What is kudzu?
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.
How is it used 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.
Some people use kudzu for menopause symptoms, muscle pain, measles, dysentery, stomach pain (gastritis), fever, diarrhea, thirst, neck stiffness, and to promote sweating. Other oral uses include treatment of polio myelitis, encephalitis, migraine, deafness, diabetes, and traumatic injuries.
Health providers in China sometimes give puerarin, a chemical in kudzu and normally extracted from kudzu, intravenously (by IV) to treat stroke due to a blood clot.
How does it work?
There is information that suggests kudzu contains ingredients that counteract alcohol. It might also have effects like estrogen. Chemicals in kudzu might also increase blood circulation in the heart and brain.