Information about Kudzu for Alcohol Problems

herbal kudzu for alcoholic treatmentIn 2002, the Society on Alcoholism demonstrated Kudzu as the most promising herb in their symposium, Herbal Remedies for Alcoholism: Promises and Possible Pitfalls.

Kudzu has been used traditionally for thousands of years to treat alcohol abuse. It has recently grown in interest, with some controversy over it’s isoflavone concentration and the method of preparation of it’s biologically active constituents.

Many doctors, pharmacists and even herbalists are unaware of kudzu’s actual active ingredients and the concentration required to reduce cravings effectively. The research within the last ten years has confirmed kudzu’s ancient use to treat alcoholism yet debate remains on what form of kudzu is most appropriate to help you.

Pure or Crude Kudzu?

Research has been misleading. A Harvard study indicates standardized pure kudzu extract at 30-40% as it’s most effective isoflavone concentration to reduce 50% of cravings in just one week in a laboratory drinking setting ( Lukas SE., 2005).

On the other hand, a study (Keung et al., 1996) comparing pure kudzu to crude kudzu (closer to the pure herbal form), found the latter to be ten times more effective. Kudzu as a crude herb has hundreds of constituents that are believed to work in harmony and increase the effect of Kudzu. Manufacturers’ purifying, refining and treating herbs with chemicals isn’t always appropriate. Kudzu could be used as a drug to treat alcoholism, but it may lose the natural balance of rich isoflavones when purified.

Are they sure?

Many are led to believe that the use of standardized kudzu is the only way to assure quality and effectiveness. Standardization of a herb does ensures that the active principle in a herb is pure and present yet is that really important? Experimental research has identified only two isoflavones, daidzin and daidzein upon which Kudzu is standardized but are they sure they’re the right ones?

An best example of confusion consumers face is St. John’s Wort, one of the most popular herbal products. Recently, it has been found that 0.30% hypericin, the active principle that St John’s Wort has been standardized to is inaccurate. It is actually hyperforin, one of the other hundreds of compounds in St John’s Wort that is the active principle. Naturally, pharmaceutical companies are gearing up to market St. John’s Wort standardized to its content of hyperforin.

Who to trust?

Information from researchers and academics whose funding directly or indirectly comes from pharmaceutical companies can be a hard pill to swallow. Up to recently, pharmaceutical companies were unable to cash in on the sale of herbs because they were un-patentable. With the advent of standardization, an exclusive patent for the process of extraction and standardization of a herbal product exists.

The famous Harvard study that indicated a standardized dose of Kudzu at 30-40% concentration was effective to reduce alcohol cravings. While most Kudzu products on the market contained less than 1% isoflavones and were deemed useless. Is this really true?

What to do?

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The most effective Kudzu treatment to reduce cravings is achieved by using the most potent portion of the herb in its natural state as well as a portion of high potency kudzu extract. B.E.C recommends a balanced approach by finding a mixture of both crude and pure forms of kudzu.