Kuzu is a wild climbing plant that has many beneficial properties. It is mainly used to reduce the symptoms of alcohol and nicotine addiction.
What Is Kuzu?
Kuzu, or Kudzu (Pueraria montana lobata), is a wild climbing plant native to Japan and belonging to the Fabaceae (legume) family. This plant is perennial (a definition given to all plants that live more than two years) and very long-lived, so much so that it can live up to 100 years. It is a genuinely resistant plant: its roots can develop up to 100 meters long, while its branches can grow up to 30 cm in a day and up to 30 m in a season.
This plant has long, thick rhizomes, hairy stems, and vine-like leaves. The purple flowers are 25 cm long and are followed by flat, hairy seeds that divide between themselves when they reach maturity. The most used parts are the roots and, sometimes, also the leaves: the first, collected from October to April, are used to extract the juice or undergo a drying process (in the sun or with artificial procedures) to create the decoction or the dust; the flowers, however, are collected around the end of summer or the beginning of autumn and are dried in the shade.
Excellent infusions are made from them. Kuzu is mainly exploited for the richness of the starch contained within its roots. Still, suppose the plant needs to be cultivated with a specific control. In that case, it becomes harmful due to its weedy characteristics, as it expands too rapidly and prevents the plant from spontaneously growing and creating biodiversity. Kuzu is widespread throughout the Far East and, to a greater extent, in Japan, along the slopes of volcanoes and mountains.
Mainly, this plant’s three varieties are known very similarly: Pueraria montana chinensis, Pueraria montana lobata, and Pueraria montana thomsonii. This enchanting vegetable has been used throughout the eastern territory for centuries as a food or natural remedy. Today, thanks to its numerous and well-known properties, kudzu has become popular and widely used even in the Western world, as it is recognized as a precious ally for those who wish to quit smoking. Its properties, however, are many. Let’s discover them together.
Therapeutic Properties And Benefits Of Kuzu
- In traditional Chinese medicine, kudzu has been used for over 2000 years and still represents one of the 50 fundamental herbs for phytotherapy.
- This plant has always helped heal infectious diseases, respiratory tract difficulties, migraines, psoriasis, diarrhea, hypertension, allergic symptoms, and muscle pain.
- Kuzu is a natural gastroprotection; its root has been recognized as having a solid soothing and alkalizing properties, helpful in alleviating and solving various gastrointestinal problems such as stomach acidity, reflux, irritable colon and intestines, and ulcers.
- Kuzu acts directly on the mucous membranes by absorbing gastric acids, facilitating digestion, and providing immediate relief from pain and heartburn. Furthermore, in addition to healing, it can prevent acidity and the consequent rise of gastric juices towards the oesophagus and respiratory tract.
- Furthermore, its effectiveness in solving some addiction problems has long been recognized. The detoxifying effect of Kuzu guarantees such rapidity as to drastically reduce the symptoms of alcohol and nicotine addiction, playing a fundamental role in counteracting the receptors of these substances and preventing the onset of withdrawal crises.
- Studies conducted at the Universities of North Carolina and Harvard have shown that Kuzu (through isoflavones) acts on neurotransmitters such as serotonin, glutamate, and GABA to stimulate dopamine production and have no significant side effects. In this way, it replaces substances such as drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and sugars, compensating for the pleasure felt through their intake.
- The detoxifying properties of the Kuzu root are attributable to the high content of isoflavones, particularly genistein (an anti-leukemic agent) and d(an idzein, a potential molecule capable of acting against cancer. It is also an important antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.
- Kuzu can also represent a precious natural remedy in cases of hypertension or migraines since the isoflavones it contains can reduce blood pressure while improving blood circulation and oxygenation. Furthermore, this beneficial plant also has antioxidant properties that slow down the narrowing of the arteries. Some studies have demonstrated kudzu’s effectiveness in treating angina pectoris in heart patients.
This plant is a universal remedy, as it exerts a pain-relieving, muscle-relaxing, antioxidant, and antipyretic action, creates relief, facilitates digestion by disinflaming the intestine, and is very effective against stress.
Kuzu In The Kitchen
Given the properties described above, Kuzu is a product widely used in the pharmaceutical industry for the production of patches, sprays, and chewing gum (for therapeutic use) to combat various types of addiction. However, it is also possible to use the roots and leaves of kudzu in the kitchen as a natural thickener for the preparation of soups, sauces, and desserts. It represents a very valid substitute for cornstarch. It is widely used as a gelling agent in sauces, soups, and noodle dishes.
Main Uses Of kuzu
- Root powder is used as a thickener. To densify a food, we recommend the following dose: one tablespoon of kudzu root powder for one cup of liquid food, two teaspoons for two cups, and so on. (Dissolve a tablespoon of kudzu in a tablespoon of water and add it to a cup of liquid.)
- Kudzu flower infusion Kudzu flowers, on the other hand, are mainly used as an infusion. In this case, we recommend immersing two tablespoons of dried kudzu leaves in a cup of boiling water and filtering after about 5 minutes of information.
- Beverage. Using Kuzu as a drink is also possible by dissolving its powder in a cup of water and stirring until boiling. In this way, you obtain a preparation to add soy milk.
Buying kuzu online, in herbalist shops, and in specialized organic shops is possible.
The cost of root powder is around 9 euros per hectogram and can vary depending on the manufacturing company.
There is no evidence of particular side effects due to using kuzu, even if used in high doses.
However, we suggest taking the necessary precautions with children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding women, at least until scientific studies can demonstrate that, even for these subjects, this plant is 100% harmless. People with heart disease (who use medicines to compensate for the malfunctioning of the cardiovascular system) must avoid taking kudzu unless a specialized doctor supervises its safety and recommends the correct dosage.
Due to its hypotensive properties, patients taking medicines with the same function could experience essential side effects, such as an excessive drop in blood pressure, which a series of severe consequences could follow. Women taking birth control pills should avoid consuming kudzu in all its forms, as this plant contains substances that behave like estrogen in the body.
This means that taken together with these medicines, kudzu reduces their effectiveness. Even diabetics who take insulin or hypoglycemic medicines must avoid eating derivatives of this plant since it has the same properties and, therefore, lowers the level of sugar in the blood.
Anyone who regularly takes any medicine should always contact their doctor for advice and clarification on possibly adding kuzu to their diet.
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