Kudzu supplement health benefit, side effects, for alcohol cessation, binge drinking, dosage, review, capsules
March 24 2017 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Kudzu plant is native to Japan and China and was introduce to the United States in the late 1800s. The vine now grows well in several Southeastern states including Alabama and Florida. Kudzu is a vine that when left uncontrolled will eventually grow over almost any fixed object in its proximity including other vegetation, buildings, rooftops, and anything else in its surroundings. It is sometimes referred to as "the plant that ate the South", a reference to how its explosive growth has been most prolific in the southeastern United States due to nearly ideal growing conditions.

Chemical composition
Kudzu root is a rich source of isoflavones such as puerarin, daidzein, and daidzin. The exact way kudzu herb works is not fully understood.

Kudzu and alcohol binge drinking
At least two rodent studies and one human study indicate that kudzu plays a role in reducing binge drinking of alcohol.

Taking kudzu root extract to curb drinking leads to an increase in blood ethanol levels, which might reduce the desire for more alcohol, researchers report.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brown University asked 12 male and female volunteers to take kudzu or a placebo for nine days and then consume various quantities of alcohol. Pre-treatment with kudzu had little effect on the volunteers' behavioral, physical or mental abilities, but it did lead to an increase in heart rate, skin temperature and blood alcohol levels. It is possible that an increase in blood alcohol levels could lead to increased effects from the first alcoholic drink and delay a person's desire to drink more. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 2011.

Q. I was recently pulled over for suspicion of DUI and knew exactly how much I had drank. My blood alcohol registered twice what it should have. I take maximum dosages of Kudzu supplement regularly. Do you have any further research studies that might explain any correlation?
    A. I have seen little research regarding the influence of kudzu extract supplement and blood alcohol levels except for the one study above.

Chinese Herbal Root Kudzu Extract Reduces Alcohol Drinking by Heavy Drinkers in a Naturalistic Setting.
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2005.
The present study was designed to test the efficacy of a kudzu extract in a clinical population. Male and female "heavy" alcohol drinkers were treated with either placebo or a kudzu extract for 7 days and then given an opportunity to drink their preferred brand of beer while in a naturalistic laboratory setting. Participants served as their own controls, and order of treatment exposure was counterbalanced. Drinking behavior was monitored by a digital scale that was located in the top of an end table. Kudzu treatment resulted in significant reduction in the number of beers consumed that was paralleled by an increase in the number of sips and the time to consume each beer and a decrease in the volume of each sip. These changes occurred in the absence of a significant effect on the urge to drink alcohol. There were no reported side effects of kudzu treatment. These data suggest that an extract of kudzu plant may be a useful adjunct in reducing alcohol intake in a naturalistic setting.

Kudzu root extract suppresses voluntary alcohol intake and alcohol withdrawal symptoms in P rats receiving free access to water and alcohol.
J Med Food. 2004. Benlhabib E. Department of Veterinary Diagnostic Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

Antitumor activity of spinasterol isolated from Pueraria roots.
Exp Mol Med. 2005.
We purified phytoestrogens from Kudzu root (Pueraria mirifica from Thailand and Pueraria lobata from Korea), which is used as a rejuvenating folk medicine in Thailand and China. Spinasterol is an active cytotoxic component of Kudzu root.

Rodent studies indicate kudzu has cholesterol lowering properties.

Cluster headaches
Dr. R. Andrew Sewell, Yale University School of Medicine, West Haven, Connecticut reports in the medical journal Headache that components in kudzu root cause an increase in cerebral blood flow in the brain. He and his colleagues surveyed 235 cluster headache patients by email regarding their use of complementary and alternative remedies. In all, 159 patients responded and 22 (14 percent) endorsed self-treatment with kudzu. Sixteen of this group - 11 with episodic cluster headache and 5 with chronic cluster headache -- agreed to further evaluation. With kudzu treatment, the vast majority of the episodic group reported a decrease in attack frequency and about a third had a decrease in attack length. Among those with chronic cluster headaches, 60 percent reported a decrease in frequency and 40 percent reported a decline in headache length. Headache 2009.

