RA Herb Research Promising, but Inconclusive

Thunder God Vine Extract vs Methotrexate

Practitioners in a Chinese hospital in Beijing use thunder god vine extract to treat approximately 20,000 people each year. They conducted the 24-week research project in order to evaluate the effectiveness of using the herbal extract, methotrexate, or combination of both products for pain management.

The researchers determined that the herbal extract worked as well as methotrexate. Individuals who received the medication as well as the herbal extract had the best results.

Recipients of the herbal extract received 20mg of root extract by mouth three times daily. Methotrexate recipients received 7.5mg of methotrexate weekly, which was then increased to 12.5 mg of the drug weekly, over a four-week period. The methotrexate recipients were also provided with 10mg of folic acid weekly. The combination group received methotrexate, folic acid, and the thunder god vine extract.

Out of 207 participants, 174 completed the study. Out of the 174 people, 55% of the thunder god vine extract and 46% of the methotrexate group met the predetermined measurement for successful treatment. Almost 77% of the combination group had success.

The researchers concluded that the thunder god vine extract was not inferior to methotrexate. They determined that the combination therapy was most effective. Researchers in this study considered the use of thunder vine to be safe and effective.

Thunder God Vine Side Effects

A 2006 study indicated that while thunder god vine does improve symptoms of RA, it also produces serious side effects including infertility in some individuals. The study found thunder god vine root extract could cause nausea, vomiting, skin reactions, and an array of other untoward reactions.


The leaves and flowers of the plant are toxic and can cause death. Since the herb has immune suppressant actions, the likelihood of contracting serious infections increases among users of the extract. Menses may cease among women who take the root extract. Infertility in men may be temporary.

The herb should not be used except under the supervision of a highly qualified expert. It interacts with medications, including steroids, which are commonly used to treat RA.

Use of Thunder God Vine for RA Treatment

More and larger studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy and effectiveness of thunder god vine. The plant has the potential to cause serious side effects so it should not be used except under the supervision of a highly qualified practitioner.

In my opinion, there is not enough information available regarding safety. I would also want to ensure that the herb is correctly identified and only the root used. This is one case where a standardized, professionally prepared extract is needed.

Next page: herbal remedies that relieve RA symptoms.

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