Traditional Chinese medicines containing lei gong teng (tripterygium wilfordii)

Risk of serious side effects on fertility, the liver, kidneys, immune system, blood, and heart.

Article date: August 2011

We are advising consumers not to use unlicensed herbal products that contain the herbal ingredient lei gong teng (tripterygium wilfordii, also known as Thunder God Vine or Seven-step vine) because of concerns about serious side effects on fertility and on the liver, kidneys, immune system, blood, and heart.

We have received a Yellow Card report indicating a potential serious adverse effect which could be associated with consumption of Lei Gong Teng. This product is available over the internet and may also be available in some traditional Chinese medicine outlets in the UK. Promoted mainly as a natural herbal product for rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune diseases, and psoriasis, it is sold either as a dried herb for preparation as a tea or in tablet form.

Advice for healthcare professionals:

  • healthcare professionals are asked to remain vigilant and advise anyone currently using this product to stop taking it
  • report any suspected adverse reactions to Lei Gong Teng on a Yellow Card at

Further information

See our statement in herbal safety news

Article citation: Drug Safety Update vol 5 issue 1: S2.

Updates to this page

Published 11 December 2014