Kudzu - Chinese Herbal Remedy
Kudzu (or Pueraria lobata (syn. Pueraria montana, Pueraria thunbergiana)) is a fast-growing, climbing, woody or semi-woody, perennial vine native to the tropical areas of Japan and China. The plant often reaches the heights of 20–30 m in trees, but also scrambles over lower vegetation.
Kudzu produces long stems and extensive roots. The plant’s leaves are deciduous, alternate and compound, with 3 broad overall leaflets with purple flowers and curling tendril spikes.
The purple flower is about 1-1,5 cm, long and highly fragrant. Kudzu fleshy, massive tap roots reach depths of up to 12 feet in older patches, and often weigh as much as 180 kg.
Kudzu grows well in various conditions and in most types of the soil. Forest edges, abandoned fields, roadsides, and disturbed areas, where sunlight is abundant are preferred habitats for the plant. The perfect condition for kudzu growing is when the winter temperature do not drop below –15 °C, average summer temperatures are regularly above 27 °C with the annual rainfall is 1000 mm or more.
The non-woody parts of kudzu are edible, young leaves are often used in salads or cooked as a leaf vegetable. Flowers are battered and fried, while roots can be prepared as any other root vegetable. For herbal medicine use starchy roots are ground into a fine powder. Added to water and heated, this powder becomes clear and adds stickiness to the food.
Kudzu root powder, tinctures and teas are available at the market within variety of brands.
Vitamins A and D are highly presented in kudzu leaves, as well as calcium and proteins; while flowers of the plant are excellent honey source.
Kudzu root extract was proven by the studies to have 100 times the antioxidant activity of Vitamin E. The root also contains a big number of useful isoflavones which act as anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agents.
Kudzu root extracts have been reported to lessen the desire for alcohol and reduce hangover. They also stimulate liver tissue regeneration and protects against liver toxins, lower blood sugar and blood pressure.
Traditional Chinese herbal medicine uses kudzu root to treat intestinal obstruction, headaches, dysentery, diarrhea, and stomach flu. Tinnitus, vertigo, and Wei syndrome (superficial heat close to the surface) are the conditions in which kudzu’s effectiveness is also proved. Herbal medicine also treats headaches (migraine and other types of headaches), neck pain from hypertension, angina, allergies, diarrhea with the help of kudzu preparations.
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