Nature's chemotherapy for cancer and rheumatoid arthritis

July 21, 2015
Volume 5    |   Issue 59

Chemotherapy, one of the most common treatments for cancer, is also a treatment doctors use to treat rheumatoid arthritis. While the doses used to treat RA are much smaller than those used for cancer, there are still side effects. Fortunately, scientists are now giving more attention to a plant that could be nature's chemotherapy for both of these conditions.

I told you about the plant on Saturday. It's the thunder god vine. Much like chemo, the leaves and flowers of the plant are poisonous. But the root has powerful healing abilities. I've already shown you how it might be able to help people lose weight. Now let's look at its ability to treat RA and cancer.

As I mentioned on Saturday, the Chinese have used thunder god vine for centuries because of its ability to suppress the immune system. So for a few decades, researchers have focused a lot of attention on RA. For instance, in 2006, a review of randomized clinical trials found that thunder god vine improved rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. However, as I warned previously, there were serious side effects. This can happen with improper use, so it's wise to use a doctor that knows how to use this particular treatment.

In 2009, researchers gave 60 mg of thunder god vine to 121 RA patients three times a day. They all had a better response than those taking 1 gram of sulfasalazine (a common sulfa drug used to treat RA) twice a day.

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And in 2014, a group of Chinese researchers followed 207 RA patients. They divided the participants into four groups. One took a placebo. The other groups took either thunder god vine (20 mg three times a day), methotrexate (12.5 mg per week), or a combination of the two. The researchers found that all three treatment groups did much better than the placebo. But the patients who received both the thunder god vine and the methotrexate had the best response.

What's interesting about the last study is that the researchers used methotrexate. This drug is used as chemotherapy for several kinds of cancer, including cancer of the blood, bone, lung, breast, head, or neck. And it also treats rheumatoid arthritis. This study indicates that it's possible you could take thunder god vine along with chemo (should you decide to use it) and receive better results. Two other studies indicate thunder god vine could be a valuable tool in the treatment of cancer.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center found that triptolide, a major compound in thunder god vine, is very effective against cancer. They treated mice with triptolide and found that after 40 days, none of them had any further incidence of tumors. And even after stopping the treatment, the tumors stayed away. Ashok Saluja, vice chairman of research and the study's leader, said, "You could see every day you looked at those mice, the tumor was decreasing and decreasing, and then just gone."

Then scientists at John Hopkins School of Medicine looked at thunder god vine. They also found that it was highly effective at eliminating cancerous tumors. Jun O. Liu, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins, wrote: "triptolide has been shown to block the growth of all 60 U.S. National Cancer Institute cell lines at very low doses, and even causes some of those cell lines to die."

It looks like thunder god vine truly is nature's chemotherapy. While the roots of this plant seem to be safe for treatment, both RA and cancer are tricky to treat. You'll want to work with your doctor before incorporating them in your treatment regimen. But doing so could offer significant benefit. It's worth having the conversation with an integrative physician to see what your options are.

Your insider for better health,

Steve Kroening

Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.


Canter PH, Lee HS, Ernst E. A systematic review of randomised clinical trials of Tripterygium wilfordii for rheumatoid arthritis. Phytomedicine. 2006;13(5):371–377.

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