Response of cluster headache to kudzu.
Headache. 2009. Andrew Sewell.
Many cluster headache patients take over-the-counter (OTC) kudzu extract in the belief that it helps their cluster attacks. A database of cluster headache patients was questioned about their use of various alternative remedies to treat their cluster headache. Of 235 patients identified, 16 had used kudzu, consented to interviews, and provided medical records. In total, 11 (69%) experienced decreased intensity of attacks, 9 (56%) decreased frequency, and 5 (31%) decreased duration, with minimal side effects. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a component in OTC products labeled as kudzu may prove useful in managing cluster headache. This hypothesis should be tested with a randomized clinical trial.

Kudzu has compounds, such as puerarin and daidzein that are isoflavones. Some studies suggest kudzu may play a role in menopausal symptoms.

Analysis of the estrogenic components in kudzu root by bioassay and high performance liquid chromatography.
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2005.
Isoflavones are the main components in the plant, of which puerarin is the most abundant one. High kudzu content of isoflavones as well as the high estrogenic activity could make kudzu root extract an interesting candidate for hormone replacement therapy.

Metabolic syndrome
A study tested kudzu root extract in female rats with high blood pressure that were prone to stroke. Those rats had many of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Ning Peng and J. Michael Wyss, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, put the rats on a diet free of antioxidants called polyphenols. They added kudzu root extract, which naturally contains certain polyphenols, to the diets of some of the rats. For two months the rats in the kudzu group gained less weight than the other rats, though it didn't hamper their eating habits. At the end of the two months, the rats in the kudzu group had better blood pressure, blood sugar, insulin, and total cholesterol levels than the other rats. Kudzu polyphenols may have potential as complements to other strategies (such as diet and exercise) for reducing metabolic disorders. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2009.

Kudzu side effects, safety, danger, liver and kidney
Rare major side effects have been reported in medical journals.

Clin Nephrol. 2013 October. Acute interstitial nephritis following kudzu root juice ingestion. Recently, the use of herbal remedies and complementary and alternative medicine has increased globally. Kudzu root (Pueraria lobata) is a plant commonly used in traditional medicine to promote health. A middle-aged woman consumed kudzu root juice to promote health and well-being for 10 days. Subsequently, she developed anorexia, epigastric discomfort and azotemia. These symptoms improved rapidly within several days after discontinuation of the suspected offending agent and conservative treatment. Acute interstitial nephritis was diagnosed by renal biopsy. To our knowledge, this is the first case report describing acute interstitial nephritis following the ingestion of kudzu root juice.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2015. Evaluation of kudzu root extract-induced hepatotoxicity. Kudzu root, the root of Pueraria lobata (Willd.) Ohwi, has been used as food and medicine for centuries, but few studies indicate that kudzu root may cause liver damage. We studied the hepatotoxicity of kudzu root extract in mice, HepG2 cells and mice hepatocytes. Mice were administrated with kudzu root extract (10mg/day) for 4 weeks, and then the biochemical analysis and histopathological changes were carried out. To explore the potential mechanism by which kudzu root extract-induced hepatotoxicity, HepG2 cells and mice hepatocytes were co-cultured with kudzu root extract or puerarin, which is a kudzu root isoflavone, for 2h. The increase of serum ALT and AST and histopathological changes in treated mice revealed that kudzu root extract was hepatotoxic. The increase of LDH leakage for HepG2 cells and mice hepatocytes further confirmed hepatotoxicity of kudzu root extract. Kudzu root extract and puerarin significantly up-regulated Mt1 mRNA involved in the acute phase response and Bax which is crucial for apoptosis. Kudzu root extract may be liver toxic and caution may be required for its use.

