Chinese MedicineRheumatoid Diseases

Western medicine vs traditional Chinese herbal medicine for rheumatoid arthritis

Both treatments showed positive responses.

First, the details.

  • 396 patients were randomly assigned to treatment.
    • Western medicine (WM): diclofenac extended-release tablets (Diclofenac), methotrexate, and sulfasalazine.
    • Traditional Chinese herbal medicine (TCM): Glucosidorum Tripterygll Totorum tablets and Yishen Juanbi tablets.
  • The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) response criteria were used to evaluate the response
    • ACR20 response: a 20% reduction in the number of swollen and tender joints, and a reduction of 20% in 3 of the following: physician global assessment, patient global assessment, patient assessment of pain, C-reactive protein or erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and degree of disability.
    • ACR50 requires a 50% reduction.

And the results.

  • ACR20 and ACR50 responses with WM treatment were higher at 24 weeks than in the TCM group.
    • 89% achieved ACR20 with WM vs 66% with TCM.
  • In the WM group, effectiveness was related to a positive response in joint tenderness and thirst, but with subjective symptoms of dizziness.
  • In the TCM group, effectiveness was positively related to less joint tenderness and pain, but negatively related to joint stiffness and nocturia (excessive urination at night).

The bottom line?
Both of the specific combinations studied provided a positive response in most patients.

In an earlier study, adding TCM (G. lucidum and San Miao San) improved the ADC20 response in patients who were also taking disease modifying antirheumatic drugs.

1/8/08 21:05 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.