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Kudzu (Pueraria lobata)

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Also listed as: Pueraria lobata
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • 6"-O-xyloglycitin, 6"-O-xylosyltectoridin, arrowroot, biochanin A, daidzein, daidzein 8-C-glucoside, daidzin, Fabaceae (family), flos puerariae, formononetin, gegen (Chinese), gegen-tanj (TJ-1), genistein, genistin, glycetein, glycitin, isoflavonoids, Japanese arrowroot, kaikasaponin III (KS-III), kakkonto, Kampo, kudzu root, Kwao Kruea Khao, Leguminosae (family), NPI-028, NPI-031, NPI-031G, pedunsaponin B2, pedunsaponin C3, puer, Pueraria eduli, Pueraria flos, Pueraria lobata, Pueraria lobata L., Pueraria lobata Ohwi, Pueraria lobata root decoction, Pueraria lobata (Willd.), Pueraria lobata (Willd.) Ohwi, Pueraria mirifica, Pueraria montana, Pueraria omeiensis, Pueraria peduncularis, Pueraria phaseoloides, Pueraria thomsonii, Pueraria thunbergiana, Puerariae flos, Puerariae radix, Puerariae surculus, puerarin, radix puerariae, spinasterol, tectoridin, tectorigenin, Tianbaokang, triterpenoids, Yufengningxin.

Background
  • Kudzu originated in China and was brought to the United States from Japan in the late 1800s. It is distributed throughout much of the eastern United States and is most common in the southern part of the continent.
  • Kudzu has traditionally been used in China to treat alcoholism, diabetes (high blood sugar), stomach flu, and deafness. Research indicates that puerarin (an ingredient in kudzu) may increase blood flow to the heart and brain which helps explain certain traditional uses.
  • Evidence suggests that kudzu may improve chest pain as well as help with symptoms of diabetes and menopause. However, most studies regarding kudzu were small and had weak designs. Further research is necessary to draw conclusions.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Early research showed mixed results for the usefulness of kudzu in alcoholism. Additional study is needed to draw a conclusion.

C


In limited research, kudzu has shown benefit for sudden deafness. Additional evidence is needed to confirm these results.

C


It has been suggested that kudzu may lower blood sugar and decrease inflammation. Early evidence shows that kudzu may improve insulin resistance in diabetes. Insulin resistance is when the body starts needing higher levels of insulin to be able to control blood sugar levels. Additional study is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.

C


Limited evidence suggests that kudzu may be useful for diabetic eye disease. Additional study is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.

C


Early evidence suggests that kudzu injections may have positive effects in diabetic eye disease. Further research is needed to confirm these results.

C


Early research showed that kudzu in combination with other supplements has benefits in exercise performance. Additional study of kudzu alone is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


In China, kudzu is the main herbal treatment for glaucoma, a disease from increased blood pressure in the eye. Early evidence shows that adding kudzu to standard medicine for glaucoma yields favorable results. Additional research is needed to draw conclusions.

C


Kudzu has a long history of use for heart disorders, including chest pain, heart attack, and heart failure. Early evidence suggests that kudzu may reduce the frequency of chest pain. More research is needed in this area.

C


Early evidence suggests that kudzu injections may have heart protective effects during surgery. Further research is needed to confirm these results.

C


Evidence is mixed regarding benefit in using kudzu for high cholesterol. Further research is needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Early study suggested that kudzu injections may decrease low back pain. Further research is needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


There is conflicting evidence regarding the effects of kudzu on menopausal symptoms. Additional study is needed to clarify these results.

C


Early research showed that kudzu lacked an effect on sleep. Additional study is needed to draw a conclusion.

C


There is conflicting evidence for the benefits of kudzu in people with stroke. Further research is needed before a conclusion may be made.

C


Early research showed that kudzu helps with weight loss. Additional study is needed to draw a conclusion.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Abortion inducing, aging, allergic nasal symptoms, Alzheimer's disease, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, blood clot prevention, bone loss, cancer, circulation, colds, diarrhea, dysentery (bloody diarrhea), elimination of toxins, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), estrogenic effects (female hormone effects), fever, flu, gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), gastroenteritis (stomach flu), hangovers, headaches, high blood pressure, irregular menstrual cycles, itching, leukemia (cancer of blood), liver disease, liver protection, lung blood clots, macular degeneration (eye disease), measles, metabolic syndrome, migraine, muscle pain, neck stiffness, pain, Parkinson's disease, psoriasis (inflammatory skin condition), rash, reperfusion injury (damage to heart due to lack of oxygen), ringing in the ears, sinusitis (inflammation of sinuses), sweat stimulation, trauma, vascular disorders (blood vessel problems), vasorelaxant (reduces tension of blood vessel walls).

