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What is Kudzu?

Kudzu is a fast-growing vine native to the subtropical regions of China and Japan. The leaves of the plant contain 3 broad oval leaflets with purple flowers and curling tendril spikes. Because kudzu produces stems that can grow to 20 m (60 ft) in length with extensive roots, it has been used to control soil erosion. Since its introduction to the United States, kudzu has become well established and proliferates in moist southern regions, where it grows vigorously and is now considered an invasive pest.

Scientific Name(s)

Pueraria lobata (Willd) Ohwi. or P. montana (Lour.) Merr. or P. thunbergiana (Siebold & Zucc.) Benth.

Common Name(s)

Kudzu, kudzu vine, Japanese arrowroot, kakka, kakkon, Kakkonto (Japan), Ge Gen, XJL (NPI-028) (China)

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Kudzu was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s to control soil erosion, and although widely recognized as a ground cover and fodder crop in the Western world, the plant has a long history of medicinal use in Asian cultures. Beginning in the 6th century BC, Chinese herbalists used the plant for prevention of intoxication, muscular pain, and treatment of measles. Kudzu is native to Japan, China, and Fiji.

General uses

Current interest in kudzu centers on its use as therapy for alcoholism, although sufficient and consistent clinical trials are lacking. Estrogenic activity of kudzu is also being investigated, although clinical trials are limited.

What is the recommended dosage?

Kudzu extract 3 g daily with 25% isoflavone content has been studied in adult heavy drinkers. In another study, 2.4 g kudzu root was given daily.


Contraindications have not yet been identified.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Avoid use.


None well documented.

Side Effects

A few case reports of allergy exist.


Limited data available.


1. Kudzu. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons 4.0. August 2008. Accessed October 14, 2008.

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