Kudzu, the medicinal plant for combating withdrawal symptoms.

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a plant native to Asia that belongs to the legume family. It has traditionally been prescribed as a medicinal treatment for flu and colds. Recent scientific studies have indicated that kudzu could be beneficial for reducing alcohol withdrawal symptoms 1.

In recent years, various natural alternatives have emerged as potential treatments for controlling alcohol and tobacco addiction. Several studies on kudzu have shown that the root helps to reduce alcohol or nicotine intake. This is because the three main isoflavones present in kudzu extracts – daidzin, daidzein and puerarin – are responsible for the beneficial effects of reducing alcohol and nicotine consumption 2.

Although there is no specific medicine to combat alcoholism or tobacco addition, through herbal medicine such as kudzu root extract, phytotherapy seeks to offer remedies for the problems caused by society’s excesses. Extracts of kudzu root have been used in Asia since around 600 AD to curb addiction and to improve the body’s overall wellbeing.

How does kudzu extract work?

Although scientific evidence demonstrates the efficacy of kudzu for quitting drinking or smoking, results in wider populations still need to be confirmed.

Kudzu and withdrawal symptoms

One theory for kudzu’s effectiveness is the high concentration of isoflavones it contains. Isoflavones increase blood flow to the brain, causing alcohol or nicotine to reach the nervous system faster. This may cause the person may feel they have reached their limit faster, making them slow down and drink or smoke less.

Curiously, kudzu appears to have this effect AND prevent people from becoming intoxicated with alcohol or nicotine more quickly. This aspect also requires more research into its use as a supplement, as the fact that symptoms of intoxication emerge faster offers an effective way of controlling alcohol and nicotine consumption.

Mild anxiolytic effect

According to a study conducted by Overstreet 6, kudzu extract has a mild anxiolytic that helps to reduce anxiety linked to the withdrawal from alcohol or tobacco.

What are the properties of kudzu?

Scientific research has been analysing the properties of kudzu since 1993 and has concluded that after treatment with kudzu, the percentage of alcohol or tobacco intake reduced by 50% 3.

Kudzu extract can reduce alcohol intake in humans

In a (double-blind) study carried out by David M Penetar and his colleagues4, the influence of kudzu on alcohol usage was tested in 20 men. Some of them were given a dose of 2g of kudzu extract with an active isoflavones content of 520mg almost three hours before a drinking session in which up they could choose to consume up to 6 beers, water or fruit juices. None of the participants knew whether they had been given kudzu. The result showed that the group that had received kudzu significantly reduced their consumption of alcoholic drinks during the drinking session. They also drank more slowly than the others.

No side effects and well-tolerated

Another study conducted in 2013, also by David M Penetar and his colleagues5, evaluated the efficacy and safety of kudzu extract in men and women who were not seeking treatment for alcohol addiction. The study included around 4 weeks of treatment in which kudzu was administered with an isoflavone concentration of 250mg. No side effects or changes in vital signs, blood, renal or liver function were recorded. In addition, it did not disrupt sleep, as usually occurs with other hangover cures. There were no recorded changes in desire to drink. However, kudzu extract significantly reduced the number of drinks consumed each week by 34-57%.

How and when to take kudzu

Taking kudzu orally is recommended. In cases of alcoholism, the doses studied in scientific research were 1.5-3g of kudzu root extract taken in 3 doses per day over 1-4 weeks. A single dose of 2g of kudzu extract has also been used in other studies before a drinking session.

What to look for in a good kudzu supplement

Herbal supplements without an adequate concentration of the active principle are very common. If you’re looking for a kudzu extract supplement that will help reduce your withdrawal symptoms, check the following:

  • The supplement should be based on kudzu root.
  • It should contain at least 40% isoflavones.
  • It should not contain filler substances such as dyestuffs or preservatives.
  • It should be approved by regulatory bodies.
  • It should not make misleading promises on the packaging.

Anastore has successfully developed a plant-based supplement based on kudzu extract standardised to contain 40% isoflavones and 12% daidzein, to guarantee maximum quality.

Remember that it’s not a miracle product, and that to reduce anxiety it should be combined with psychotherapy, diet therapy and physical exercise.

If a person wants to reduce their alcohol or tobacco intake, kudzu root is recommended because its active principles (daidzin, daidzein and puerarin) are effective in helping to combat desire to consume alcohol or nicotine.

Referencias

  1. Keung WM, Vallee BL. Kudzu root: an ancient Chinese source of modern antidipsotropic agents. Phytochemistry. 1998;47(4):499-506. doi:10.1016/s0031-9422(97)00723-1.
  2. Ozarowski M, Mikołajczak PŁ, Thiem B . Medicinal Plants in the Phytotherapy of Alcohol or Nicotine Addiction. Implication for Plants in Vitro Cultures
  3. Keung WM, Vallee BL. Daidzin and daidzein suppress free-choice ethanol intake by Syrian golden hamsters . Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1993;90:10008 - 10012.
  4. Penetar DM, Toto LH, Lee DY, Lukas SE. A single dose of kudzu extract reduces alcohol consumption in a binge drinking paradigm. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015;153:194-200. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.05.025
  5. Lukas SE, Penetar D, Su Z, et al. A standardized kudzu extract (NPI-031) reduces alcohol consumption in nontreatment-seeking male heavy drinkers. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2013;226(1):65-73. doi:10.1007/s00213-012-2884-9
  6. Overstreet DH, Kralic JE, Morrow AL, Ma ZZ, Zhang YW, Lee DY. NPI-031G (puerarin) reduces anxiogenic effects of alcohol withdrawal or benzodiazepine inverse or 5-HT2C agonists. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003;75(3):619-625. doi:10.1016/s0091-3057(03)00114-x