Kudzu Alcoholism

What is Kudzu?
Can The Kudzu Herb Help Beat Alcohol Dependence



Kudzu Alcoholism Treatment
The Kudzu plant won’t help you abstain completely from alcohol, but it might help you cut down your intake.



The Kudzu alcoholism link is one that has caused more than its fair share of controversy.

This is largely down to the fact that studies are far from conclusive on the benefits of the Kudzu herb.

But before exploring the science and what it concluded on the potential of kudzu, let's take a look at the practicalities of using Kudzu root for its 'anti-alcohol' properties.




Where Can I Find Kudzu Herb?
What Dosage Should I Take?

Many health stores stock capsules and tinctures containing Kudzu. Generally it is advertised/marketed as a remedy for many health problems not just alcoholism. 

But be warned as many of these preparations do not contain enough of the important active ingredients said to reduce alcohol cravings. Daidzein and diadzin are the two compounds that need to be in the preparation.

kudzu alcoholism

The only way you can guarantee you are getting enough of these compounds is to buy the dry root.

Also keep in mind that tinctures are made using ethyl-alcohol.

Chinese Herbal stores are more likely to have the dried root, and will be able to give you advice about dosage.

The Chinese Pharmacopoeia states that an effective dose of dried kudzu root is 9-15g taken prior to drinking (1 hour minimum) if you are trying to cut down on your drinking. Take 10g, 3 times a day if you are abstaining from alcohol.

Be wary of kudzu preparations purchased in herbal stores, many of their products contain very little of the ingredients they claim to. Always read the label/contents.

If you cannot source dried Kudzu root (it isn't that easy to find) then the only kudzu preparation we recommend is from Planetary Herbals. It is made purely from Kudzu root and flowers and thus contains daidzein and diadzin, as well as soflavonoids and saponins which help inhibit alcohol craving. Full Spectrum Kudzu is the premium kudzu product available over the Internet. Don't, and we can't stress this enough, waste your money on inferior kudzu preparations.



Kudzu Alcoholism
What Is Kudzu?

The Kudzu vine is a climbing, coiling, and trailing plant native to southern Japan and southeast China.

Its name comes from the Japanese name for the plant, Kudzu, in Chinese it's called "gegen".

Due to its capability of rapid growth in a warm temperate climate, the Kudzu vine has earned pejorative nicknames such as:

  • "the foot-a-night vine"
  • "mile-a-minute vine"
  • "the vine that ate the South"

The kudzu root, which can grow to the size of a human being, contains useful isoflavones such as: daidzein (an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent) and diadzin (a cancer preventive).

Kudzu root compounds can affect the same neurotransmitters (including serotonin, GABA, and glutamate) as alcohol consumption can.

It has shown value in treating migraine and cluster headaches. It is also recommended for allergies and diarrhea.


Kudzu Alcoholism
How Can Kudzu Help Alcoholics?

Kudzu Alcoholism and Animals Studies:

  • 1991
    The study tested the affect of a herbal mixture containing kudzu on drunk rats.

    Findings:
    When the rats ingested the kudzu herb mixture before drinking alcohol, their motor movements became more coordinated.
  • 1992
    This time the rats were allowed to drink alcohol for an hour each day. The rats usually drink a vast amount of alcohol. After a week of drinking, the herbal mixture (containing kudzu herb kudzu )was given to them 15 minutes prior to their "drinking session". what is kudzu

    Findings:
    The rats significantly lowered their alcohol consumption due to the Kudzu mixture.
  • Another study gave the rats an unlimited amount of alcohol for 24 hours, followed by another 24 hours of no alcohol at all.

    Findings:
    On the third day the rats' alcohol intake increased from 20% to 30%. However, when given the herbal mixture, the rats either lowered their alcohol intake or drank the same amount as the first day.
  • 1995
    A Harvard University study was conducted using hamsters because of their natural tendency to choose alcohol over water. Some hamsters were given daidzein, an active ingredient in kudzu, and all of the hamsters were allowed to drink as much alcohol as they wanted.

    Findings:
    The hamsters receiving daidzein, dropped their alcohol intake by 70%.





Kudzu, Alcoholism and Human Studies:

The First Documented Evidence of the Kudzu alcoholism link and that the plant could reduce drinking in humans was led by Scott E Lukas, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Scott Lukas recruited 14 men, all of whom were heavy drinkers, consuming an average of 25 alcoholic beverages per week, but none of them were alcohol dependent or had a family history of alcoholism.

The 14 men were invited to a four 90-minute sessions consuming beer and watching TV.

After the first session, the "control" group received a placebo while the experimental group took two 500-milligrams kudzu capsules three times a day.

The results demonstrated two important findings:

  • Those who took kudzu pills drank an average of 1.8 beers as against the 3.5 beers taken by those who were given placebos.
  • None of the subjects had any side effects from mixing kudzu with beer.
Needless to say the results pushed the whole kudzu alcoholism effort a huge step forward.


Scott Lukas on the results of his research:

"The rapid infusion (due to the action of Kudzu) of alcohol is satisfying them and taking away their desire for more drinks. Thats only a theory. It's the best we've got so far."

"It's perfectly safe, from what we can tell... Individuals reported feeling a little more tipsy or lightheaded, but not enough to make them walk into walls or stumble and fall."

"We suspect the kudzu treatment is causing the alcohol to get into the brain more quickly."




Lukas' main observation is that kudzu won't help drinkers abstain completely from alcohol, but might help them cut down on their intake. Which is a step in the right direction.

Lukas envisions kudzu being used alongside group therapy to treat alcoholism and would like to test it on college-age students - a group prone to binge drinking.


Full Spectrum Kudzu is the only Kudzu preparation we recommend. Too often the tablets and capsules claiming to be Kudzu only contain a minuscule amount of the active ingredient, the rest being filler such as starch or soya. Planetary Herbals full spectrum kudzu is an exception and contains only the root and flowers of the Kudzu vine. This means that the active compounds are present in sufficient active quantities, even in capsule form,and the anti-craving properties of the plant are retained.



Not All Agree On The Alcoholism Kudzu Link

Kudzu appears, at least according to Lukas, to contain a compound that can be effective in reducing alcohol intake among humans.

However, there is another study that calls into question the usefulness of Kudzu for alcoholism.

The study used patients with a diagnosis of chronic alcoholism (unlike the volunteers in Lukas study who were heavy drinker NOT alcohol dependent)and found that Kudzu root appeared to be no better than placebo in reducing the craving for alcohol or promoting sobriety.

Despite conflicting findings, there seems to be a reason to be optimistic regarding the kudzu alcoholism use.

Lets leave the last word to Scott E Lukas: 

"We want to develop a medication that would be effective and safe, without side effects like other drugs on the market."





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Deborah Morrow, M.S. Addiction Psychology, is the director of treatment programs for The Alcoholism Guide website. In her practice, Deborah provides on-line coaching and support for those dependent on alcohol or who require other services such as relapse prevention or court mandated services. (Read More)



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