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Kudzu - Pueraria lobata's medicine reviewed

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This plant was  once of interest at the forums and on and off of interest to me but I've not heard much of people's positive experiences with it. If you have anything to share, feel free.

Radix puerariae is one of the most widely used ancient traditional Chinese medicines and is also consumed as food.

Kudzu is now considered for the treatment of many kinds of addictions, metabolic conditions, pain and for it's CNS therapeutic potential.


The most abundant isoflavone of kudzu root is puerarin, but it also contains daidzein, daidzin and other isoflavones

It selectively suppresses ethanol intake and inhibits mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH-2, an enzyme involved in serotonin (5-HT) and dopamine (DA) metabolism and alters monoamine levels. It "specifically targets unique drug related episodic surges in dopamine, a pathophysiologic mechanism that appears to underlie much of drug-seeking behaviour." [1]


" a single dose of kudzu extract (active isoflavone content of 520mg) quickly reduces alcohol consumption in a binge drinking paradigm. These data add to the mounting clinical evidence that kudzu extract may be a safe and effective adjunctive pharmacotherapy for alcohol abuse and dependence. " [study]


It's intriguing as puerarin is also a promising rapid-acting antidepressant compound through AMPAR-mTOR signaling pathway activation and increased BDNF [2], exerts anxiolytic-like effects, which may be "associated with normalisation of 5-HT levels and biosynthesis of allopregnanolone in brain" [3] and alleviated the behavioural deficits induced by chronic stress [4] and may be a "potentially valuable preventative therapeutics for memory-related nervous disorders" [5]. It also possibly acts through opioid system. Available evidence from animal models shows that antioxidant and antiapoptosis activities of puerarin protect neurons against damage in dementia and Parkinson's  (partially prevents the chemically-induced DA neurodegeneration in mice and rats, and stimulates striatal GDNF) and puerarin has been shown to decrease the morbidity of ischemic stroke [6]. It is neuroprotective and there are therapeutic application of puerarin-related compounds in neurodegenerative diseases


It has been called a "potentially valuable preventative therapeutic for brain disorders due to their abilities to promote the neuronal cytoarchitecture and the synaptic functionality"


"The antidiabetes activity of puerarin includes reduced body weight gain, improved blood glucose control, and improved glucose tolerance. R. pueraria has been used to treat diabetes for thousands of years, and Puerarin can reduce blood sugar and increase insulin receptor sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes". 


- Acute administration of puerarin significantly improves glucose tolerance in animal models and is promising in humans:

- Chronic kudzu root supplementation improves glycaemic control, insulin sensitivity in animal models

Kudzu root in the diet in animals is associated with a decrease in fasting glucose and improvements in both glucose tolerance (oral glucose tolerance test) as well as insulin tolerance (indicative of insulin sensitivity)
- Isoflavones act as antidiabetic agents [7] and decreased food intake and body weight gain [8] and Pueraria lobata could interfere with antipsychotic-associated insulin resistance and revert overexpressed IR-related proteins [9]'

-Paradoxically, there is "evidence for the role of phytoestrogenic compounds in improvement of sexual function and testosterone production in male animals" These isoflavones have been linked to "significantly improved androgenic and sexual behaviour parameters. There was also an increase in serum concentration of FSH and improvement in serum testosterone level" [10]

However, like other isoflavones, puerarin, kudzu and its other phytoestrogenic components act in part as selective estrogen receptor modulators displayed preferential affinity for ERβ and altered sperm parameters [11]


There are hints that they may be negative as removing dietary isoflavones in adult male rats causes obesity and diabetes in some models [12] and long-term consumption of a diet rich in soy isoflavones can have marked influences on patterns of aggressive and social behaviour [13]. This is coupled with dysregulation of the HPG-axis and thyroid function


Isoflavones definitely seem like a bad idea developmentally as they "...produced a delay on the onset of puberty and "at high doses of isoflavones ... prevent the stimulation of the secretion of pituitary hormones and the production of T abolishing the onset of puberty" [14]


There is possible for interactions [15]


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26022266
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30284466
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29101599
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28740098
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28734961

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30693344
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30958562
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30402623
[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30946280
[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24489512
[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22278629
[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27469930
[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15053944
[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30924551
[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24710899

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