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1. Description

2. Names

6. Distribution

7. Properties

8. Actions & Indications

9. Chemical ingredients

10. Medical Functions:

(1). Effects on immune system

(2). Anti-inflammatory

(3). Anti-cancer effects

(4). Effect on conception

(5). Eff. on urinary system

(6). Eff. on anti organism

       and worms 

(7). Other Effects

(8). Effects on  rejection

(9). Inside the body

(10). Effects of toxicity

(11). Other Research

(12). Modern clinical application

13. Toxicity and side effects

14. Antidotes

15. Picture of the plant

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lei gong teng, (thunder god vine)

Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. F. Click to go to Main Page

Translated and edited by:

Joe Hing KwokChu                                                     


The herb of lei gong teng comes from the roots,

leaves and flowers of the tripterygium wilfordii

Hook. f. It is collected during summer and autumn.

Lei gong teng is a deciduous climbing vine growing

to 12 meters,  with brown, angular, downy twigs.

The leaves are light green, smooth on top, and pale

gray with light hairs underneath.  They have crenate

margins and pointed apexes,  and are ovate to elliptic,

5-15 cm long, 2.5 - 7 cm wide. The scented

hermaphroditic (having male and female organs) flowers,

which bloom in September, are small and whitish with

five petals and are about 9 mm across, in terminal panicles

in July. The fruit is 3-winged, and brownish red, about

1.5 cm long. The plant can grow in light (sandy), medium

(loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. It can survive in acid,

neutral and basic (alkaline) soil.  It can grow  in semi

-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Pharmaceutical name: Radix Tripterygium wilfordii 

Biological name: Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. f.

Pronunciation in Cantonese:  lui kong teng

Common Name: three-wing-nut

Distribution: native of southern part of mainland China,

Taiwan, Burma

Properties (characteristics): bitter and very toxic 

Actions & Indications: for: anti-inflammatory,  killing worms,

resolving toxin, treating proteinuric renal disease, using as

immuno-suppressive agent on autoimmune diseases.

Chemical ingredients:

1. Saponins:

(1). wilforgine, wilforgine-B,wifordine, wilfornine, wilfortrine,

wilforttrine-D, wilforzine[1-3], wilformine [4], wilfordinc acid,

 hydroxywilfordii acid [5], wilfornine [6], neowilforine [7]

(2). celacinnine, celafurine, celabenzine, celallocinnine [8-9]

(3). triptofordinine A-1, A-2 [10],  triptofordin D-1, D-2, E [11],

triptofordin A, B, C-1 C-2 [12],triptofordin F-1, F-2, F-3, F-4 [13]

2. Diterpene group

(1). triptolide, tripdiolide[14], triptonide,[14-15],tripterolide[16].

(2.). triptolidenol [16-17], tripnolide [18],neotriptophenolide,

triptophenolide methyl ether [19], isoneotrip-tophenolide,

hypolide methyl ether [20].

(3). triptonoterpene, triptonoterpene methyl ether [17], 

triptonoterpenol [21]12-ydroxy-abieta-8, 11, 13 -trien-3-one,



11, 13-trien-3-one [22].

3. Tetra-triterpene group

(1). wilforlide A, wilforlide B [23].

(2). tritotriterpenoid lactone [24], tretotriterpenic acid A [25,26], tritotriterpenic acid B [27], tritotriterpenic acid C [28], 3-epikatonic acid [29], polpunonic acid,

triptodihydroxy acid methyl ester [30], tripterine [31].

(3). 3,24-dioxofridelan-29-oic acid [29], salaspermic acid [29,32].

4. wilfornide [20]

5. 1,8-dihydroxy-4-hydroxymethyl anthraquinone [33].

6. syringareisnol [34].

7 Other Chemicals: dulcitol, glucose [31], tannin

Medical Functions: 

1. Effects on immune system


2. Anti-inflammatory effects


3. Anti cancer effect

 Triptolide and   tripdiolide   ,

() are highly effective in treating cancer.

Using alcohol extract of lei gong teng, triptolide or

tripdiolide on mice with leukemia L1210, (50~400mcg/kg),

showed that the therapy was highly effective [58].  


The effective dosage for mice with L1210 and P388 was

0.1mg/kg. Using triptolide of 0.25mg and 0.2mg/kg on

mice with leukemia L615, has proved to prolong the

survival rates to more than 159.8% and 87.8% respectively and also has caused some of the mice to survive long term.

Using spleen cell L615, once a month continually for three

months to attack the cancer cells that survived long term,

did not affect the survival rate of the mice or cause them

to get ill [24,58,59].


