Monday, September 30, 2019

The Healing Benefits of... Kudzu??? (including Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease)

Kudzu takes over everything.
Kudzu. That pest of a plant that takes over anything it touches - roadsides, trees, forests, even buildings. An invasive species first brought to the US in 1876, then intentionally planted in the 1930s to prevent soil erosion. Now widely hated by farmers, property owners, and environmental activists. But, did you know that kudzu has been used for centuries in traditional Asian medicine for its healing properties? And, did you know that recent scientific medical studies have backed up this belief in its healing abilities, espeically in regards to treating diabetes and for cardiovascular health?

Although it is primarily the kudzu root that is used in traditional  medicine, and what the recent medical studies have focused on, the leaves and flowers of the kudzu plant are edible, too, and are being increasingly used in alternative medicine.

Nutritional Value of Kudzu Root 

Kudzu roots are rich in antioxidents, including quercetin, isoflavones, geninstein, daidzin, and puerarin. It also contains some protein, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Kudzu is naturally cholesterol-free and gluten-free, and is a good source of fiber.

Uses in Traditional and Alternative Medicine

Kudzu, especially the root, is used in traditional Asian medicine and modern alternative medicine for the following health benefits:
  • To treat alcoholism
  • To aid digestion & reduce stomach problems
  • To improve heart and cardiovascular health
  • To relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • To reduce fever associated with respiratory illnesses
  • To treat headaches
  • To improve blood sugar control in diabetics
  • To reduce inflammation and ease symptoms of inflammation-related diseases

Recent Scientific Medical Studies

Recent peer-reviewed and published scientific medical studies are supporting the traditional health benefits of kudzu root, especially in regards to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and alcoholism.  

From the Journal of Ethnopharmacology (a peer-reviewed medical journal):

"Over seventy phytochemicals have been identified in kudzu root, with isoflavonoids and triterpenoids as the major constituents. Isoflavonoids, in particular puerarin, have been used in most of the pharmacological studies. Animal and cellular studies have provided support for the traditional uses of kudzu root on cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and endocrine systems, including diabetes and its complications. Further studies to define the active phytochemical compositions, quality standards and clinical efficacy are warranted." --- Wong KH, Li GQ, Li KM, Razmovski-Naumovski V, Chan K., Kudzu root: traditional uses and potential medicinal benefits in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases., Journal of Ethnopharmacology, April 12, 2011. (see abstract on

A 2017 study published in the medical journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity reported on the positive "anti-inflammatory effects" of kudzu root, and that it "also exhibits potent antioxidant properties.

Chronic inflammation is linked to several types of arthritis and cancers, as well as cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, among other diseases. The anti-inflammatory effect of kudzu root, therefore, is especially interesting.

Final Thoughts

Kudzu Root Tea
Kudzu root supplements are available on Amazon as pills, powder, and even teas. 

I am not a doctor, and cannot give medical advice. This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, but rather to summarize published information and to give you "food for thought" and a starting point for your further investigation. You should always consult a doctor or other medical professional before taking supplements or attempting self-treatment. 

As with all foods, food allergies are a possibility, so use caution when first consuming kudzu. Pregnant or breast-feeding women should consult a doctor before use.
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