Kudzu is a vine. Under the right growing conditions, it spreads easily, covering virtually everything that doesn’t move out of its path. Kudzu was introduced in North America in 1876 in the southeastern U.S. to prevent soil erosion. But kudzu spread quickly and overtook farms and buildings, leading some to call to kudzu “the vine that ate the South.”

Kudzu’s root, flower, and leaf are used to make medicine. It has been used in Chinese medicine since at least 200 BC. As early as 600 AD, it was used to treat alcoholism.

Today, kudzu is used to treat alcoholism and to reduce symptoms of alcohol hangover, including headache, upset stomach, dizziness, and vomiting. Kudzu is also used for heart and circulatory problems, including high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain; for upper respiratory problems including sinus infections, the common cold, hay fever, flu, and swine flu; and for skin problems, including allergic skin rash, itchiness, and psoriasis.

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  • Kudzu
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking kudzu if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

    Bleeding or blood clotting disorders: Kudzu might slow blood clotting. It might make bleeding and blood clotting disorders worse, and it might also interfere with medications used as treatment.

    Cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) conditions: There is a concern that kudzu might interfere with cardiovascular treatments. Kudzu extracts seem to lower blood pressure and affect heart rhythm in animals.

    Diabetes: Kudzu might affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use kudzu.

    Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Kudzu might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use kudzu.

    Liver disease: There is some concern that taking kudzu might harm the liver. In theory, kudzu might make liver diseases, such as hepatitis, worse. People with liver disease or a history of liver disease should avoid kudzu.

    Surgery: Kudzu might affect blood sugar levels and might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking kudzu at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
  • The appropriate dose of kudzu depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for kudzu. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.