Kudzu? Who knew?



Probably many of you do know, but I didn’t. While browsing through Ketzel Levine’s lively Talking Plants blog, I found a comment from the endearingly-named “Mom” about kudzu. Mom points out that an extract of kudzu can help cure binge drinking. Several studies—including a Harvard University study—speculate that a substance in kudzu, puerarin, increases blood alcohol concentration, causing the drinker to feel satiated earlier and drink less, cutting his or her intake by as much as half.

That is big news, and I’m surprised I’ve never heard much about it. Makes me think that it was later debunked, as the article I saw when I googled this up was from 2005. You have to wonder about the possibilities of such plants as kudzu and silver lace vine (Polygonum auberti). These are such fast-growing plants. We don’t have kudzu here, but I could swear my neighbor’s silver lace vine is not just aggressive. It seems to have a plan—when I cut off one method of ingress, it find another one, a sneakier, harder-to-notice one. Maybe I should look into distilling it.

I’ll let you know when I’m able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. In the meantime, the kudzu is ready to go, so maybe I’ll pick some up. A money-saver if nothing else!

P.S. Speak of the devil. I just noticed that NPR ran something about this today! Could Mom have been the impetus. If so, here’s how to get something on NPR–post on Levine’s blog!

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Hot Damn ! I thought I knew all there was to know about kudzu, having grown up with it. Don’t think that it helping binge drinking will go well down South, however; they’d rather suffer the consequences than eat the kudzu.

  2. William Shurtleff wrote a book called The book of Kudzu in the 80’s. For a couple of thousand years Asians have used kudzu for detoxing the liver and for alcohol consumption and blood sugar problems, and as a big time food source. Look up kudzu recipes on a search engine and surprise yourself.

    Can you imagine homeless alcoholics eating free kudzu, getting healthier and being able to transform their lives?

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