Hungover from alcohol or battling a throbbing headache?
Kudzu root has been used tradtionally in China for centuries to aid a variety of disorders, in particular alcoholism, migraines, high blood pressure, gut disturbances and muscle aches.
When people in the south hear the word Kudzu, it evokes horror. This plant swarms like a green tidal wave over once productive farmland, covering buildings, telephone poles and forests, like a choking blanket of green snow.
It was introduced into the United States from Japan before 1876. The plant promised to be a food, fodder, fibre, medicine and shade-producing economic bonanza. By 1945, an estimated 500,000 acres of the Southeast United States was covered in Kudzu. Today, the plant is the vegetative plague of southern fields and forests. It invades these fields like an alien monster from a science fiction film.
The Americans thought that, like Japanese honeysuckle, perhaps the best way to control Kudzu was to find a way to use it. You can't pull it out or even dig it out without a backhoe, since the primary tuber is often the size and weight of a large human.
So what is Kudzu used for?
In China, the root has been valued as a medicine for traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. In modern times, Kudzu has been the subject of a good deal of research, which suggest that in appropriate formulations it can reduce high blood pressure and the associated symptoms of this, such as headaches and a stiff neck.
As well as this, there is great interest in this herb in the treatment of alcoholism.
It has also been used for:
Aches and pains associated with the common cold
How does it help with alcoholism?
Chinese physicians have long used Kudzu in the treatment of alcoholism. Fascinated by this, a researcher from Harvard Medical School, Wing-Ming Keung, travelled to China to collect clinical information. During his visit he interviewed 13 traditional and modern physicians and compiled 300 case histories. Keung said, "That in all cases, this medication was considered effective in both controlling and suppressing the appetite for alcohol, whilst improving the function of alcohol-affected vital organs." No toxic side effects were reported by the Chinese physicians.
When Keung returned to Harvard, he conducted his own research, which confirmed what he had learned in China; that Kudzu, for reasons still not understood, can curb the desire for alcohol, as well as its ravages on the body. The flower of the herb is considered one of the best remedies for alcoholic hangovers.
What about migraines?
A study was carried out to treat patients with chronic migraine headaches. Of 53 people tested, 13 were completely relieved of headaches and there was no return of headaches for at least 3 months following cessation of use of Kudzu extracts. In another 12 people, there was at least an 80% decrease in the frequency of migraine attacks; in 19 others there was a notable lengthening of the interval between attacks. Altogether, 83% of the migraine sufferers benefited by the use of Kudzu.