Kudzu is a plant species that belongs to the genus Pueraria which is native to several Asian countries.
Traditional Eastern medicine is using it for hundreds of years. It has recently gained popularity in Western countries as a herbal supplement due to its medicinal properties.
You might be interested in learning more about how people use kudzu root and what you should know before giving it a shot.
This article discusses the Kudzu root’s benefits, applications, and potential side effects.
What is it?
Kudzu root, also known as Japanese arrowroot, is a plant native to China, Japan, and South Korea, among other places. These cultures have been making extensive use of it for hundreds of years. Today, kudzu is growing worldwide, including in the southeastern United States.
It is a trailing vine that frequently climbs over the tops of other plants and trees to reach its destination. As a result, some people consider it to be an invasive weed.
For over 2,000 years, traditional Chinese medicine uses the root of the kudzu plant to treat various ailments, including fevers, diarrhea, and even diabetes and heart disease .
While still in its raw state, it resembles other root tubers such as potatoes or yams. Its skin is tan, and its flesh is white. Its shape is oblong, and its size is unknown.
Because the kudzu plant resembles poison ivy, it is critical to understand how to distinguish between the two.
These days, the most popular ways to consume kudzu root are as a herbal supplement or as a tea made from the root.
On the other hand, you can eat it as a vegetable. A variety of plant parts are frequently consumed raw, sautéed, deep-fried, baked, or jellied by people worldwide.
In the same way that you would consume other root vegetables such as potatoes or rutabagas, you can also consume the root. You can dry Kudzu roots and ground them into a fine powder, which some people use as flour in the batter for deep-fried foods or as a thickening agent in soup and sauce.
Additionally, the kudzu plant’s leaves, vine tips, and purple flower blossoms are all edible parts of the plant.
Kudzu Root Benefits
Over 70 plant compounds have been identified, some of which may be responsible for the root’s potential health-promoting properties .
May Alleviate Menopausal Symptoms
Menopausal and postmenopausal women’s supplements made from the kudzu root species Pueraria Mirifica are marketed by certain healthcare companies.
The Kudzu root, according to scientists, contains phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that act in a similar way to estrogen in the human body [3,4].
It may effectively treat various menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats.
Significant improvements in these menopausal symptoms and others, such as vaginal dryness, have been observed in small human studies [5,6].
On the other hand, other research has discovered inconclusive evidence supporting this practice .
It May Help Treat Liver Damage
It contains a high concentration of antioxidants, which help protect cells from oxidative stress, leading to disease. The isoflavone puerarin is the antioxidant compound you can find in the most incredible abundance in the kudzu vine .
According to the findings, kudzu vine extract is highly beneficial in treating mice with alcohol-induced liver damage because it scavenges harmful free radicals while also stimulating the body’s natural antioxidant system .
May Reduce Alcohol Dependence
According to some research, the use of kudzu root may be beneficial in treating alcohol use disorder or dependence.
An observational study conducted on 17 men between the ages of 21 and 33 who consumed approximately 22–35 alcoholic beverages per week looked into the effects of kudzu. The researchers administered either kudzu extract or a placebo to the participants for four weeks .
Participants reported their desire for and consumption of alcoholic beverages throughout the course of the study. The researchers discovered that the kudzu extract did not affect alcohol cravings. It significantly impacted weekly alcohol consumption, reducing it by 34–57 percent on average .
Additionally, men who took kudzu had fewer days of heavy drinking per week and significantly more days without alcohol in a row than those who did not take it .
Another study discovered that individuals who consumed puerarin. Before drinking, an isoflavone extract derived from the kudzu plant is present in alcoholic beverages. At a slower rate than those who did not .
This effect has been observed in several other studies as well. Even in a single dose, Kudzu extract may help people cut back on their alcohol consumption. And avoid drinking too much at one time in some cases [11,12].
Remember that these studies used kudzu extract, which may have contained components other than the root of the kudzu plant. This is important to keep in mind. Consequently, according to scientists, additional research in this area is required, emphasizing the effects of the kudzu root.
Other Potential Benefits
While more research into the health effects of kudzu is required. Some studies have indicated that the plant’s roots may have additional health benefits that are worth considering.
The following are examples of such:
- May alleviate severe headaches. In a small case study involving 16 people who suffered from frequent cluster headaches. It was discovered that kudzu root could reduce the intensity of headaches in 69 percent of people. The frequency of headaches in 56 percent of people and the duration of headaches in 31 percent of people .
- May promote heart health. Cardioprotective effects of kudzu root have been demonstrated in mice with burn-induced heart injuries. Additionally, it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat heart disease. But more research is needed to confirm this. Currently, scientists are investigating this further [14,15].
- May reduce inflammation. In one study, Isoorientin, a compound isolated from kudzu root. Increased antioxidant levels and decreased inflammation markers in mice with swollen paws. Indicating that the compound may have anti-inflammatory properties .
Potential Side Effects
While kudzu root may have several unique advantages, it also has some potential drawbacks that should be considered.
There is some evidence to suggest that dietary supplements containing kudzu root may cause liver damage in some people. According to one study conducted on the animals. Taking 10 mg of kudzu root extract daily for four weeks resulted in liver toxicity in mice .
The use of mistletoe extract for a month and kudzu root extract for ten days. This resulted in the hospitalization of a previously healthy 55-year-old man. Who had previously been in good health with no liver problems .
It’s important to remember that this is a case study. And as such, we can’t say with certainty that the kudzu root was the cause of the liver injury. Additional research is a need to determine whether kudzu root can cause liver injury in humans. And this research is currently underway.
Furthermore, kudzu root may have an adverse reaction to certain medications. It may make birth control less effective in some cases due to its estrogenic effects . For example,
Aside from that, anecdotal evidence suggests that kudzu root may cause an excessive drop in blood sugar levels. And a slowing of blood coagulation. There is, however, no scientific evidence to support this claim. But if you are taking blood thinners or diabetes medications, it may be best to avoid them altogether.
When taking kudzu root, it is recommended that you consult with your healthcare provider. To determine whether the herb will interact with any medications you are currently taking.
Regarding the recommended dosage of kudzu root as a supplement. There is a lack of scientific evidence to support this claim. As a result, making recommendations for a wide range of applications is challenging.
Also, keep in mind that the recommended doses for kudzu root will likely vary. Depending on the manufacturer and the type of supplement you’re looking into.
According to some research, the kudzu species Pueraria Mirifica appears to be associated with a low risk of adverse side effects when taken in doses of 50–100 mg per day .
Studies have used 1.2 grams of kudzu root extract per day for a week or a single dose of 2 grams before drinking alcohol to treat alcoholism, with no reported side effects. Kudzu root extract is a natural remedy for alcoholism .
It is necessary to conduct additional research on the safe and effective dosages of kudzu root for a variety of applications to make informed decisions.
Kudzu is the edible root of the Pueraria plant family. It is a vine native to Asia, including Japan.
Kudzu root is prepared and eaten similarly to other tuber vegetables like potatoes. Dry and powdered forms are more commonly consumed and can be used as a thickener, herbal supplement, or tea.
Although kudzu root has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, it is now most commonly associated with treating alcoholism. Among other things, it may help relieve menopausal symptoms.
While some research suggests kudzu root may help heal liver damage, other research suggests it may be harmful to the liver in some cases. More research on kudzu root’s effects on humans is required to understand its liver effects better.
Some people react negatively to kudzu root when taking certain medications or have other health issues. As a result, you should always consult your doctor before taking this medication.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.