Dosing

Adults (over 18 years old)

  • For alcoholism, 0.6-1.2 grams of kudzu root extract has been taken by mouth twice or three times daily for seven days to one month.
  • For heart disease, 400 milligrams of puerarin has been taken by mouth daily for ten days; 200 milliliters of puerarin has been injected into the vein once daily, beginning one week prior to surgery and continuing until the day before surgery; 300-600 milligrams of puerarin in 250 milliliters of 5% dextrose has been injected into the vein daily for 7-20 days.
  • For diabetic kidney disease, 250 milligrams of puerarin has been taken by mouth three times daily in addition to standard diabetes treatment for 12 weeks.
  • For high cholesterol, 20-50 milligrams of Pueraria mirifica has been taken by mouth once daily for 24 weeks; four 200 milligram tablets (containing 25 milligrams of dried Pueraria mirifica root powder) have been taken by mouth daily (two tablets every morning and afternoon) for two months.
  • For menopause, 20-100 milligrams of Pueraria mirifica has been taken by mouth once daily for six months; kudzu powder (containing 100 milligrams of isoflavones) dissolved in water has been taken by mouth once daily for three months; four 200 milligram tablets (containing 25 milligrams of dried Pueraria mirifica root powder) have been taken by mouth daily (two every morning and afternoon) for two months.
  • For sleep, two 500 milligram kudzu root capsules have been taken by mouth three times daily for nine days.
  • For weight loss, 200-300 milligrams of Pueraria thomsonii flower extract has been taken with dinner for 12 weeks.
  • For deafness, 400 milligrams of puerarin in 500 milliliters of 5% glucose was injected into the vein once daily for 10 days.
  • For diabetes, 500 milligrams of puerarin in 250 milliliters of normal saline was injected into the vein once daily for three weeks in addition to standard therapy for diabetes.
  • For diabetic eye disease, 400 milligrams of puerarin was injected into the vein daily for six weeks.
  • For heart protection during surgery, 500 milligrams of puerarin was injected into the vein over 30 minutes beginning at one hour before standard anesthesia.
  • For stroke, 200-500 milligrams of puerarin in 250 milliliters of fluid was injected into the vein once daily for 14-15 days in combination with routine stroke therapy.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for kudzu in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to Pueraria lobata or its plant family. Kudzu in combination with other herbs has been reported to cause rash throughout the body.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Kudzu may result in abnormal heart rhythm, anxiety, back pain, bloating, blocked breakdown of serotonin and dopamine, breast pain, breast tenderness, breast tension, chest discomfort, chill, cold symptoms, dark urine or blood in urine, decreased heart rate and oxygen use by the heart, decreased temperature, difficulty breathing, disulfiram-like reaction, dizziness, fever, headache, heartburn, hives, increased bone formation, increased triglyceride levels, insomnia, itching of the hand and skin, jaw pain, loss of consciousness, muscle pain, nausea, pelvic discomfort, positive Coombs' test, rash, rupture of red blood cells, skin irritation, stomach pain or distress, tiredness, vomiting, and weight loss.
  • Kudzu may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Kudzu may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or low blood sugar, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Kudzu may affect blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs or herbs and supplements that affect blood pressure.
  • Kudzu may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system.
  • Use cautiously in people with high cholesterol, stomach disorders, abnormal heart rhythms, and those drinking alcohol.
  • Use cautiously in people taking agents with estrogenic activity or agents for abnormal heart rhythm or to lower cholesterol.
  • Use cautiously in people taking medications for anxiety, bone loss, the skin, or the nervous system.
  • Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to kudzu or members of its plant family.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid kudzu in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Kudzu may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Kudzu may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Kudzu may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be altered in the blood, and may cause altered effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. People using any medications should check the package insert, and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • Kudzu may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs that lower blood pressure.
