Kudzu is a trailing vine native to many Asian countries. Kudzu root, leaf, and flowers have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries. But today you can find it in the supplement aisle of most grocery stores.
Fast facts on kudzu root
What is kudzu root? Kudzu root is an edible part of a climbing vine that’s native to many Asian countries. It’s been used for health purposes in Traditional Chinese Medicine for a really long time.
Does kudzu root have benefits? Kudzu root is linked to a wide range of potential health benefits from easing menopausal symptoms to treating alcohol dependence. Still, more research needs to be done to prove whether it’s truly effective.
Who shouldn’t use kudzu root? Kudzu root may interact with some medications, including birth control and diabetes drugs. That’s why it’s important to talk with your doctor before trying it.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, kudzu root can be used for lots of health purposes. Some common applications include treating fevers and easing symptoms of diabetes. Now kudzu’s popularity is also picking up in the Western world as a wellness supplement.
Wondering what kudzu can do for you? We’ve got you! Let’s dig into the potential health benefits of this rad root.
Might help treat alcoholism
Kudzu root gets some serious rep’ for helping folks ease off of the booze. And there’s some science to back it up. One small study looking at the effects of kudzu in a group of men that reported drinking between 22 and 35 drinks per week shows promising results. After consuming kudzu extract for 4 weeks, the participants reduced their number of weekly alcoholic beverages by at least a third. Some cut their intake in half.
Another study found that kudzu may really “affect alcohol consumption patterns.” In this same study, people who took an isoflavone extract from the kudzu plant before drinking took longer to reach for the liquor cabinet. In fact, even a single dose of kudzu extract may be helpful if you’re looking to reduce your drinking. These are small trials, but they’re promising.
May ease menopause symptoms
The kudzu root contains phytoestrogens. Those are plant compounds that can act similarly to estrogen. That could make it a game-changing supplement for folks. Along with easing uncomfortable symptoms, estrogen can help prevent bone loss after menopause.
One study on 82 postmenopausal women notes that using a Pueraria mirifica (a particular species of kudzu) gel may improve symptoms of vaginal dryness. Another study shows that kudzu flower might be helpful to lessen hot flashes in menopausal women.
FYI: It isn’t all good news. There are other studies that found inconclusive evidence for these uses.
Could alleviate headaches
Headaches are horrible. But kudzu root may be able to help. A small 2009 case report involving 16 people with regular cluster headaches provides some anecdotal evidence. Almost 3 in 4 participants had less intense headaches, more than half had fewer headaches, and 1 in 3 had shorter headaches when taking kudzu root.
May help manage metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a condition notorious for its cluster of health issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or abnormal triglyceride levels. If left unchecked, metabolic syndrome can increase your risk of developing heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
According to some studies, kudzu root may help manage some symptoms of metabolic syndrome. But this is far from conclusive. We still need more research in this area to be sure.
Other potential health benefits
- Might protect your heart. Animal studies suggest that kudzu root could have heart-protective benefits. It may help regulate blood pressure in patients diagnosed with primary hypertension, a risk factor for heart disease.
- May regulate blood sugar levels. According to a 2019 animal study, kudzu root may also help regulate blood sugar levels by inhibiting PTP1B, a diabetes-related protein.
- Might help reduce inflammation. Kudzu root can also be a natural option to treat inflammation. In a small case study, researchers found that isoorientin, a compound isolated from kudzu root, is capable of boosting antioxidant levels and reducing inflammation in mice with swollen paws.
- May help treat liver damage. One study in mice found that kudzu vine extract had a positive effect in the treatment of liver damage by boosting the natural antioxidant system.
Despite its many potential health perks, there are also some possible side effects to taking kudzu root. Here’s what to know before you try it:
- Some people who take kudzu root oral supplements report having belly aches, and feeling dizzy.
- There’s some evidence that kudzu root supplements may cause liver injury, but more research needs to be done on this topic.
- Kudzu root may interact with diabetes medication. It could also potentially make your birth control less effective due to its estrogenic effects.
- If you’re pregnant, taking blood thinning medication, or on diabetes medication, avoid using kudzu root.
If you’re not sure whether kudzu root is right for you, talk with your doctor. They can give you personalized advice that takes into account any other supplements or medications you may be taking.
Kudzu root is available in lots of forms including capsules, liquid extracts, and powder. You can ingest it directly, or mix it with other foods or drinks. There’s not a recommended dosage for kudzu root, but there have been human studies that can help guide you.
- A 2012 study on the kudzu species Pueraria mirifica suggests that doses of 50 to 100 milligrams of kudzu root per day have a low risk of negative side effects.
- For reducing alcohol intake, a single dose of 2 grams before drinking alcohol has been effective on participants without causing significant side effects.
Curious to try kudzu root? Here are our best tips to find the perf kudzu root supplement.
- Look for clear information about harvesting. You’ll wanna go for a supplement that uses organic and sustainably harvested kudzu root.
- Read the fine print. Always check the label. As a rule of thumb, too many ingredients (which can include tons of additives) is usually a red flag.
- Check the recommended use for that specific kudzu root supplement. Why? Some species of kudzu root may be more efficient to treat certain issues. Pueraria lobate, for example, is the species normally used to reduce alcohol cravings.
- Find out what people are saying. Read online reviews of that particular kudzu root supplement to find out more about other folks’ experiences.
- Stay away from brands that aren’t willing to provide contact details. If they’re not transparent about their product policy that’s also a good sign to skip it.
- Kudzu root is the edible root of a vine plant that’s native to several Asian countries.
- Kudzu root can be cooked or eaten, but is mostly used as a dietary supplement in the form of tablets, drops, or powdered mixes.
- Potential health perks of taking kudzu root include decreasing alcohol intake, easing menopause symptoms, and regulating blood sugar levels.
- Kudzu root may interact with certain medications like diabetes meds and birth control. Make sure you consult with your doctor before taking it.