Kudzu: Common name: Ge-gen. Botanical name: Pueraria lobata. Kudzu is a coarse, high-climbing, twining, trailing, perennial vine. The huge root, which can grow to the size of a human, is the source of medicinal preparations used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and modern herbal products. Kudzu grows in most shaded areas in mountains, fields, along roadsides, thickets, and thin forests throughout most of China and the southeastern United States. The root of another Asian species of kudzu, Pueraria thomsonii, is also used for herbal products.
Kudzu has been used in connection
with alcohol withdrawal support and angina.
Active constituents: Kudzu root is high in isoflavones, such as daidzein, as well as isoflavone glycosides, such as daidzin and puerarin. Depending on its growing conditions, the total isoflavone content varies from 1.7712.0%, with puerarin in the highest concentration, followed by daidzin and daidzein.
A widely publicized 1993 animal study showed that both daidzin and daidzein inhibit the desire for alcohol. The authors concluded the root extract may in fact be useful for reducing the urge for alcohol and as treatment for alcoholism. However, a small controlled clinical trial with alcoholic adults taking 1.2 grams of kudzu two times per day failed to show any effect on decreasing alcohol consumption or cravings.
The 1985 Chinese Pharmacopoeia suggests 915 grams of kudzu root per day.5 In China, standardized root extracts (10 mg tablet is equivalent to 1.5 grams of the crude root) are used to treat angina pectoris. Some sources recommend 30120 mg of the extract two to three times per day.
At the amounts recommended above, there have been no reports of kudzu toxicity in humans. At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with kudzu.
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