Kudzu, also known as Japanese or Chinese Arrowroot, is a group of climbing and trailing vines native to several Asian countries.
The root of the kudzu plant has many beneficial effects and has been used in traditional Asian medicine for thousands of years.
Recently, kudzu root has been increasingly used in dietary supplements and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) as it has many purported health benefits.
There are many reasons to recommend kudzu extract supplements, as the plant is easy to grow and contains many beneficial compounds known as isoflavones. However, kudzu has a bit of a reputation problem in the West, as it is considered an invasive weed in Europe and the United States, blamed for large instances of ecological and environmental damage.
Despite its negative impact on Western ecosystems, kudzu has many potential health benefits and may help support heart health and cognitive function, among other conditions. This article will examine kudzu extract’s health benefits, uses, and potential side effects as a dietary supplement to help you choose the right product for your health needs.
Kudzu (aka Japanese arrowroot) is a group of climbing and trailing vines native to East Asia renowned for their quick growth and high isoflavone content. In the United States, kudzu is an invasive weed that spreads rapidly and can damage the environment by crowding out other plants and trees, earning it the nickname “the vine that ate the South”.
Fortunately, kudzu root is rich in isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen with many potential health benefits for liver damage, alcohol dependence, and other conditions. So, while kudzu may be considered an invasive weed, its high levels of beneficial compounds and natural, non-toxic, and renewable nature make it a solid choice for a dietary supplement.
Kudzu root contains more than 70 plant compounds linked to many health benefits, and supplementing with this perennial plant may help treat various health conditions. These compounds, known as isoflavones, are believed to be responsible for kudzu root benefits and may help support heart health and cognitive function and treat various health conditions.
Furthermore, early studies show that kudzu supplements may help treat conditions like alcohol addictions, where prescription medications may have adverse side effects. Based on available studies, supplementing with kudzu extract or regularly consuming kudzu root has many potential benefits, including:
Some studies suggest that kudzu root may help treat alcohol dependence (AKA alcohol use disorder) by reducing the amount of alcoholic drinks people drank after taking a supplement. Researchers found that the kudzu extract reduced weekly consumption of alcoholic drinks by 34-57% but had no effect on cravings for alcohol, helping users reduce their intake naturally.
RELATED: If you’re struggling with alcohol dependence, read our guide to the best vitamins for recovering alcoholics to learn more about supporting your recovery journey with proper nutrition.
Kudzu has often been promoted as a supplement for menopausal and postmenopausal women, as it is believed to help treat common symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and night sweats. Kudzu root contains phytoestrogens – plant compounds that act similarly to estrogen – which may help manage menopausal symptoms by balancing your hormones, though more research is needed to confirm this use.
RELATED: Menopause symptoms are largely caused by falling estrogen levels, so taking vitamins to increase estrogen and progesterone may help to manage these issues.
Research suggests that kudzu may help treat liver damage, as it is high in antioxidants, such as the isoflavone puerarin, which boosts the natural antioxidant system. One study found that kudzu extract was effective in treating alcohol-induced liver damage, but more research is needed to prove whether it may be effective as an alternative medicine.
RELATED: If you’re concerned about your liver health, read our guide on the best vitamins for liver repair to learn how to support your liver health with natural supplements.
While more research is needed to determine kudzu root benefits, some studies suggest that it may have other health benefits, including:
Kudzu root can be eaten as you would other root vegetables, such as rutabagas or potatoes, by frying, baking, or grinding into a powder. Most parts of the kudzu plant – from the roots to the blossoms – are edible, and starch from the roots can be used to thicken dishes much like cornflour.
Kudzu is a highly versatile ingredient, and there are hundreds of recipes out there, but dietary supplements are arguably the best way to enjoy the health benefits of kudzu extract. These dietary supplements (usually containing kudzu powder or a concentrated extract) are designed to provide an effective dose of the beneficial compounds in kudzu root in one easy package.
There isn’t much scientific evidence on the recommended dosage for kudzu root as a supplement, and the suggested doses can vary depending on the manufacturer and type of supplement. Some research on the kudzu species Pueraria mirifica suggests that doses of 50-100mg daily are generally safe, and studies targeting alcohol dependence used doses of 1.2g per day without side effects.
Like many other natural supplements, kudzu root benefits from a low toxicity profile and is generally well-tolerated, though it may cause adverse effects, as with any dietary supplement. More research is needed to determine safe and effective dosages of kudzu root and kudzu extract supplements, so we advise sticking to the recommended dosage of your chosen supplement.
Kudzu is widely used as a food and herbal medicine in Asia and is generally considered safe when used as a dietary supplement, though some people may experience side effects. While kudzu root benefits from a long history of use in traditional medicine – which is a good indicator that it does more good than bad – studies show it can cause side effects, including:
Kudzu root may cause digestive issues such as nausea, diarrhea and bloating in some people. You can mitigate these issues by starting with a small dose of kudzu and letting your system adjust before upping the dose, but you should consult a doctor if these symptoms persist.
Kudzu extract supplements may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and diabetes medications. If you’re taking any medications, you should consult your doctor before taking kudzu supplements, as there is a small risk they may cause an adverse reaction.
While kudzu root benefits from being widely used across multiple generations in Asian countries, it is much less common in Western lifestyles, and allergic reactions have been observed in people who use it in supplements. Allergic reactions to kudzu root are rare, but you should seek medical help if you notice itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing after taking a supplement.
Kudzu supplements have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and are associated with various health benefits, many of which modern medical studies support. Supplementing with kudzu root may help reduce alcohol dependency, improve liver health, and manage menopausal symptoms, making it a promising dietary supplement.
However, while these kudzu root benefits may sound amazing, you should exercise caution with new supplements and search for brands with third-party certifications like the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) stamp. As with any other dietary supplement, we recommend talking with a healthcare professional before using kudzu extract, as it may interact with certain medications and cause side effects in some people.