The "vine that ate the South" may have a positive side after all. Researchers at the McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, investigated kudzu as a treatment to curb excessive drinking. Scientists knew kudzu was used in ancient China to decrease alcohol consumption, so they gave a specially prepared herbal extract containing kudzu to 14, 24-year-old men and women. After determining how much these young adults normally drank, the researchers gave half of the patients tablets containing kudzu, and the other half placebo tablets.
Alcohol consumption was cut almost in half in the group that received the kudzu tablets. Another study at Harvard Medical School also suggests kudzu's potential for helping heavy drinkers reduce their craving for alcohol.
Unfortunately, commercial herbal preparations won't do the trick. They typically contain only 1 percent kudzu, while researchers in the McLean Hospital study manufactured a 30 to 40 percent kudzu extract for their test. Researchers suggest a drug containing kudzu may eventually be on the market to help alcoholics.
For more information on this research go to the Harvard University Gazette.