Author: Alex Thompson

A single dose of kudzu extract reduces alcohol consumption in a binge drinking paradigm

kudzu extract for alcoholism

While it does not completely eliminate drinking, it is clearly effective in significantly reducing intake, which offers individuals an opportunity to engage in more responsible drinking patterns. As a safe, over-the-counter preparation, kudzu may be used alone in initial attempts to curb alcohol consumption, but it may also become a useful adjunct to the currently available prescription medications. This latter scenario might very well permit the use of lower doses of prescription medications and thus reduce the incidence of side effects. Furthermore, because kudzu extract exerts its beneficial effects within hours of the first dose, it could be administered along with a prescription medication and provide “coverage” until the other medication begins to work. Acute alcohol administration resulted in expected, dose-related alterations in subjective, psychomotor, cognitive, and physiological effects.

kudzu extract for alcoholism

These effects typically were greater after the higher dose, and the time course follows the known effects of alcohol (Brasser et al., 2004; Holdstock et al., 2000). Subjective measures of alcohol intoxication were greatest at 30 minutes and returned to or were close to predrinking levels by the end of the assessment period (3 hours). Psychomotor (stance stability/body sway) and cognitive function were most affected at 60 minutes, and they too returned to or were close to baseline by 3 hours. Heart rate and skin temperature effects were collected only for the first 10 minutes after drinking because that was the only period during which the participants were sitting calmly and not required to perform any tasks (and thus offered artifact-free data). During this time, alcohol increased heart rate consistent with previous reports (Kouri et al., 2004; Penetar et al., 2009). Although the number of sips taken per beer did not significantly increase in this study – contrary to what was found in our previous study (Lukas et al., 2005) – we did observe an increase in the time taken to consume a beer which is consistent with our previous study.

May alleviate menopausal symptoms

Second, there is an approved intravenous preparation of puerarin which is used in China to reduce myocardial oxygen consumption and improve cardiac microcirculation (Yue and Hu, 1996; Zhang et al., 2006). Vasodilation would also be expected to result in a mild reflex tachycardia and a corresponding increase in skin temperature due to greater tissue perfusion; both of these effects were observed in the present study. The finding that alcohol intake was reduced without affecting desire to use alcohol at first seemed counter-intuitive.

Extracts of the kudzu plant are best known for their ability to suppress alcohol intake or alter alcohol effects by laboratory animals (Heyman et al., 1996; Keung and Vallee, 1993b; Keung, 2003; Overstreet et al., 1996; Rezvani et al., 2003; Benlhabib et al., 2004). The degree of reduction is often as high as 50% and the effects appeared within one to two days of treatment. Regardless of the actual mechanism of action, it is widely accepted that the isoflavones in kudzu are effective in reducing alcohol intake in a number of mammalian species. A standardized formulation of kudzu extract produced minimal side effects, was well-tolerated and resulted in a modest reduction in alcohol consumption in young non treatment-seeking heavy drinkers. Additional studies using treatment-seeking alcohol-dependent persons will be necessary to determine the usefulness of this herbal preparation in reducing alcohol use in other populations.

  1. This pretreatment time was selected based on our pharmacokinetic study of puerarin absorption and elimination (Penetar et al., 2006).
  2. The participants reported their desire for and consumption of alcohol for the duration of the study.
  3. The lack of side effects after four weeks of treatment with both placebo and kudzu extract is likely one of the major reasons for the high rate of medication adherence.
  4. Subjective measures of alcohol intoxication were greatest at 30 minutes and returned to or were close to predrinking levels by the end of the assessment period (3 hours).

All other authors declare that they have no actual or potential conflict of interest that could inappropriately influence, or be perceived to influence, this work. Various studies have used single, one-time doses or daily doses for a week without reported adverse effects. It’s important to note that these studies used kudzu extract, which may have contained other parts of the kudzu plant besides the root. Thus, scientists need to do more research in this area on the effects of kudzu root specifically. Excessive alcohol consumption is a leading cause of illness worldwide (Shield et al., 2013) and has a significant impact on the health of millions people. The impact of excessive alcohol consumption results in increased healthcare costs, loss of productivity, alcohol-related crime (including assault and sexual abuse), and motor vehicle accidents.

