.

What does this Mean? Tripterygium wilfordii can also benefit lupus patients by reducing the symptoms. It can help lupus patients in reducing joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Moreover, it is also shown to reduce lupus rash.

3. T. wilfordii Can Help Lupus Patients in Curing Kidney Damage from Lupus

About 30-50% of the lupus sufferers have been identified to develop kidney disease that is called Lupus nephritis.[24]

Lupus Nephritis is as the result of the pressure exerted on the kidneys while excreting immune complexes generated in the body due to faulty immune system mechanism. [25]

Animal studies have shown that T. wilfordii is effective in treating lupus nephritis. [26] The chemical called triptolide present in T wilfordii is responsible for this effect. [27]

Further research studies in human trials can be more beneficial in confirming this effect that can benefit lupus patients.

What does this Mean? Lupus patients tend to develop kidney disease in most cases T. wilfordii has been proven through some preliminary research to be beneficial in reversing this kidney damage.

How to Use

T. wilfordii extracts of triptolide can be used to treat lupus in patients. Leaves and root preparation can also be used effectively. [28]

A tablet of T. wilfordii extract containing 5mg can be taken thrice daily to prevent lupus symptoms and reduce inflammation. [29]

An exact dosage has not been established regarding this herb. Therefore, one must be careful and must obtain medical advice before using the same. [30]

Precautions

A Chinese scientific study that was published in 2018 has strongly proven safety as well as the efficacy of the T.wilfordii by studying fourteen clinical trials in humans. [31]

Some adverse effects and toxicity of this drug in higher doses have been identified by researchers. Therefore, it is highly imperative that one used the correct dose and do it under medical supervision. [32]

T. wilfordii can cause adverse effects like gastrointestinal problems, liver function changes, reproductive toxicity, renal toxicity, and menstrual problems. [33] [34] [35]

The adverse effects can be prevented or reduced by reducing the dosage. [36]

Conclusion

Tripterygium wilfordii is a perineal medicinal herb that has been in use for many years by the Chinese to treat arthritis and related diseases.

Enough scientific data suggests the benefits of T. wilfordii in the treatment of lupus. It mainly helps by reducing inflammation in the body.

Tripterygium wilfordii also has an established benefit in the reduction of joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and rashes that can be helpful in lupus management.

More research regarding the effects of T. wilfordii can establish its effects on lupus-related kidney disease as well.

The use of T. wilfordii at low doses has been regarded to be safe through many studies. Nevertheless, like most lupus medications, it possesses adverse effects which mandate some precautionary measures along with medical guidance.

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