Chinese healers have used kudzu to treat high blood pressure and chest pain and to minimize alcohol cravings. Research indicates that puerarin (the active compound in kudzu) may increase blood flow to the heart and brain which helps explain certain traditional uses.
There are several species of pueraria throughout the world. Pueraria lobata is used for menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, and some hormone-dependent cancers.
Evidence suggests kudzu may improve signs and symptoms of unstable angina, improve insulin resistance, and have a positive effect on cognitive function in postmenopausal women. However, most studies have suffered from methodological weaknesses and small sample sizes.
There is conflicting evidence regarding the use of kudzu for alcoholism. The first study performed in humans found kudzu was no more effective than placebo in alcohol cravings. Conversely, one animal study and the most recent human study found that kudzu reduced alcohol intake. Subjects in the human study reported feeling intoxicated earlier and apparently slowed their consumption accordingly. Additionally, no side effects were noted. Additional evidence is needed to clarify these results.
Alcoholism: 1.2g kudzu root extract twice daily for one month has been used (28).
Cardiovascular disease: Puerarin 400mg daily for ten days has been used to improve heart function in patients with chronic cardiac failure (29).
Menopausal symptoms: 50mg daily and 100mg daily of Pueraria mirifica once daily for six months has been used (30). Kudzu powder (containing 100mg isoflavones) dissolved in water once daily for three months has also been used (26).
Known allergy/hypersensitivity to Pueraria lobata, its constituents, or members of the Fabaceae/Leguminosae family.
Use cautiously in patients using agents with estrogenic activity. Kudzu may competitively inhibit the effects of estrogen therapy (47;50;51;52;53;54;55;56).
Use cautiously in patients using antiarrhythmic agents. The kudzu constituent, daidzein, may have antiarrhythmic properties and, theoretically, kudzu may interfere with these antiarrhythmic agents (57;58;59;60).
Use cautiously in patients using anticoagulants/anti-platelet agents. Kudzu isoflavones are reported to have antiplatelet activity. Theoretically, concomitant use of kudzu with agents that may affect platelet aggregation may increase the risk of bleeding (34;36;37;38;39;40;41;42;43).
Use cautiously in patients using antidiabetic drugs. Kudzu may lower blood glucose levels and have additive effects when administered with antidiabetic agents (61).
Use cautiously in patients using benzodiazepines. Puerarin may cause feelings of anxiety, and, theoretically, it may have an antagonistic effect with benzodiazepines (62).
Use cautiously in patients using bisphosphonates. Puerarin may suppress bone resorption and promote bone formation in rats and may interfere with bisphosphonates (63).
Use cautiously in patients using drugs that are metabolized by cytochrome P450 (64). Concurrent use of drugs metabolized by the CYP450 liver enzyme system may result in altered therapeutic levels.
Use cautiously in patients using hypotensive agents. Theoretically, kudzu may interfere with hypotensive agents. Kudzu has vasodilatory and hypotensive effects (25;33;44;45;46;47;48;49).
Use cautiously in patients using mecamylamine. Kudzu may weaken the effects of mecamylamine (65).
Use cautiously in patients using neurologic agents. Theoretically, concurrent use of kudzu with drugs that affect the metabolism of serotonin and dopamine (e.g. MAOIs) may lead to increased serotonin levels and increased risk of serotonin syndrome (66).
Avoid in patients using methotrexate. The coadministration significantly decreased elimination and resulted in markedly increased exposure of methotrexate in rats (67).
Be aware one case of maculopapular drug eruption was noted with kudzu use (69).