KUDZU – Uses, Side Effects, and More

Subjective and psychomotor effects observed after alcohol consumption are typically attributed to be the direct effects of alcohol on the CNS. There are data to suggest that many of these effects may be due, at least in part, to the primary alcohol metabolite, acetaldehyde (Kim et al., 2009). Daidzin has been shown to inhibit hamster and rat mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH-2) in vitro and is a mixed inhibitor of the human enzyme (Keung et al., 1997). If isoflavones such as daidzin significantly increase acetaldehyde levels in humans in vivo, then this could be a possible mechanism of action. However, in a pilot toxicity study we found no change in acetaldehyde levels in kudzu-treated humans after drinking alcohol (unpublished data). The transient effects of subjective ratings of dizziness alone are insufficient to suggest the presence of a disulfiram-like effect as a result of kudzu administration.

kudzu extract for alcoholism

I took several capsules per day before drinking, and went through all of it in about one month. The Chinese noticed that people who consumed the plant started to drink less. According to traditional Chinese medicine, this plant has cooling properties that balance the heat and false energy created by alcohol.

One study in mice found that kudzu vine extract was highly beneficial in treating alcohol-induced liver damage by scavenging harmful free radicals and boosting the natural antioxidant system (6). Today, the most popular ways to use kudzu root are as an herbal supplement or a root tea. More recently, kudzu root has made its way to Western countries as an herbal supplement. The room contained a small sink with an under-the-counter refrigerator where the beverages (beer, juice, and water) were kept.

While kudzu root may offer a few specific benefits, there are also some potential downsides to consider. Kudzu root is rich in antioxidants, compounds that protect cells from oxidative stress that can lead to disease. The isoflavone puerarin is the most abundant antioxidant compound in the kudzu vine (6). The kudzu plant resembles poison ivy, so it’s important to know how to identify it correctly.

How much is too much alcohol?

My experience was limited to an experiment that I did years ago to see if taking the herb would reduce my drinking levels. I will discuss how it works, my experience with using powdered kudzu root for alcoholism, and recommendations. Stores typically sell it as a powdered drink mix, an oral capsule or tablet, liquid drops, or as a food-grade starch to use in cooking.

Participants were told to relax between each 30-second collection period, but did not move their feet. Assessments were performed after completion of the questionnaires at 30, 45, and 60 minutes after start of alcohol administration; after 1 hour, stance stability was assessed every 30 minutes until the end of the session at 3 hours. The last study above was designed to test the hypothesis that kudzu accelerates the subjective experience of alcohol intoxication. If this were the primary effect of kudzu increasing blood flow, then subjects should feel more intoxicated with fewer drinks after taking it. In 2012, I ordered some high-quality organic kudzu capsules after reading about the potential for it to curb alcohol consumption.

The sample size was relatively small; however, a repeated measures, crossover design was used with participants as their own control receiving multiple pretreatments, each with placebo and alcohol challenges. The present study did not include a treatment condition to specifically analyze the effects of kudzu alone in the absence of any challenge drink. Previous work in this laboratory on the stance stability test has indicated that kudzu alone does not alter this behavior (unpublished results). In the current study, the effects of kudzu pretreatment alone were analyzed through a comparison of results on the 1st challenge day (‘day 8’). This experimental day was always a placebo drink but after either a week of treatment with placebo or kudzu extract. Results from these experimental days again showed no effect of the kudzu extract alone on our measures.

Additional details and photos of the device can be found in Lukas et al. (2005). Drinking data were collected using a small wristwatch-like device (ActiWatch® Score, MiniMitter Co., OR) and daily diaries. The ActiWatch has a small button and digital LED faceplate and participants wore the device 24 hours a day for the entire 8-week study and were asked to record all drug and alcohol use by pressing the button to enter the proper code. Participants were provided with a small card that identified unique codes to record use of alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, and other drugs. Participants were instructed to report when they consumed each drink, which was defined as a 12 oz can of beer, 5 oz glass of wine or 1.5 oz distilled spirits.

Side Effects

You can find kudzu root supplements easily online and in a variety of natural food or supplement stores. Some research specifically on the kudzu species Pueraria mirifica suggests that doses of 50–100 mg per day appear to have a low risk of adverse side effects (18). Small studies in people have observed noteworthy improvements in these menopausal symptoms, among others, like vaginal dryness (9, 10). Some health companies sell the kudzu root species Pueraria mirifica as a supplement for menopausal and postmenopausal women.

What’s more, the kudzu plant leaves, vine tips, and purple flower blossoms are also edible. Kudzu root is the edible part of a trailing vine native to several Asian countries. People have used it for many years in traditional Chinese medicine, and it resembles other root tubers, like yams.