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Chinese Herbal Remedy May Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most debilitating and progressive diseases today. This medical condition is chronic, is progressive and can bring about disability. A new study has found out that one Chinese herbal remedy may be effective for rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This autoimmune disease can cause inflammation or swelling and pain in the joints and other organs of the human body. Rheumatoid arthritis can more commonly affect the joints of the hands and of the feet, though any joint can be affected. These patients with rheumatoid arthritis often develop stiff joints and can feel tried and unwell.


Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, just like any other person with an autoimmune disease, often have antibodies in their blood which have the ability of attacking their own body tissues to result to inflammation. These autoantibodies can attack the lining of the joints, causing them to swell and become inflamed. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the lining of the joints unlike osteoarthritis which brings about wear-and-tear damage. These results in painful swelling that can erode bones and bring about jouint deformities. There may be permanent damage to the affected joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the other parts of the body because it is a systemic illness. The patient may have fevers and have fatigue as well as diffuse inflammation in the lungs and its coverings, the heart and its coverings, and the sclera of the eyeball. It can also form nodular lesions under the skin. It is also said that patients with rheumatoid arthritis can also have a higher risk of heart attack compared to other people.

Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than in men and is also more common after the age of 40, although a juvenile form of arthritis can also occur in children and teenagers. The illness is much more common than multiple sclerosis or leukemia. This can be a very painful condition which can make people lose function and mobility. Diagnosis is usually made by a rheumatologist after several blood tests and X-rays. Early treatment of symptoms can slow down the progression of this disease.

The signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may develop gradually over a few weeks of months. There may be stiffness in at least one joint and pain when the joint is moved. There may also be tenderness in the said joint. The first symptoms are usually felt in the joints of the fingers and toes. The disease may affect at least five joints at the same time. The most commonly affected joints are the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) and metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints of the hands which may involve the middle and base joints of the finger, the wrist especially the ulnar-styloid articulation, the shoulders, the elbows, the knees, the ankles and the    metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints in the toes.

The spine may never be affected, except the atlanto-axial articulation in late disease. The hallmark symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is morning stiffness which usually lasts for an hour. Stiffness may also occur after long periods of inactivity. There may also be joint pain and swelling and the skin over the joint may become red, warm and swollen. There may also be pain and tenderness on the affected joint. Rheumatoid arthritis can also bring about anemia, weight loss, redness and puffiness of the hands, fatigue, malaise, depression and fever.  These symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may be intermittent or sporadic and may have flare-ups over time, which may be more intense and severe.

Complications may include inflammation of the lungs, inflammation of the heart and the blood vessels, inflammation of the outer white coat of the eyeball, nodular lesions, inflammation of the tear glands, inflammation of the salivary glands and inflammation of the cricoarytenoid joint which is the joint of the larynx.

A Chinese Herbal Remedy of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Recent research published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases has talked about a traditional Chinese herbal remedy that can relieve joint pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. This remedy is said to act on the said medical condition like methotrexate. Furthermore, combining the herbal remedy with methotrexate”the disease modifying drug (DMARD) most commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis”was more effective than treatment with methotrexate alone, the findings showed.

This herbal remedy, called Triptergium wilfordii Hook F, or TwHF for short, is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat joint pain, swelling, and inflammation, and is already approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in China. The study gathered data from 207 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. The results showed that TwHF is comparable to the effect of methotrexate in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

To read more about rheumatoid arthritis, feel free to read our other articles on this site.