  • Kudzu may also interact with agents that affect blood vessel width, agents that affect heart rhythm, agents that affect the nervous system, the blood, or the heart, agents used for the skin, intestines, or the stomach, agents used to prevent bone loss, alcohol, antiandrogens, anti-anxiety agents, anticancer agents, anti-inflammatories, benzodiazepines, bisphosphonates, cholesterol-lowering agents, disulfiram, estrogens, heart rate regulating agents, hormonal agents, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), mecamylamine, methotrexate, nitroglycerin, and weight loss agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Kudzu may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
  • Kudzu may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Kudzu may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may be altered in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the P450 system.
  • Kudzu may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Kudzu may also interact with antiandrogens, anti-anxiety herbs and supplements, anticancer herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, calcium, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, heart rate regulating herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements that affect blood vessel width, herbs and supplements that affect heart rhythm, herbs and supplements that affect the nervous system, the blood, or the heart, herbs and supplements used for the skin, intestines, or the stomach, herbs and supplements used to prevent bone loss, hormonal herbs and supplements, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), phytoestrogens, and weight loss herbs and supplements.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Barnes S, Prasain J, D'Alessandro T, et al. The metabolism and analysis of isoflavones and other dietary polyphenols in foods and biological systems. Food Funct. 2011;2(5):235-244.
  2. Bracken BK, Penetar DM, Maclean RR, et al. Kudzu root extract does not perturb the sleep/wake cycle of moderate drinkers. J Altern Complement Med 2011;17(10):961-966.
  3. Ding RB, Tian K, Huang LL, et al. Herbal medicines for the prevention of alcoholic liver disease: a review. J Ethnopharmacol. 12-18-2012;144(3):457-465.
  4. Kamiya T, Takano A, Matsuzuka Y, et al. Consumption of Pueraria flower extract reduces body mass index via a decrease in the visceral fat area in obese humans. Biosci.Biotechnol.Biochem. 2012;76(8):1511-1517.
  5. Liang S, Xu C, Li G, et al. P2X receptors and modulation of pain transmission: focus on effects of drugs and compounds used in traditional Chinese medicine. Neurochem.Int 2010;57(7):705-712.
  6. Liu XJ, Zhao J, and Gu XY. The effects of genistein and puerarin on the activation of nuclear factor-kappaB and the production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha in asthma patients. Pharmazie 2010;65(2):127-131.
  7. Malaivijitnond S. Medical applications of phytoestrogens from the Thai herb Pueraria mirifica. Front Med 2012;6(1):8-21.
  8. Penetar DM, Maclean RR, McNeil JF, et al. Kudzu extract treatment does not increase the intoxicating effects of acute alcohol in human volunteers. Alcohol Clin Exp.Res 2011;35(4):726-734.
  9. Penetar DM, Toto LH, Farmer SL, et al. The isoflavone puerarin reduces alcohol intake in heavy drinkers: a pilot study. Drug Alcohol Depend. 11-1-2012;126(1-2):251-256.
  10. Song JX, Sze SC, Ng TB, et al. Anti-Parkinsonian drug discovery from herbal medicines: what have we got from neurotoxic models? J Ethnopharmacol. 2-15-2012;139(3):698-711.
  11. Tomczyk M, Zovko-Koncic M, and Chrostek L. Phytotherapy of alcoholism. Nat.Prod.Commun. 2012;7(2):273-280.
  12. Virojchaiwong P, Suvithayasiri V, and Itharat A. Comparison of Pueraria mirifica 25 and 50 mg for menopausal symptoms. Arch.Gynecol.Obstet. 2011;284(2):411-419.
  13. Wong KH, Li GQ, Li KM, et al. Kudzu root: traditional uses and potential medicinal benefits in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. J Ethnopharmacol. 4-12-2011;134(3):584-607.
  14. Xie W and Du L. Diabetes is an inflammatory disease: evidence from traditional Chinese medicines. Diabetes Obes.Metab 2011;13(4):289-301.
  15. Yeh TS, Chan KH, Hsu MC, et al. Supplementation with soybean peptides, taurine, Pueraria isoflavone, and ginseng saponin complex improves endurance exercise capacity in humans. J Med Food 2011;14(3):219-225.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.


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