Kudzu (Pueraria Montana or lobata,) an Asian herb, was brought to the U.S. for medicine and as food for animals. It is a traditional medicine for alcohol abuse. Kudzu grows so well in the U.S. that the vines grow into and shade the native trees, endangering the forests.
Kudzu is a legume which fixes nitrogen in the soil. The soil around kudzu emits nitric oxide (NO,) according to Hickman, et al. Kudzu increases soil acidity, mobilizes aluminum and increases nitrogen runoff into the water systems. The NO adds to ozone formation, canceling the progress made in reducing ozone. Kudzu will spread with global warming.
“Now, for the other side of the story.” Kudzu has many health benefits. It is our best source of puerarin, an isoflavone which reduces the conversion of testosterone to estrogen by blocking the aromatase enzyme. Kudzu relieves endometriosis by reducing excess estrogen.
Synthetic aromatase inhibitors treat breast cancer. Breast cancer can become resistant to the drug forms of aromatase inhibitor. Pueraria is an herbal aromatase inhibitor which works against estrogen-dependent cancer. Cherdshewarart, et al, found that puerarin can block mutations.
Kudzu is a strong antioxidant. Oxidation of tissues results from diabetes. Mice treated with puerarin had reduced tissue oxidation after three weeks compared to those not treated.
Kudzu has little toxicity. Pueraria mirifica (Thai kudzu) and kudzu cause no cancerous cell changes. They, actually, reduce the tendency of cells to become cancerous. Thai kudzu has strong estrogen activity. It is an estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) in menopause and can treat breast cancer.
An isoflavone called tectoridin in Pueraria montana is found in the flowers, according to Xiong. It reduces the accumulation of fat in liver cells with or without excessive alcohol use. ‘Fatty liver’ progresses to cirrhosis if untreated. Tectoridin can totally reverse fatty liver.
Kudzu improves blood glucose, insulin and cholesterol levels and blood pressures in rats, according to Peng, et al. Puerarin reverses hearing loss seen in aging rats, according to Chen, et al. Puerarin will likely benefit human hearing loss. Puerarin protects the damaged dopamine-producing brain cells in Parkinsonism. They were studied by Mercer, et al. Puerarin blocks xanthine oxidase enzyme which reduces the uric acid excess in gout.
NOTE: Read more about kudzu and ozone pollution.
Bebrevska, L., et al. In Vivo Antioxidative Activity of a Quantified Pueraria Lobata Root Extract. J Ethnopharmacol 2010 Jan 8;127(1):112-7. University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium. Summary #397. PMID: 19799984.
Chen, JQ, et al. Sodium/Potassium ATPase (Na+,K+-ATPase) and Ouabain/Related Cardiac Glycosides: A New Paradigm for Development of Anti-breast Cancer Drugs? Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2006 Mar:96(1):1-15. Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Summary #386. PMID: 16322895.
Chen, W., et al. Preventive Effects of Pueraria on Presbycusis in Rats. Lin Chung Er Bi Yan Hou Tou Jing Wai Ke Za Zhi. 2009 Aug;23(15):793-5. Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China. Summary #405. PMID: 19947258.
Cherdshewarart, W., et al. The Mutagenic and Antimutagenic Effects of the Traditional Phytoestrogen-Rich Herbs, Pueraria Mirifica and Pueraria Lobata. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2009 Sep;42(9):816-23. Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. Summary #411. PMID: 19738987.
Hickman, JE, et al. Kudzu (Pueraria Montana) Invasion Doubles Emissions of Nitric Oxide and Increases Ozone Pollution. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2010 Jun 1;107(22):10115-9. Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA. Summary 402. PMID: 20479252.
Li Y, et al. Decreased Expression of Aromatase in the Ishikawa and RL95-2 Cells by the Isoflavone, Puerarin, is Associated with Inhibition of c-jun Expression and AP-1 Activity. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Dec;46(12)z;3671-6. Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China. Summary #390. PMID: 18848966.
Mercer, LD, et al. Dietary Polyphenols Protect Dopamine Neurons From Oxidative Insults and Apoptosis: Investigations in Primary Rat Mesencephalic Cultures. Biochem Pharmacol. 2005 Jan 15;69(2):339-45. Monash University, Clayton, Vic., Australia. Summary #372. PMID: 15627486.
Peng, N, et al. Chronic Dietary Kudzu Isoflavones Improve Components of Metabolic Syndrome in Stroke-Prone Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. J Agric Food Chem 2009 Aug 26;57(16):7268-73. University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA. Summary #404. PMID: 19938872.
Tam, WY, et al. The Efficacy and Tolerability of Adjunctive Alternative Herbal Medicine (Salvia Miltiorrhiza and Pueraria Lobata) on Vascular Functions and Structure in Coronary Patients. J. Alern and Complement Med. 2009 Apr;15(4)415-21. Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. Summary #399. PMID: 19388864.
Xiong, Y., et al. Tectoridin, an Isoflavone Glycoside from the Flower of Pueraria Lobata, Prevents Acute Ethanol-Induced Steatosis in Mice. Toxicology. 2010 Jul 15. (Epub ahead of print.) Wuhan University, Wuhan, China. Summary #403. PMID: 20637825.