Kudzu research shows promising results in the treatment of alchoholism

Introduction to Kudzu

Up until very recently, Kudzu was considered in the USA to be an unfortunate agricultural problem of the south, where this ivy has taken over millions of acres with no natural predators and a perfect climate in which to thrive. However with recent research into its effect on the metabolism of alcohol in human test subjects, science may end up reclassifying this "weed" as our newest "wonder drug".

Kudzu in Biomedical Research

A big health news story came out recently that reported that Ge Gen / Kudzu (Rx. Pueriariae) was shown to be effective in lowering alcohol consumption in humans. While there is some controversy regarding the mechanism of this action, it is generally considered a positive finding that less desire for alcohol is a good thing no matter how you slice it. In particular, this research says:

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. CONCLUSION: These data suggest that an extract of this leguminous plant may be a useful adjunct in reducing alcohol intake in a naturalistic setting. 1

Another study concluded that rats which were given Ge Gen / Kudzu (Rx. Pueriariae) experienced less withdrawal symptoms when having alcohol suddenly removed from their diet after having become addicted to it. 2

One meta-study (research that consolidates and reviews other research) identified Pueraria lobata (Ge Gen / Kudzu (Rx. Pueriariae)) as being effective in decreasing alcohol consumption. 3

However, there is one study that calls into question the usefulness of Ge Gen / Kudzu (Rx. Pueriariae) for alcoholism. We include it here as a reminder that nothing is a cure-all for any particular problem and any website or marketing tool that gives astounding results is really just selling you a product rather than informing you of your choices. It reads:

In this small patient population, Kudzu root appeared to be no better than placebo in reducing the craving for alcohol or promoting sobriety. 4

The patient population tested in this particular study may not be the most compliant either. in other words, patients with a diagnosis of chronic alcoholism may not be taking their herbs as often as they were instructed. The poor results of this study may not be about the efficacy of Ge Gen / Kudzu (Rx. Pueriariae) but rather the compliance of the patient population made up of those with a diagnosis of chronic alcoholism at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Prescott, Arizona.

Here's an interesting bit of research. This one genetic line of hamsters was bred to love alcohol, but after taking Ge Gen / Kudzu (Rx. Pueriariae), they become water drinkers:

Recently, we have demonstrated that a crude extract of Radix puerariae suppresses the free-choice ethanol intake of ethanol-preferring golden Syrian hamsters... Since then, we and other investigators have confirmed these findings in rats that were either trained or genetically bred to prefer and consume large amounts of ethanol. 5


1 Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2005 May;29(5):756-762.
An Extract of the Chinese Herbal Root Kudzu Reduces Alcohol Drinking by Heavy Drinkers in a Naturalistic Setting.
Lukas SE, Penetar D, Berko J, Vicens L, Palmer C, Mallya G, Macklin EA, Lee DY.

2 J Med Food. 2004 Summer;7(2):180-6.
Effects of purified puerarin on voluntary alcohol intake and alcohol withdrawal symptoms in P rats receiving free access to water and alcohol.
Benlhabib E, Baker JI, Keyler DE, Singh AK.

3 Fitoterapia. 2000 Aug;71 Suppl 1:S38-42.
Potential use of medicinal plants in the treatment of alcoholism.
Carai MA, Agabio R, Bombardelli E, Bourov I, Gessa GL, Lobina C, Morazzoni P, Pani M, Reali R, Vacca G, Colombo G.

4 J Altern Complement Med. 2000 Feb;6(1):45-8.
A pilot study exploring the effect of Kudzu root on the drinking habits of patients with chronic alcoholism.
Shebek J, Rindone JP.

5 Phytochemistry. 1998 Feb;47(4):499-506.
Kudzu root: an ancient Chinese source of modern antidipsotropic agents.
Keung WM, Vallee BL.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.
© Al Stone 2006-2008 All Rights Reserved and Stuff
kudzu.herb.shtml was last modified Nov 06 2012