Kudzu is a vine in the pea family that was ushered from Japan to the U.S. in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition as a decorative plant. In the 1930s and 1940s it was used to prevent erosion of soil in the southeastern U.S.
Young kudzu has prickly-haired, yellowish green stems, but with age the stems lose their hair and turn grayish brown. The stem has large, alternating dark green leaves with hair on their backsides. Kudzu's spiky, reddish-purple flowers grow in clusters. The roots are large and travel deep.
Kudzu grows fast -- about a foot per day -- spreads out, about 50 feet across, and climbs up to 100 feet. The vine has been used for medicinal purposes in China since around 200 BC.
Many parts of kudzu, including the flower, root, and leaf, are used for therapeutic purposes::
Headaches and migraines
High blood pressure
Cold and flu
In 2012, researchers at McClean Hospital in Massachusetts found that a compound from the kudzu root, known as puerarin, alters drinking patterns in people with alcoholism. The study authors conclude that kudzu may be useful in alcoholism treatment. Volunteers who were given 1200mg of puerarin daily drank less beer compared to study participants who were given a placebo.
Puerarin, an isoflavone derived from the kudzu root, is a traditional Chinese medicine used to prevent blood clots in stroke patients.
The leaves of the kudzu are very versatile. They can be used as food and to make baskets. Kudzu vines have been harvested to make paper.
Kudzu may be effective for:
An alternative to estrogen
Improved blood circulation to the heart and brain
More research is needed regarding usage for:
Cold and flu
Alcoholism and alcohol-induced hangovers
Symptoms of menopause
High blood pressure
Please note that these lists are not exhaustive. Check with your doctor to see if treatment with kudzu is right for you.
Safety concerns and side effects
Kudzu is safe to use up to four months for most people.
There seems to be no side effects associated with kudzu when taken orally. If you experience any, let you doctor know.
Kudzu administered via IV may cause itching, nausea, and red blood cell damage.
Do not use kudzu if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a bleeding or clotting disorder, cardiovascular problems, estrogen-sensitive condition (breast cancer or uterine fibroids, for example), or diabetes.
Certain medications, when taken with kudzu, can cause adverse side effects. Ask your doctor before using kudzu if you are taking medication, including the following:
Estrogen: Kudzu has caffeine and estrogen can affect how fast the body eliminates the stimulant. So limit your coffee, tea, and cola intake if you're on estrogen.
Blood thinners: Kudzu may interfere with clotting, so mixing these could cause bleeding problems.
Methotrexate: Kudzu may affect how quickly the body eliminates this cancer medication, thus possibly heightening its side effects.
Tamoxifen: Kudzu may hinder the effectiveness of certain cancer treatment medications.
Birth control pills: Kudzu can thwart the effectiveness of birth control drugs. Use other forms of birth control if you consume kudzu.
Diabetes medication: Keep track of your blood sugar if you consume kudzu since it is known to lower blood sugar levels.
Kudzu was deemed a pest weed in the 1950s and a federal noxious weed in 1998. It is especially problematic from Connecticut to Florida and Texas. Oregon and North Dakota also have issues with the vine. Kudzu can thrive in a variety of climates. The fast and furious way it grows can wreak havoc.
Kudzu can limit the amount of light, water, and food that plants and trees receive, strangle root systems, cover and uproot trees, and smother vegetation. It can also limit access and hinder the work of rangers, woodland workers, and explorers.
Kudzu dosage for consumption and medicinal purposes vary. Consult your healthcare provider for the dosage that's right for you.Inform your healthcare provider of all supplements and complementary care you use. Herbs and other supplements are not strictly regulated by the government. Product safety and consistency are not guaranteed. Effects may vary according to brand and batch.
While we don't sell kudzu, you can compare brands and price here at PricePlow.
USDA Forest Service, Forest Health Staff, Newtown Square, PA;Weed of the Week: Kudzu
National Park Service;Kudzu; 2010
Missouri Department of Conservation;Kudzu; 2011
- Penetar DM; Drug and Alcohol Dependence; "The isoflavone puerarin reduces alcohol intake in heavy drinkers: a pilot study." 2012