Thunder God Vine
Scientific Name(S): Tripterygium wilfordii Hook.
Common Name(S): Lei kung t'eng, lei gong teng (Chinese), thunder god vine, huang-t'eng ken (yellow vine root), tsao-ho-hua( early rice flower)
BotanyTripterygium is a perennial twining vine that grows in Southern China, usually close to water sources. It is native to the Hunan province. It has reddish-brown branches with oval leaves. In the summer, small white terminal flowers bloom.
Thunder god vine has antifertility properties. In clinical trials it has been effective in treating autoimmune disease. Thunder god vine has shown antiviral and antitumor activity.
Side effects include gastrointestinal upset, infertility, suppression of white blood cells, amenorrhea, and one incidence of death.
The thunder god vine has been used for centuries in traditional chinese medicine to treat fever, boils, abscesses, and inflammation. It has also been put maggots or larvae and as a rat and bird poison.
Triterpene compounds (eg, tripterygone) have been isolated from thunder god vine roots. Also found in the plant's roots are diterpenoid triepoxides, triptolide, and tripdiolide. A new diterpene triepoxide, 16-hydroxytiptolide, has been isolated from the leaves of the plant. A nortriterpenoid has also been isolated. An anti-HIV constituent, neotripterifordin, has been recently identified. Six diterpene epoxides have been identified, and listed as triptolide, triipdiolide, triptolidenol, tripchloroilde, 16-hydroxytriptolide, and one other unpublished structure.
The thunder god vine has been used in ancient Chinese medicine for centuries. Most studies evaluate its role in autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, but recently its antifertility effects in men have been of interest. The plant also possesses antiviral and antitumor actions. Side effects of the drug include GI upset and lymphocyte proliferation. Amenorrhea and at least one death have been reported from ingestion.
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