In this article, I’m going to discuss how to use kudzu for alcoholism. Kudzu is an invasive weed that has also been used to treat alcoholism for well over one thousand years.
Taking kudzu will not turn an alcoholic into a nondrinker overnight. Nor will it drastically enhance your quality of life after the first dose. However, if you want to cut down on drinking or detoxify your body during alcohol withdrawal, kudzu may be able to help.
There are many studies showing that kudzu reduces alcohol consumption for heavy drinkers and has a positive effect on the brain-body system.
I will discuss how kudzu works, my experience with using powdered kudzu root for alcoholism, and recommendations for taking kudzu.
Overview of Kudzu
The use of kudzu for alcoholism originated in China around 600 A.D. The Chinese noticed that people who consumed the plant started to drink less. According to traditional Chinese medicine, kudzu has cooling properties that balance the heat and false energy created by alcohol.
Kudzu is thought to increase blood flow throughout the body. When alcohol is consumed, kudzu may reduce the time it takes for it to travel to the brain. A slightly increased concentration of alcohol in the brain results in a quicker reward, which in turn reduces a person’s desire to drink more alcohol.
While the blood flow theory of kudzu for alcoholism may be true, there is likely more going on here. Kudzu contains several active isoflavones, which are natural plant chemicals with antioxidant effects. The most notable isoflavone in kudzu is called puerarin. This compound has a positive effect on the central nervous system and the brain.
Specifically, the regions of the brain associated with alcohol cravings are thought to be more “satisfied” when puerarin is consumed. While kudzu is most often used to reduce the consumption of people who are still drinking, the presence of puerarin in kudzu may also reduce cravings for alcoholics who have already quit drinking.
Beyond these mechanisms, kudzu offers benefits for detoxification and withdrawal symptoms. Kudzu is commonly taken to alleviate the following symptoms:
- Muscle stiffness
- Poor circulation
Although I’m sure it would have helped me detoxify, I did not use kudzu after I quit drinking. My experience was limited to an experiment that I did years ago to see if taking the herb would reduce my drinking levels.
My Experience With Kudzu
In 2012, I ordered some high quality organic kudzu capsules after reading about the potential for kudzu to curb alcohol consumption. I took several capsules per day before drinking, and went through all of the kudzu in about one month.
As expected, I didn’t really feel anything after taking kudzu until I began drinking. I recall feeling a very slight prickly feeling in my skin after I’d had a few drinks, and a mild head rush. I did not feel more drunk than usual, but I definitely drank less. Overall, my drinking during that month declined by around 30-40%.
Because my drinking levels were so stupendously high in the first place, kudzu did not turn me into a moderate drinker by any stretch of the imagination.
My problem at the time was a denial of the severity of my drinking problem. Kudzu did what it was supposed to do – it curbed my drinking noticeably. But as soon as the capsules ran out, I concluded that it hadn’t totally “cured” my problem and that I would eventually find something better. I immediately fell back into my hard drinking ways.
In retrospect, my experience demonstrates the utility of kudzu for alcoholism. If I had been committed to using kudzu to wean off of alcohol and then quit, it might have been a very valuable part of my recovery. I did not know at the time that people also use kudzu to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms; nor did I care, because I did not intend to quit at the time.
In terms of what I felt when I took kudzu, my experience supports the observations of others who note that kudzu might act like a much gentler form of disulfiram or Antabuse. These drugs are often prescribed to alcoholics to keep them abstinent. Even a tiny amount of alcohol can cause violent illness while on these drugs. By contrast, kudzu creates a mild flushed feeling at most and leaves the drinker craving alcohol a bit less.
Because of this effect, kudzu might also be helpful for people who have quit drinking and want to make sure that a potential slip doesn’t become a full blown relapse. Taking kudzu would decrease the chance that a drink would turn into an endless parade of drinks. Of course, it’s up to the individual to ensure that he or she doesn’t use this as an excuse to fall off the wagon.
How To Use Kudzu
Kudzu was introduced to the United States in the late 19th century, and can now be found covering millions of acres across the United States. It is often sprayed with herbicide, so unfortunately your best bet for organic kudzu is a store or the Internet.
Kudzu can be purchased with ease online and it won’t break the bank. However, there are a lot of supplements that claim to contain kudzu that are mostly cheap fillers. Look for supplements that contain organic kudzu powder. Kudzu is known to be extremely safe, with very few reported adverse side effects.
Planetary Herbals Kudzu is the brand I used when I tried kudzu. It is very high quality and the Amazon reviews speak for themselves.
In my opinion, the Planetary Herbals brand is a great option for someone who has not yet quit drinking, and who wants to try pure kudzu powder on its own.
A growing number of double-blind, peer reviewed studies have confirmed the effectiveness of using kudzu for alcoholism. Early research focused on rats with good results, which were later replicated with human subjects.
- Kudzu reduces consumption and abolishes alcohol withdrawal symptoms in rats (source)
- Kudzu extract reduces beer consumption by 50% without side effects (source)
- Kudzu extract reduces drinking in male heavy drinkers (source)
- A single dose of kudzu extract reduces drinking in binge drinkers (source)
- Kudzu extract does not increase self-perception of alcohol intoxication (source)
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 kudzu.
Since this was not the case, the study concludes that the isoflavones in kudzu work through more indirect or complex mechanisms in the brain.
In short, using kudzu for alcoholism may be beneficial for achieving the following goals:
- Reducing the amount of alcohol you consume
- Easing hangover and withdrawal symptoms
- Reducing the severity of a relapse if you’re newly abstinent
My standards for categorizing an herb or drug as a “miracle” supplement are quite high. Something has to create a massive increase in sense of well-being to fit into this category. While kudzu does not quite make the cut, it is definitely worth trying if you’re looking to cut down on or quit drinking.
If you have any questions about using kudzu for alcoholism, please leave them in the comment box below.