Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F is a plant of the genus Tripterygium of the family celastraceae. Many preparations, mainly from its root, have been used clinically, among which the polyglycoside (TP) has shown better effects.
Many side-effects, however, have been reported. About 45% of patients who received TP complained of such adverse effects as skin rashes, skin pigmentation, stomatitis and softening of finger nails. In female patients treated with TP, reduction of menses was noted 4 weeks after initiation of therapy, and amenorrhea was observed in 30% and 90% of the cases respectively 3 months after and 6 months after starting use of the extract.
Amongst male patients, sperm count and motility was reduced and the sperm disappeared completely after a month. In general, the longer the duration of administration and the older the patients, the smaller the probability of their menses or sperm returning to normal. Frequent upper abdominal pain, nausea and reduced appetite were also reported, and impairment of hepatic and renal functions appeared in a few cases. [Chin Med J (Taipei) 1996; 57: S35]
Ankylosing spondylitis responded to TP (polyglycoside extract of Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F), sulfasalazine and methotrexate with effectiveness rates of 85%, 60% and 60% respectively after 6 months of treatment. In most cases treated with TP, alleviation was noted in symptoms of the spine and joints 2 weeks after starting the extract, and improvement in pain and swelling of joints and backache was observed 2 weeks later. [Chin Med J (Taipei) 1996; 57: S35]
Amongst patients with lupus nephritis who were unresponsive to prednisone and other immunosuppressive drugs, combined administration of prednisone and TP (polyglycoside extract of Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F) resulted in reduction or even complete disappearance of protein in the urine in 40-50% of cases. Many side-effects, however, have been reported. [Chin Med J (Taipei) 1996; 57: S35]
Treatment with an extract of Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (360-570mg per day) improved clinical manifestations and laboratory findings in a study of 13 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Three patients withdrew during the first 16 weeks of dose escalation, including one patient who developed diastolic hypertension at a dose of 180mg per day. [J Rheumatol 2001;28(10): pp.2160-7]
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