KUDZU ROOT/FLOWER (Pueraria lobata)

Latin: Pueraria lobata, P.  tuberosa
Sanskrit: Bidari kand
Chinese: Gao gen

WHAT IT DOES: Kudzu is sweet in taste and cooling in action.  The root is a general tonic that calms the nerves and heart, relaxes tension and spasms in the upper body.  The flower reduces alcohol cravings.

RATING: Silver

SAFETY ISSUES: none known

• Dried powder: five to15 grams per day.  
• Tea: cut the fresh or dried tuber into small pieces (about 1/2 inch in diameter), and decoct for about 30 minutes (Yang and Zhang, 1989).

We use kudzu root in our clinic according to TCM tradition, in formulas whenever we see chronic upper body tension, stiffness, muscle spasm and pain.  It is also useful for reducing thirst and fever.  Kudzu root may be mildly beneficial for treating heart conditions.  Patients with angina and hypertension often report that they feel much better after using this herb for a period of time, confirming traditional Ayurvedic reports that it acts as a general tonic for health and long life.  For the heart, it can be taken as a tea on a daily basis.

If you eat kudzu before you drink alcohol, you will be overcome by hangover nausea almost immediately due to a chemical reaction involving a component called acetaldehyde (reported in Duke, 1997).  This will of course discourage alcohol use for a very long time, especially since the initial hangover isn’t the only one you experience.  I suggest the government require manufacturers to put kudzu root right into all alcoholic drinks, along with some milk thistle seed to protect the liver, a little white peony root to aid in spatial coordination, and some B-vitamins to reduce toxicity.  This would serve as an instant solution to most alcohol-related problems, including over-consumption, liver damage, morning-after hangovers and drunk driving.

Research Highlights

• Compounds in kudzu root have been shown to suppress voluntary alcohol consumption in alcohol-preferring rats (Lin and Li, 1998). 

• Individual saponins isolated from kudzu root have shown liver-protective activity in vitro with cultured rat liver cells (Arao et al., 1998, Arao et al., 1997).

• Kudzu contains phyto-estrogenic compounds, including daidzin and daidzein (Lin and Li, 1998).
• Women of the Bhil tribe of Madhya Pradesh use kudzu tubers to increase milk production, and it is also used on farm animals for the same purpose (reported in Pandey, 1996).
• In several Indian studies, extracts of kudzu tubers caused 100% post-coital anti-implantation activity in rats, hamsters and guinea pigs, leading to speculation that it might prove useful as a non-toxic abortifacient.
∑ In a study of 250 female patients, 50% of the pregnant participants taking kudzu tuber experienced pregnancy termination (Chandoke et al., 1981).

∑ Reviews of experimental studies and clinical application of kudzu root in China have also reported cardiovascular applications.  The observed actions include increased blood circulation to the brain, anti-arrythmia, increased blood flow in the coronary artery, mild anti-hypertensive actions, and mild blood sugar lowering effects (Lai and Tang, 1989; reported in Yeung, 1983).