A Chinese herb Tripterygium wilfordii or thunder god vine (gotta love that name!) was recently studied for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. This is a disease which can cause serious and permanent deformities in joints and can affect other organs as well.
One treatment that is often used is Methotrexate, which has some nasty side effects. In a recent published study the thunder god vine was at least as effective as Methotrexate. Side effects from the herb included loss of hair loss and menstrual problems.
Lest you start to go to some herbal shop and tried to buy dried thunder god vine, you should know that the leaf, stem and unpeeled root if ingested can kill you. What was used in the study was peeled root and was pharmaceutical grade. That means that the end product has an exact amount of the active ingredient and looks like a pill.
Furthermore, this was a single study which lasted only a short time. Will thunder god vine be effective years after it was started? Will other long term side effects emerge? And the dose of Methotrexate was less than the dose used in this country.
The jury is still out on this herb and rest assured that some big pharmaceutical company has its eyes on the prize. Expect more studies in the next few years. It seems that the thunder god has not yet thrown a thunder bolt.