Kudzu originated in China and was brought to the United States from Japan in the late 1800s. It is distributed throughout much of the eastern United States and is most common in the southern part of the continent.
Kudzu has traditionally been used in China to treat alcoholism, diabetes (high blood sugar), gastroenteritis (inflamed stomach or intestine), and deafness.
Evidence suggests kudzu may improve signs and symptoms of unstable angina (chest pain), improve insulin resistance, and have a positive effect on cognitive function in postmenopausal women. However, most studies have suffered from methodological weaknesses and small sample sizes.
Chinese healers have used kudzu to treat high blood pressure and chest pain and to minimize alcohol cravings. Research indicates that puerarin (a constituent of kudzu) may increase blood flow to the heart and brain which helps explain certain traditional uses.
Arrowroot, biochanin A, daidzein, daidzin, Fabaceae (family), Flos puerariae, ge-gen, gegen-tanj (TJ-1), genistein, genistin, glycitin, kaikasaponin III (KS-III), kakkonto, kampo, kudzu root, Kwao Kruea Khao, Leguminosae (family), pedunsaponin B2, pedunsaponin C3, puer, Pueraria lobata, Pueraria lobata L., Pueraria lobata Ohwi, Pueraria lobata root decoction, Pueraria lobata (Willd), Pueraria mirifica, Pueraria montana, Pueraria omeiensis, Pueraria peduncularis, Pueraria phaseoloides, Pueraria thomsonii, Pueraria thunbergiana, Puerariae flos, Puerariae radix, puerariae surculus, puerariaeflos, puerarin, Radix puerariae, spinasterol, tectoridin, tectorigenin, Tianbaokang, Yufengningxin.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Although preliminary study indicates that kudzu may be useful in alcoholism, additional human study is needed to make a firm recommendation.
Cardiovascular disease / angina
Kudzu has a long history of use in the treatment of cardiovascular (heart) disorders, including angina (chest pain), acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), and heart failure. Preliminary studies have suggested that kudzu may reduce the frequency of angina events in human subjects. More research is needed in this area.
Kudzu was used in one clinical trial to treat sudden nerve deafness. Additional evidence is needed to confirm these results.
Preliminary evidence suggests puerarin, a constituent of kudzu, may improve insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the cells of the body become resistant to the effects of insulin, and the normal response to a given amount of insulin is reduced. As a result, higher levels of insulin are needed in order for insulin to have its effects. Insulin resistance precedes the development of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, reversing insulin resistance can lessen chances of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Additional study is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Preliminary evidence suggests that puerarin (a constituent of kudzu) injections may reduce blood viscosity, improve microcirculation, and play a positive therapeutic role in diabetic retinopathy. Well-designed clinical trials are needed to confirm these results before a recommendation can be made.
In China, the main herb-derived eye drops from glaucoma are pueraria flavonoids. The addition of puerarin to conventional drugs for glaucoma yielded favorable results. Additional research is needed to confirm these results.
There is conflicting evidence regarding the effects of kudzu on menopausal symptoms. Additional study is needed to clarify these results.