Kudzu research studies
Pharmacokinetic profile of the isoflavone puerarin after acute and repeated administration of a novel kudzu extract to human volunteers.
J Alternative and Complemententary Medicine. 2006. Penetar DM, Teter CJ. Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA., Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
This study was done to determine the pharmacokinetic profile of puerarin, the major isoflavone found in a kudzu (Pueraria lobata) extract after acute and repeated administration. Participants were given either single or repeated doses of kudzu extract, and blood samples were collected for either 8 or 72 hours for subsequent pharmacokinetic analyses of puerarin. Results: Puerarin was found to be rapidly absorbed via the oral route, reach peak levels at 2 hours, and have a half-life of approximately 4.3 hours. The elimination half-life was not significantly altered after repeated administration. Conclusions: A formulation of kudzu extract delivers a large amount of the principal isoflavone in a rapid manner. The elimination rate constants and the mono-exponential decline in blood levels suggest that a one compartment model adequately explains how puerarin is handled by the body.

Ovulation Block by Kudzu - Pueraria mirifica: A Study of Its Endocrinological Effect in Female Monkeys.
Endocrine. 2005. Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Srinakharinwirot University, Bangkok, Thailand
Pueraria mirifica - kudzu -, a Thai herb containing phytoestrogens, may act as estrogen and disturb reproduction. To investigate the effect of kudzu on the menstrual cycle length and related hormones, nine adult female monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) were separated into three groups. Each group (n = 3) was fed with 10, 100, and 1000 mg/d of kudzu for three menstrual cycles. The menstrual cycle length increased significantly in monkeys treated with kudzu -10 and kudzu -100 and disappeared completely in monkeys treated with kudzu -1000. Serum follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, estradiol, progesterone, and irinhibin were lower during the treatment period in a dose-dependent manner. Changes in menstrual cycle length and the hormonal levels recovered during the post-treatment period only in monkeys treated with kudzu -10 and kudzu -100. The herb greatly influences menstrual cycles and may suppress ovulation by lowering serum levels of gonadotropins.

Efficacy and safety of Pueraria mirifica ( Kwao Kruea Khao) for the treatment of vasomotor symptoms in perimenopausal women: Phase II Study.
J Med Assoc Thai. 2004. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hat Yai Regional Hospital, Songkhla, Thailand.
To evaluate the preliminary efficacy and safety of Pueraria mirifica - kudzu - in the treatment of vasomotor symptoms. Hat Yai Regional Hospital, Thailand. Pre and postmenopausal women with vasomotor symptoms, such as hot flushes and night sweats. Other unpleasant symptoms, urogenital and psychological symptoms, were also evaluated. Patients were enrolled voluntarily and randomly received 50 mg or 100 mg of kudzu in capsules, once daily for six months. Of the 48 enrolled patients, 11 cases were excluded for failing to complete the initial work-up. Thirty-seven cases were evaluated. 20 of 37 randomly received a dose of 50 mg/day of Kudzu (Group A), and 17 of 37 received 100 mg/day of Kudzu (Group B): Kudzu Pueraria mirifica, containing phytoestrogens, relatively alleviated the climacteric symptoms in perimenopausal women. The transient negative profiles occurred in a small number of subjects that included anemia, and liver profiles. While there was a slight decrease in lipoproteins and an increase in hormonal profiles, Kudzu demonstrates great promise in the treatment of climacteric symptoms among perimenopausal women. However, optimal doses should be clinically assessed, to meet appropriate individual responses. kudzu root research kudzu plant.

Estrogen-like effects of puerarin and total isoflavones from Pueraria lobata
Zhong Yao Cai. 2002.
To study the estrogen-like effects of puerarin and total isoflavones from Pueraria lobata in vivo. Puerarin and kudzu were orally administrated to ovariectomized rats, infancy or adult mice and estrogen-treated mice at the doses of 150, 300 and 600 mg/kg for 5-9 days. The estrogen-like effects were measured by viginacytology and uterus or ovary weights. Puerarin and kudzu significantly promoted uterus growth in ovariectomized rats and infancy mice, increased the ratios of keratocytes in vaginal smear in ovariectomized rats. The sexual cycle was partially recovered in dose-dependent manner. In E2-treated mice, puerarin and kudzu obviously inhibited the growth of vigina induced by E2. No obvious effect was observed in normal adult mice. The results showed that puerarin and kudzu acted as weak estrogen-like effect on estrogen-deficiency animals, while no effect on normal-estrogen level ones, but as antiestrogen-like effect in high-estrogen-level ones. These results suggested that puerarin and kudzu possessed property of partial agonist of estrogen receptor.

