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What is kudzu?
Kudzu is a fast-growing vine native to China. It was first
introduced to the U.S. in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was widely used during the
Great Depression to help prevent soil erosion. Kudzu grows
practically anywhere shade is available, from mountainous
regions and fields to thickets and forests. The vine contains
a huge root, which can grow to the size of an average human
Why do we need kudzu? What is it
Kudzu root is high in isoflavones (such as daidzein) and
isoflavone glycosides (such as daidzin and puerarin), compounds
that are believed to promote general health and reduce the
risk of certain cancers and heart disease.
Traditionally, kudzu has been utilized by traditional Chinese
medicine practitioners to treat hangovers, allergies, indigestion,
diabetes and angina, as well as neck and shoulder pain, thirst
and fever. A more recent study showed that both daidzin and
daidzein may be useful in reducing the urge for alcohol and
How much kudzu should I take?
The Chinese Pharmacopoeia suggests between 9-15 grams
of kudzu root per day. For angina, some herbalists recommend
30-120 milligrams of kudzu root two to three times a day.
What forms of kudzu are available?
Kudzu is available as a whole root. Some specialty stores
also sell tablets of standardized kudzu root and kudzu tinctures.
What can happen if I take too much
kudzu? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What
precautions should I take?
At present, there have been no adverse side-effects or reports
of toxicity associated with kudzu. In addition, no well-known
drug interactions with kudzu have been reported. Make sure
to consult your health practitioner before taking kudzu (or
any supplement or herbal product).
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
- Foster S. Kudzu root monograph. Quart
Rev Nat Med Winter 1994;3038.
- Hoots D, Baldwin J. Kudzu: The Vine
to Love or Hate. Kodak, TN: Suntop Press, 1996.
- Keung WM, Vallee BL. Daidzin and daidzein
suppress free-choice ethanol intake by Syrian golden hamsters.
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1993;90:1000812.
- Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of
Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics,
2nd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, pp. 3336.
- Zhao SP, Zhang YZ. Quantitative TLC-densitometry
of isoflavones in pueraria lobata (wild) ohwi. Yaoxue