Kudzu: we could only imagine it ; Nature made it…

Kudzu is a plant with Asian origins. It is traditionally used in Japan and China. It is a climbing plant of the same botanical family as the bean. The vine is called Kudzu, because it is capable of covering, in a record time, the trees or entire houses that, involuntarily serve as support. For more than 1,000 years, the Chinese have used the root and the leaves for helping to quit alcohol. It is from these traditional facts that researchers have confirmed, by doing comportment tests on laboratory rats, that Kudzu does have strong properties against alcoholism.

Kudzu possesses other virtuous properties; its chemical composition is complex:

  • Isoflavones (daidzein, puerarin and genistein), which have many properties, notably against troubles relating to menopause, or the osteoporosis associated with it. Genistein is also found in soy.
  • Saponosides, which have strong protective properties against hepatitis and cellular lesions.
  • Puerosides A and B, very particular glucosides, as well as proteins, glucides, calcium and phosphorus (very useful for the central nervous system) and, lastly, casein, which has relaxing powers on the nerves.

Kudzu is found in two forms :

  • The powder of the root, obtained by pulverizing the dried roots after harvest.
  • The fecula, obtained through grinding the roots in water, filtration, then drying. The root is used as a thickener in cooking. In the therapeutics arts, it shows reduced virtues than the untreated root, but a faster effect after one dose. It is rich in alkaline bases which explains its buffer effect in highly acidic terrain.

In Japan, Kudzu is used in Kampo medicine as a regulator of the feminine cycle, a corrector of menopausal troubles and a protector of the nerve tissue. In China, it is currently used against the ravages of alcohol. Work is being done at the University of North Carolina to prove that the constituents of Kudzu augment the natural ‘opioid’ of the brain (the famous dopamine), and to explain the performance of Kudzu on addictive behavior in general.

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