Many of us have been there — you wake up on Saturday morning after a night out with friends, with a throbbing headache and a upset stomach that only more sleep, pancakes, and lots of coffee and water seem to help. But what if there were a natural way to get rid of your hangover? Enter kudzu, some say.
What Is Kudzu?
If you live in the southern U.S., you’ve definitely heard of this creeping vine, though probably not as a hangover remedy. Brought over from China and Japan in the late 1800s, kudzu was originally used to create shade and as a way for farmers to hold down topsoil. Today, the invasive plant covers thousands of acres along the eastern coast and the southern United States.
However, long before it was used in agriculture, the Chinese had been using kudzu as an herbal remedy. For over 2,000 years, kudzu root, Pueraria lobata, has been used to treat ailments ranging from a common cold and fever to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Today, both the kudzu root and flower are gaining popularity as potential hangover cures, and remedies that include one or both are available online as well as in stores. It might sound like the perfect natural remedy we’ve all been waiting for, but does it really work?
No Hangover Cure-All
Despite its growing popularity, there’s been very little research into kudzu’s effectiveness as a treatment. Based on the few studies so far, it isn’t looking good for those hawking kudzu as a hangover cure-all.
One study concluded that while both kudzu root and kudzu flower have been traditionally used to treat hangovers — with kudzu flower as the more frequently used of the two — it might not be the best option for you. Chronic use of the herb in high doses is linked with the inhibition of certain genes, which can then lead to the formation of tumors. This doesn’t mean that it’s dangerous to drink your kudzu tea, but when you’ve just had too many beers, it might be best to stick with pancakes.
The Key to Sobriety?
Much more research has been done on kudzu and alcoholism — specifically, whether or not the herb can curb the desire to drink. Unfortunately, the results so far are somewhat inconclusive.
There is some evidence that kudzu can both suppress the intake of alcohol and lessen symptoms of withdrawal. However, more recent findings show that drinking kudzu extract before drinking alcohol has little to no effect on the person’s desire for alcohol or how much they were able to drink.
With no concrete evidence for either side of the argument, the jury is still out on this one.
What Else Might It Help With?
Even though kudzu’s potential as a hangover remedy has yet to be determined, that doesn’t mean that this medicinal plant is without its wide range of uses.
For now, kudzu is not the hangover cure you’re looking for. If your curiosity is still piqued by this ancient Chinese herb, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more information.