What Is It?
When the twining kudzu vine (Pueraria lobata) was introduced to the United States from Asia more than a century ago, it proceeded to flourish and spread rapidly through the warm and humid southern region of the country. In fact, many now consider this tenacious, high-climbing vine a nuisance.
Traditional Asian healers, however, have long valued kudzu’s root and flowers for treating colds, flu, high blood pressure, chest pain, allergies, and a host of other ailments. And research indicates that a compound in the root (an isoflavone called puerarin) may also increase blood flow to the heart and brain–which may explain certain traditional uses.
In recent years, Chinese healers have reported success in minimizing alcohol cravings by using kudzu. Studies conducted in the 1990s showed that compounds in the root (daidzin and daidzein) notably reduced alcohol consumption in hamsters and rats that had been specially bred to crave alcohol. (The compounds inhibit the enzymes crucial to metabolizing alcohol.)
Initial research in humans has not been so rosy, however. A February, 2000 study in 38 chronic alcoholics at a Veterans Administration hospital in Arizona found that kudzu root was no more effective than a placebo in lessening alcohol cravings. More research is needed to determine whether kudzu can, in fact, safely and effectively control alcohol cravings in humans.
Kudzu is available in various forms including capsules, tablets, and sliced or chopped dried root.
There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with kudzu.
This medicinal plant has been used for centuries in Asia and is not likely to cause harm when taken in commonly recommended dosages and forms.
Alcoholism 1 tsp. alcohol-free liquid extract 3 times a day
David Edelberg, MD