Study Shows Kudzu to be an Effective Alcohol Treatment

May 31st, 2005

The Chinese herb kudzu appears to be an effective treatment for managing excessive alcohol consumption, particularly binge drinking, reports lead author Scott E. Lukas, PhD, director of McLean Hospital's Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory, in a paper published in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Kudzu, a vine-like legume that contains a number of plant estrogens, could play a significant role in helping to reduce binge drinking, a huge problem on college campuses. Chinese herbal medicines, including kudzu, have long been used to reduce intoxication from alcohol consumption. In addition, animal studies recently showed that this herbal product reduced alcohol intake in rats.

This current clinical investigation is one of the few double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of an herbal medicine. The study looked at 14 men and women, all in their 20s and all reporting regularly consuming three to four alcoholic drinks per day. The study showed that subjects taking kudzu drank dramatically fewer beers than those on placebo, an average of 1.8 per session compared to 3.5. Those on placebo drank about the same number as they did during the baseline experiments. Further, since no side effects were reported, it is likely the dosage can safely be increased, holding out the possibility that taking the herb at a higher dose and for a longer period of time may decrease alcohol consumption even more.

Future studies are expected to look at such possibilities. While kudzu is will never be the magic bullet for alcohol abuse, its value is that it may help people significantly reduce their alcohol consumption.

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