As usual I am being my scientific self and doing research with our good friend Dr. Google. As always, I really appreciate the guidance I receive here and the helpful advice, experience sharing, and wisdom everyone has to offer.
I was researching an herbal or natural supplement that has demonstrated in lab studies its effectiveness in inhibiting certain cell growth pathways by interfering with key gene transcription factors that cause the production of pro-inflammatory proteins and thus preventing these pro-inflammatory proteins from causing abnormal cell growth (intimal hyperplasia) in the walls and linings of arteries as is the case in vasculitis.
The one supplement I found is called andrographolide, and is found in high concentrations in the plant andrographolis paniculata.
I found two useful articles in my research:
The first one above discusses the effectiveness of andrographolide in reducing cell growth pathways leading to vasculitis and arterial inflammation. The second one discusses andrographolide's demonstrated strong efficacy in interfering with cell growth pathways leading to rheumatoid arthritis. The cell growth pathways related to RA and GCA are quite similar, and both involve the elevated production of a type of pro-inflammatory protein called interleukin-6 cytokine, which is known to cause inflammation in vasculitis. To demonstrate the effectiveness of andrographolide, the second study even showed that ESR in patients with rheumatoid arthritis decreased significantly while taking andrographolide at a dose of 45 mg/day the form of Andrographolis paniculata, which in certain herbal forms contains up to 30% andrographolide. The third article above demonstrates again the effectiveness of andrographolide in inhibiting the inflammatory effects of interleukin-6, which is a fundamental cause of inflammation in GCA. Tocilizumab is an immunosuppressant drug currently being used to stop the binding activity of interleukin-6 cytokine, which is the cause of the inflammation, and is now being used in clinical trials for GCA treatment in conjunction with steroid therapy. If andrographolide can suppress interleukin-6 activity in an effective manner similar to (but most likely not nearly as powerful and also with much fewer side effects and much less expensive in comparison) the effects of Tocilizumab (a pharmaceutical), then does it make sense that andrographolide could be used in conjunction with prednisone therapy to treat GCA? Has anyone else thought of this or spoken to a doctor about it?
I just bought Andrographis paniculata (which contains 30% andrographolide) online from the website below:
and I am going to start taking it to see if my symptoms can improve more rapidly or even without steroids for several months. Even if this herbal supplement can help safely maintain remission of GCA long term I am willing to try it. It is not expensive at all and has demonstrated its effectiveness in laboratory and clinical studies so I would assume it could have some beneficial therapeutic effect towards alleviating GCA symptoms and blood inflammatory indicators (ESR an CPR). Interleukin-6 (IL-6) can be measured in blood plasma with a simple blood test and is typically always elevated (up to 92%) in all untreated patients with GCA, so the trends and correlations between IL-6 inhibition and the reduction of inflammation in GCA leading to possible remission in conjunction with steroid therapy make sense to me. From what I have read, andrographolide may prove effective in long term GCA treatment not only by treating a significant underlying inflammatory cause of GCA (increased IL-6 production) and leading to faster remission rates but also by allowing steroid tapering to begin more quickly, shortening the total length of harmful steroid therapy, and preventing flares or relapses of GCA over the course of one's lifetime after remission has been achieved.
I just wanted to share these findings with everyone and see if anyone has any comments or questions in this wonderful open forum.