Kudzu tree
Also known as Pueraria montana, it is native to Asia and was introduced in the U.S. in the late 1800s to control erosion. Since then, it has spread throughout the southeast and in other areas, crowding out many native plants.

Q. Is it safe to take kudzu supplement and drive after a couple of drinks. I read one report that the Harvard study thought one possibility for the reduction in use of alcohol is because the blood alcohol is higher! I think I would like the health benefits, e.g. menopausal effects, cholesterol lowering effects. I do drink one or two wines when I am out and drive home.
   A. Each person responds differently to wine and kudzu therefore it is difficult for us to make a prediction.

Q. It was suggested that Kudzu might help to lower blood pressure and clean arteries. I'm 90 years old and have claudication of legs.
   A. We have not seen much research on kudzu and blood pressure, and sometimes some herbs are very stimulating and may not be appropriate for those over the age of 70 or 80. Congratulations for being 90, it is not easy!

I read that it has estrogen like qualities. I am a male, and was considering using Kudzu based on other qualities it has, and I am wondering if the estrogen like qualities of Kudzu will affect my body and testosterone production?
   Long term human studies with kudzu and its influence on various hormone levels are not available, so we can't say. However, it is often a good idea not to take a particular herb daily but to take breaks. Hence, by taking breaks, any potential negative influence on hormone levels or other influences on organs and tissues, would be minimized.

Can kudzu herbal supplements be taken together with acamprosate medication for alcohol abstinence?
    This is a good question. I don't know if they would work well together or whether there would be side effects. I would suggest at the least trying them separately for a couple of weeks and then discuss with your health care provider regarding the appropriateness of taking them together in your particular situation.

Other products on the market
Kudzu Recovery, 750 mg, 120 Tabs
Planetary Formulas, Botanical Support for Alcohol Cessation
Herbal Supplement
Kudzu Recovery features the roots and flowers of Pueraria lobata, which have long been used in Chinese herbal medicine to help lessen the desire for alcohol. Researchers have identified constituents in kudzu responsible for this activity, puerarin, daidzein and daidzin, which in animal research have been found to cause a similar effect. These are combined with coptis, a primary cleansing and liver-supporting herb from Chinese herbalism, and other key botanicals to support botanicals historically used to reduce cravings.

Amount Per 2 tablets:
Proprietary Blend - 1.5 g
Kudzu root and flower, Hovenia fruit, Coptis Chinensis root, Poria Cocos sclerotium, Grifola sclerotium, Atractylodes root, Codonopsis root, Saussurea root, Shen Qu-Massa Fermentata extract, Green Citrus peel, Cardamom fruit and Ginger root.

Suggested Use: One tablet daily in the morning or as recommended by your health care professional.
Kudu root  is known as Pueraria root (Pueraria mirifica from Thailand and Pueraria lobata from Korea).

buy Kudzu supplement 500 mg pill, Puereria Lobata
Kudzu is a thick, high-climbing vine prescribed by practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine. Kudzu root has isoflavones such as daidzein, as well as daidzin and puerarin. This kudzu supplement contains 500 mg of kudzu root extract and kudzu root, standardized to contain 1 percent daidzein.

Eclectic Institute, buy Kudzu, 450 mg, 90 Non-GMO Veggie Caps
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Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 Capsule
  Amount Per Serving %DV*
Wildcrafted Freeze-dried Kudzu root (Pueraria montana) 450 mg *
*Daily value not established.

Usage: Take frequent breaks from use to avoid potential side effects.

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Other products sold online
Planetary Herbals, Full Spectrum Kudzu, 750 mg, 120 Tablets