TUESDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with active rheumatoid arthritis, treatment with peeled roots of the Chinese herbal remedy Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (TwHF) may be effective and safe, according to a study published in the Aug. 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Raphaela Goldbach-Mansky, M.D., of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues randomly assigned 121 patients to receive either daily TwHF extract or sulfasalazine. Participants were allowed to use stable doses of oral prednisone and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as needed.
After 24 weeks, the researchers found that TwHF was associated with a significantly higher rate of achievement of 20 percent improvement than sulfasalazine (65 versus 32.8 percent) in the 62 patients who completed the study. They also found that there were no significant group differences in rates of adverse events.
"The rapid improvement in function and pain and the profound effect on inflammation may make this extract an attractive and affordable alternative to currently available agents," the authors conclude. "The long-term effects and toxicities and the potential combination of TwHF with other antirheumatic therapies need to be addressed in further studies."
One author reported two patents related to the use of TwHF. Authors also reported financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.