How Thunder God Vine Could Improve Pancreatic Cancer Outcomes

Could the perennial thunder god vine, usually found in China and Taiwan, be aptly named? Does it provide a strong and beneficial impact? According to Medical Xpress, this vine, also known as léi gōng téng or Tripterygium wilfordii, actually does show promise for patients with pancreatic cancer. A preclinical study published in Oncogenesis suggests that this compounds from this herb could kill cancer cells and improve patient outcomes.

Thunder God Vine

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, thunder god vine:

has been used for hundreds of years in traditional Chinese medicine to treat swelling caused by inflammation. Currently, thunder god vine is used orally as a dietary supplement for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus.

The extract, used medicinally, is sourced from the vine’s roots. Without proper preparation, this can be toxic. As a result, thunder god vine should be sourced from a reputable source (most likely a healthcare provider). Side effects of thunder god vine use include rash, diarrhea, headache, hair loss, changes in menstruation, and infertility.

Triptolide is one of the main bioactive ingredients sourced from thunder god vine. Researchers used Triptolide to create a drug called Minnelide. When administered, Minnelide attacks, damages, and kills pancreatic cancer cells. In specific cases, these cells attempt to protect itself from immune response by wrapping the tumor in stroma, a type of supportive tissue. However, Triptolide subverts the stroma’s genetic stability by attacking super-enhancers, allowing for increased access to cancerous cells. Although researchers determined that Triptolide does have anti-tumor properties, additional research is needed to evaluate its efficacy in treating pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer

Your pancreas is an organ that sits behind the lower part of your stomach. Altogether, your pancreas benefits your food digestion through releasing enzymes, and also your blood sugar management through releasing hormones. However, when abnormal pancreatic cells begin to multiply, tumors form. There is no known cause for the cell mutation which prompts pancreatic cancer development. There are multiple forms of pancreatic cancer. However, the more common forms are exocrine pancreatic cancer, which begins in the pancreatic ducts, and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, which start in the pancreas’ neuroendocrine cells. Risk factors include a family history of pancreatic cancer, obesity, and smoking tobacco.

In many cases, patients are asymptomatic during the earlier stages of cancer development. When symptoms do appear, they may include:

  • Dark urine and light stool
  • Fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Abdominal and back pain
  • Intense itching
  • Obstructed bowel
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Blood clots
  • Depression
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Diabetes

Learn more about pancreatic cancer.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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