Diabetic Neuropathy and Triptolide
Diabetic neuropathy is a painful condition that can develop when high blood sugar is left untreated for too long. Researchers in China have been studying the effect of Triptolide, an active biological component of the thunder god vine root extract, to see how it can be used as an adjunctive treatment for diabetic neuropathy. The results from the Nanjing University School of Medicine look promising.
Diabetic neuropathy is a painful condition involving many factors. There can be mild cases, and there can be cases that are fatal. The key to prevention is tight control of your blood sugar numbers, because overly high blood sugar levels actually damage your nerve fibers themselves.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several kinds of neuropathy. The first most common is Peripheral neuropathy, which often involves the extremities – hands, arms, feet and legs. These can carry symptoms like burning pain, numbness, tingling and loss of reflexes. Autonomic neuropathy is next, involving the nerves that run the autonomic nervous system which controls things such as your heart, bladder, lungs, kidneys, stomach, intestinal tract, and your eyes. Diabetic Amytrophy usually occurs in older adults and includes severe leg and hip pains, difficulty rising from a seated position, and muscular atrophy.
Any one of these symptoms, if escalated, can radically affect one’s quality of life. Here is where Triptolide comes in.
Thunder god vine (the peeled root extract) has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. It has mainly been used to treat inflammatory conditions (like RA) and also has been noted to have anti-tumoric properties as well.
The researchers in this study decided to compare the effects of Triptolide to a common medication for diabetic neuropathy called Valsartan. The conclusion of the lab research with mice indicated that the albuminuria in the mice (meaning the presence of albumin in the urine, which is generally a symptom of kidney disease) was decreased remarkably. “In addition, the inflammation and oxidative stress in the kidneys were also attenuated, accompanied with improved hyperlipidaemia and obesity. The efficacy increased with the prolonging of triptolide treatment, and the efficacy in high-dose triptolide group was superior to that in the low-dose group. The effect of triptolide on glomerular hypertrophy was similar to valsartan, but the effects of triptolide on renal inflammation and oxidative stress were more profound than those of valsartan” (Gao, et. al.). The researches also noted decreased inflammation and less oxidative stress in the mice that were treated with Triptolide.
Another way that Triptolide seems to help with diabetic neuropathy is that the compound alleviates glomerular hypotrophy (which aggravates epithelial cell injury – think skin lesions) (Miller, et. al.) which could be related to the improved metabolic effects of thunder god vine on obesity.
More test and more research, of course, are needed. But the preliminary studies on the thunder god vine root extract are promising that this natural compound could help treat a prevalent diabetic disease.
Gao, Qing, et al. “Treatment of db/db diabetic mice with triptolide: a novel therapy for diabetic nephropathy.” Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation 25.11 (2010): 3539-3547.
Miller, P L et al. “Glomerular Hypertrophy Aggravates Epithelial Cell Injury in Nephrotic Rats.” Journal of Clinical Investigation 85.4 (1990): 1119–1126. Retrieved July 28, 2015 < http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC296542/>