Kudzu's root, flower, and leaf are used to make medicine.
People use kudzu for conditions like alcoholism, heart disease, diabetes, and many others, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- Alcohol use disorder. Research suggests that heavy drinkers or binge drinkers who take kudzu 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.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Chest pain (angina). 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). But studies on puerarin are generally of poor quality and might not be reliable. Puerarin injection products are not available in North America.
- A procedure to open a blocked or narrowed blood vessel (angioplasty). Early research suggests that injecting 200 mL of puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, intravenously (by IV) one week before and immediately prior to PTCA might reduce episodes of chest pain. Puerarin injection products are not available in North America.
- 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.
- Heart disease. 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 medicationrosiglitazone (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 damage 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 this condition.
- Vision problems 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 this condition. Puerarin injection products are not available in North America.
- Heart failure. Early research suggests that taking puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, daily for 10 days might improve heart function in people with heart failure.
- High blood pressure. Early research shows that taking kudzu powder might decrease blood pressure in people with slightly high blood pressure.
- Symptoms of menopause. Most early research shows that taking kudzu can reduce hot flashes in women during menopause. It might work about as well as hormone replacement therapy. But kudzu doesn't seem to improve hormone levels and might worsen levels of blood fats called triglycerides.
- Heart attack. 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.
- Obesity. Early research suggests that taking kudzu extract 300 mg by mouth 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.
- Health problems after menopause. Some research shows that taking kudzu might improve thinking skills and vaginal dryness in women after menopause. It might also improve markers of bone turnover. These markers are typically high in women after menopause. But it's unclear if reducing high bone turnover reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Other research shows that applying a kudzu gel directly to the vagina can work as well as estrogen cream in improving some symptoms of vaginal discomfort.
- 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. But other research shows that injecting puerarin intravenously (by IV) does not reduce death or dependency after a stroke.
- Abnormal heart rate and rhythm.
- Athletic performance.
- Muscle pain.
- Neck stiffness.
- Promoting sweating (diaphoretic).
- Stomach inflammation (gastritis).
- Symptoms of alcohol hangover (headache, upset stomach, dizziness and vomiting).
- Other conditions.
When given by IV: Kudzu is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when injected intravenously (by IV) for up to 20 days. When given by IV, the kudzu ingredient, puerarin, has been associated with itching and nausea, as well as headache and fever. It has also caused red cells to break inside blood vessels.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Bleeding or blood clotting disorders: Kudzu might slow blood clotting. It might make bleeding and blood clotting disorders worse, and it might also interfere with medications used as treatment.
Cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) conditions: There is a concern that kudzu might interfere with cardiovascular treatments. Kudzu extracts seem to lower blood pressure and affect heart rhythm in animals.
Diabetes: Kudzu might affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use kudzu.
Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Kudzu might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don't use kudzu.
Liver disease: There is some concern that taking kudzu might harm the liver. In theory, kudzu might make liver diseases, such as hepatitis, worse. People with liver disease or a history of liver disease should avoid kudzu.
Surgery: Kudzu might affect blood sugar levels and might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking kudzu at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs) interacts with KUDZU
Some birth control pills contain estrogen. Kudzu might have some of the same effects as estrogen. But kudzu isn't as strong as the estrogen in birth control pills. Taking kudzu along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. If you take birth control pills along with kudzu, use an additional form of birth control such as a condom.
Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.
Estrogens interacts with KUDZU
The body breaks down caffeine (contained in kudzu) to get rid of it. Estrogens can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Decreasing the break-down of caffeine can cause jitteriness, headache, fast heartbeat, and other side effects. If you take estrogens, limit your caffeine intake.
Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with KUDZU
Kudzu might slow blood clotting. Taking kudzu along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Methotrexate (MTX, Rheumatrex) interacts with KUDZU
Kudzu might decrease how fast the body gets rid of methotrexate (Rheumatrex). This might increase the risk of methotrexate side effects.
Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) interacts with KUDZU
Some types of cancer are affected by hormones in the body. Estrogen-sensitive cancers are cancers that are affected by estrogen levels in the body. Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) is used to help treat and prevent these types of cancer. Kudzu seems to also affect estrogen levels in the body. By affecting estrogen in the body, kudzu might decrease the effectiveness of tamoxifen (Nolvadex). Do not take kudzu if you are taking tamoxifen (Nolvadex).
Be cautious with this combination
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with KUDZU
Kudzu might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking kudzu along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Be watchful with this combination
- For alcohol use disorder: 1.5-3 grams of kudzu root extract has been taken in 3 divided doses per day for 1-4 weeks. A single dose of 2 gram of kudzu extract has also been taken before a drinking episode.
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