Bibliography (in Chinese)on Anti Cancer Effect :

[24] Li shi Zhang, Nanjing Xue Yuan Xue Bao, 1984, 15 (1) 69

[58] Wu Da Gang, Yunnan zhi Wu Yuan Jiu, 1979; 1 (2); 29

[59] Zhang Tan Lin et al, Yao Xue Tong Bao, 1980, 15 (5); 46




Go to Cancer Index Page


4. Effects on contraception


5. Effects on urinary system


6. Effects on anti organism and worm


7. Effects on Arthritis


The active ingredient of lei gong teng, triptolide, can inhibit the abnormal growth of immune cells that cause arthritis.


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the parts of the body. In rheumatoid arthritis the immune system attacks the linings of the joints. Other parts of the body like blood vessels, heart, kidneys, lungs and brain and also be affected. The most affected joints are the hands, feet, wrists, elbows and knees but almost all joints can be affected.



8. Inhibits  acute phase of rejection during transplant


10. Other Effects

Effect of triptolide on cardiac allograft survival in mice
By: Zhou Xiaoming, Fang Xiangdong, Luo Aiwu, Li Quanqi,
Li Jinsheng, Wang Xiaoning (Cardio thoracic Surgery,Nan fang Hospital Institute of Molecular Immunology, the First Military Medical University, Guangzhou 510515 2Department of pediatrics, General Hospital, Guangzhou Military Area Command)


triptolide cardiac allograft allograft rejection


Abstract This paper was designed to evaluate the effect of

triptolide (Tri) on cardiac allograft survival in mouse ear.

In our studies triptolide was demonstrated to suppress the

rejection of cardiac allograft in mouse ear. The effect was

both doseª² dependent and timeª² dependent. In addition,

the studies also evaluted the effect of Tri on T lymphocyte

proliferation induced by Con A or mixed lymphocyte

reaction (MLR) in vitro. The results showed that Tri

notably inhibited T lymphocyte transformation (LT)

at 0.04~10 μ g/L and MLR at 0.2~10 μg/L. All these

inhibitory effects were timeª² dependent. Maximal

inhibition of LT and MLR was observed when Tri was

added in the first 12 h of incubation. The effect of Tri

on Con Aª² induced IL- 2 production and IL- 2R

expression of lymphocytes was assayed. It was found

that Tri at 0.4 μ g/L and 10 μ g/L had no significant

inhibitory effect on the synthesis of IL- 2 by freshly

isolated mouse splenocytes prestimulated with Con A

for 24 h and 48 h. Examination of the effect of Tri on

IL- 2 receptor expression indicated that Tri can reduce

IL- 2R expression. These results suggested that Tri could

inhibit the acute phase of transplant rejection but not to

prevent allograft rejection.

Editor Note: This may be an old document that has been

retrieved. Please contact researchers for any new


 According to a report from Xin Hua She News of China,the

acute phase of transplant rejection rate dropped from

30 ~40% to 5% using triptolide.


See the archived Chinese site of this article of

inhibiting the acute phase of rejection in Chinese


9. Inside the body


10. Effects of toxicity

Other Research: Four compounds purified from

T. wilfordii may confer protection against the FSGS

(focal segmental glomerulosclerosis)


Modern Clinical Application :


1. proliferative arthritis  類 風 濕 性 關 節 炎


(1). Dosage per day for adults: 20 to 30 g of dried stem

of lei gong teng. Use low heat to simmer for 3 to 4 hours.

Adjust the amount for children.

Take until symptoms are clear. Fifteen days after

symptoms are clear, change to every other day or every

3 days per dose; then slowly wean from it. If symptoms

do not subside after 15 days, it is deemed ineffective.

There were 60 patients. Average stay in the hospital:

3 to 4 months.

Result: 17 healed. Effective: 20. Better: 19.

Not effective: 4.

The characteristic of this herb is warm and toxic. It is

effective for acute cases. It is  much less effective on

cases with deformed joints. [1]


(2). Combining 2/3 of lei gong teng with bark and 1/3

without bark and made into 15% tincture.

Dosage: 10 to 15 ml per day, made into 3 servings

for after meals. Continuously taken for 3 to 5 months

(average 4.5 months).

After symptoms are controlled, dosages were decreased.

Result: Clinically

healed: 18. Obviously improved: 95. Better 46.

Not effective: 6. Total effectiveness: 96.4%.[2]


(3). Total saponins dosage 1 to 1.5 mg per day, into 3

servings, taken after meals. The largest dosage was

90 mg. During using this therapy, other medicines were

suspended. After 1 to 2 weeks, the symptoms started to

subside. After treatments, ESR and other values of proliferative arthritis indicators started to decrease.

