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What Can You Tell Me About Kudzu?

October 13th, 2010 – Posted by James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S. in Doctors Office


Question: What can you tell me about kudzu?

Answer: Kudzu is an imported weed that grows in the South and has recently become a nuisance and I assume you bring it up in reference to its success as a treatment for alcoholism. Apparently, it has had an effect in experiments on special breeds of hamsters who seem to prefer alcohol over water. Dr. Bert L. Vallee, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, says that kudzu extract “has been widely used in China and Japan for centuries to treat alcoholism. You can buy it in pill form over the counter in Japan and China”. The active ingredient in kudzu extract has been identified as daidzin. This was synthesized and injected into the alcohol-preferring animals that, as a result, immediately cut their alcohol consumption by at least 50 percent. Another extract from kudzu, daidzein, had a similar effect. So kudzu, which appears to reduce alcohol craving in lab animals, may become a helpful aid after safety and effectiveness have been established for use in humans.

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