Tripterygium herb benefit for autoimmune disorders, safety, availability
November 15 2016

Tripterygium wilfordii is a perennial vine growing in southern China. The herb, also called Lei Gong Teng (Thunder God Vine or “three-wing nut”), has been used in Chinese medicine for treatment of fever, edema, and carbuncles for centuries. It has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive activity.

What’s in the plant?
Tripterygium contains terpinoids such as triptolide, tripdiolide, tripchlorolide, demethylzelastral, wilforlide B, and wilforlide, wilfortrine, wilfordine, wilforgine and wilforine, Another research paper called them sesquiterpene alkaloids: Wilfortrine, wilfordine, wilforgine and wilforine. We don’t know enough about this type of chemistry to determine whether terpinoids and sesquiterpene alkaloids are related.

Clinical uses
Rheumatoid arthritis condition. RA
Lupus disease, SLE
Leiomyomas (uterine fibroids)

Autoimmune disorders
Benefit of triptolide found in tripterygium for autoimmune conditions
Triptolide alters mitochondrial functions.
Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007. Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, USA.
Triptolide, a small molecule purified from the herb Tripterygium wilfordii, has potential clinical application for suppression of chronic autoimmune disorders and inhibition of tumor growth. In this study, the effect of Triptolide on mitochondria was explored with a panel of molecular probes that detect the alteration of mitochondrial functions. When Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells were treated with different doses of Triptolide for four hours, impaired mitochondrial functions were detected. This included an increased production of reactive oxygen species, the opening of the transition pore of mitochondria, the depolarization of the mitochondria membrane, the inhibition of the production of ATP and increased release of ATP as well as the induction of apoptosis. It is likely that by impairment of mitochondrial function, Triptolide exerts its inhibitory effect on growth of tumor and progression of inflammatory disease.

Caution and safety
Tripterygium has anti-fertility effect in male rats and in men after oral administration at dose levels not showing apparent toxicity or side effects. Fertility appears to be reversible after cessation of treatment.

Tripterygium therapy may cause amenorrhea in women
Long-term administration could decrease bone mineral density levels in women.
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