June 27, 2016

Kudzu

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What other names is Kudzu known by?

Bidarikand, Daidzein, Dolichos hirsutus, Dolichos lobatus, Fen Ke, Fenge, Gange, Ge Gen, Gegen, Indian Kudzu, Isoflavone, Isoflavones, Japanese Arrowroot, Kakkon, Kudsu, Kudzu Vine, Kwaao Khruea, Mealy Kudzu, Neustanthus chinensis, Pachyrhizus thunbergianus, Pueraria, Pueraria candollei, Pueraria hirsuta, Pueraria lobata, Pueraria lobata var. chinensis, Pueraria mirifica, Pueraria montana var. lobata, Pueraria montana var. thomsonii, Pueraria pseudohirsuta, Pueraria Root, Pueraria thomsonii, Pueraria thunbergiana, Pueraria tuberosa, Radix Puerariae, Red Indian Kudzu, Thai Kudzu Root Extract, Vidarikand, Vigne Kudzu, White Indian Kudzu, Yege.

What is Kudzu?

Kudzu is a vine. Under the right growing conditions, it spreads easily, covering virtually everything that doesn't move out of its path. Kudzu was introduced in North America in 1876 in the southeastern U.S. to prevent soil erosion. But kudzu spread quickly and overtook farms and buildings, leading some to call to kudzu "the vine that ate the South."

Kudzu's root, flower, and leaf are used to make medicine. It has been used in Chinese medicine since at least 200 BC. As early as 600 AD, it was used to treat alcoholism.

Today, kudzu is used to treat alcoholism and to reduce symptoms of alcohol hangover, including headache, upset stomach, dizziness, and vomiting. Kudzu is also used for heart and circulatory problems, including high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain; for upper respiratory problems including sinus infections, the common cold, hay fever, flu, and swine flu; and for skin problems, including allergic skin rash, itchiness, and psoriasis.

Some people use kudzu for menopause symptoms, muscle pain, measles, dysentery, stomach pain (gastritis), fever, diarrhea, thirst, neck stiffness, and to promote sweating. Other oral uses include treatment of polio myelitis, encephalitis, migraine, deafness, diabetes, and traumatic injuries.

Health providers in China sometimes give puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, intravenously (by IV) to treat stroke due to a blood clot.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Alcoholism. Early research suggests that heavy drinkers who take kudzu extract for 7 days consume less beer when given a chance to drink. But kudzu doesn't seem to decrease the craving for alcohol or improve sobriety in long-term alcoholics.
  • Chest pains. Some early research suggests that puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, might improve signs and symptoms of chest pain when taken by mouth or injected intravenously (by IV). Some evidence suggests that using IV puerarin along with usual treatment might be more effective than usual treatment alone. However, studies on puerarin are generally of poor quality and might not be reliable. Puerarin injection products are not available in North America.
  • Preventing chest pain during a procedure called percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA). Early research suggests that injecting 200 mL of puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, intravenously (by IV) one week before and immediately prior to percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) might reduce episodes of chest pain. Puerarin injection products are not available in North America.
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD). Early research suggests that injecting 500 mL of puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, intravenously (by IV) once daily for 3 weeks might reduce "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, increase "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and reduce pre-meal insulin levels in people with coronary heart disease. Puerarin injection products are not available in North America.
  • Diabetes. Early research suggests that taking puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, 750 mg daily by mouth along with the diabetes medication rosiglitazone (Avandia) reduces blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, injecting puerarin intravenously (by IV) does not appear to reduce blood sugar. Puerarin injection products are not available in North America.
  • Kidney disease in people with diabetes (diabetic nephropathy). Early research suggests that taking puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, 750 mg daily by mouth along with the diabetes medication rosiglitazone (Avandia) improves kidney function in people with diabetic nephropathy.
  • Problems with the retina of the eye in people with diabetes (diabetic retinopathy). Some research suggests that injecting puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, intravenously (by IV) does not improve vision in people with diabetic retinopathy. Puerarin injection products are not available in North America.
  • Exercise performance. Early research suggests that taking a combination supplement containing kudzu isoflavones along with other ingredients might improve exercise performance in some people.
  • Heart failure. Early research suggests that taking puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, 400 mg/day by mouth for 10 days might improve heart function in people with heart failure.
  • Stroke. Some early research suggests that taking puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, alone or with aspirin, might improve brain function in some people after stroke. However, other research shows that injecting puerarin intravenously (by IV) does not reduce death or dependency after a stroke.
  • Low back pain. Early research suggests that injections of puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, might reduce pain in some people with low back pain. Puerarin injection products are not available in North America.
  • Symptoms of menopause. Research on kudzu for symptoms of menopause has been conflicting. Some research suggests that taking kudzu by mouth can reduce hot flashes and improve vaginal dryness in women going through menopause. Other research shows that taking kudzu does not affect sex hormone levels, blood fat levels, bone density, or other symptoms of menopause. However, it might have a positive effect on the mental abilities of postmenopausal women.
  • Heart attack (myocardial infarction). Early research suggests that injecting puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, intravenously (by IV) along with usual treatment might help some people after a heart attack. Puerarin injection products are not available in North America.
  • Weight loss. Early research suggests that taking kudzu extract 300 mg by mouth daily for 12 weeks reduces body fat and body mass index (BMI) in people who are obese. However, taking kudzu extract 200 mg daily does not appear to have the same effects.
  • Symptoms of alcohol hangover (headache, upset stomach, dizziness and vomiting).
  • Muscle pain.
  • Measles.
  • Dysentery.
  • Stomach inflammation (gastritis).
  • Fever.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Thirst.
  • Cold.
  • Flu.
  • Neck stiffness.
  • Promoting sweating (diaphoretic).
  • High blood pressure.
  • Abnormal heart rate and rhythm.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of kudzu for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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