Some of them became normal. EgC, IgA, and IgM

obviously decreased. After more than 3 months of

therapy, among 136 patients, with lessor clinical

symptoms : 24, obviously improved: 51, improved:

52, infective: 9, total effectiveness: 93.3%.






(6).                (Writing in progress)




2. tonic inflammation of spinal cord

lei gong teng syrup: containing lei gong teng whole root (100 ml contains raw herb of 17 g), chen pi. Starting with 60 ml, per day, after 3 to 5 days increase to 90 ml, divide into 3 serving. Take after them meals. 20  to 30 days is one therapy period.


number of patients: 140, symptoms subsided: 28.57%, got better: 9.29%, ineffective 0.71%, obviously effective: >89.29% [7]

(2) lei gong teng tincture 15 to 30 ml/d, divided into 3 serving.  Usually after taking it for 2 to 18 months for tonic inflammation of spinal cord,  all patients show obvious improvement. [8]


3. lupus 治 紅 斑 狼 瘡


4. purpura 治 過 敏 性 紫 班


5. kidney inflammation 治 腎 病 


6. asthma 治 重 型 支 氣 管 哮 喘


7. baby asthmatic bronchitis


8. tuberculosis of the lungs


9. psoriasis 治銀 痟 病

Using water decoction of lei gong teng and alcohol extract of lei gong teng:

They both contain 50 lei gong ten 50 g, and ji xue tang 50 g each. Take orally 50 ml, twice a day after meals. 30 days is on therapy period


Total patients: 193

Patients taking alcohol extract: 116

Effective rate: 86.2%

Patients taking water decoction: 77

Effective rate: 72.72%

It showed that the alcohol extract was more effective than the water decoction. [21]



10. neurodermatitis


11. 治玫 瑰 糠 疹


12. 治紅 皮 病


13.  治多 形 紅 斑


14. 治夏 季 皮 炎


15. herpes zoster 治帶 狀 ?疹 


16. leprosy reactions


17. alopecia areata 治斑 禿


18. 治掌 跖 膿 ?


19.  治天 ?


20. 治皮 膚 血 管 炎 性 疾 病


21. 用 於 大 動 脈 炎 活 動 期






24.                    (Writing in progress)













10. Reiter syndrome 


Research on Pharmacological Processes: to be loaded


Toxicity and Side Effects:

1. Toxic reactions: dizziness, palpitation, weakness,

nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea, pain in liver

and kidney areas, bleeding in the digestive tract, even

respiration and circulation exhaustion and death.

2. decrease of total blood cell counts (2)

3. mutation type of illness: using lei gong teng tincture

for external use can cause mutation type of illness. (3)

4. Long term use of lei gong teng could significantly decrease bone mineral density of levels in female systemic lupus

erythematosus (SLE)b

See Chinese web page , submitted for writing competition sponsored by the Education Department of ROC in Taiwan.



1). For external use: use ointment and avoid tincture.

2). Pay attention to the dosage according to the body

constitution of individual patients.

3). Avoid using on patients with liver problems.

Antidotes for toxicity

1). Empty stomach and induce diarrhea.

2). During the early stages, use adrenocortical hormone.

Dexamethasone 5~10mg with added 50% glucose 40 ml

can be used in IV administering, followed with

dexamethasone of 1.5mg, 3 times a day for 2~3 weeks.

Anisodamine (654-2) can also be used.

3).  Use dextran 40 (low Molecular Dexran,

Rheomacrodex) 500ml IV administering, when toxin

has been absorbed but no symptom of toxicity.

20% solution of Manitol for IV administering, and

furosemide 40mg (Frusemide, Fursemide, Lasix) for

muscle injection. Pay attention to the balance of

electrolytes and correct acidosis immediately.

4). Skin allergy can be treated with antihistamines

or with traditional Chinese herbs for dispersing heat

and  neutralizing toxin.

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Note: If you need the complete bibliography or other

information in a hurry, please email our Research Librarian.

There is a set up charge because almost all of them are from sources of Chinese writings and Chinsese are more time consuming to type and to translate.


(a). M. Sharma, R. Sharma, XL Ge, R.S.Reddy, E.T.McCarthy,

V. J. Savin, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, U.S.A.

(b). Department of dermatology, Huashan hospital, Shanghai

Medical University, Shanghai 200040, China (Huang L and Feng SF);

Radiology Institute,  Shanghai Medical University, Shanghai 200040,

China (Wang HF).

[n] for complete bibliography email our Research Librarian. if you need them in a hurry.

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