New research on humans shows that puerarin, an extract from the kudzu root, reduces alcohol use. Harvard study shows potential of the herbal extract to prevent the disease.
A pilot study by Dr. David Penetar, PhD, of the Harvard Medical School affiliated McLean Hospital shows that puerarin reduces the amount of alcohol consumed and increases the amount of time to drink the alcoholic beverage.
The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, was conducted on 10 healthy humans who regularly consumed alcohol on a weekly basis. The participants were administered 1200 mg of puerarin a day, or a placebo, for one week. Several weeks later, those who received the placebo were then given the puerarin, and those who had previously used puerarin were given a placebo for a week. Subjects had access to juice, water and up to six bottles of their favorite beer for a 90 minute drinking period.
When the participants were given puerarin, they drank fewer bottles of beers, from an average of 3.5 when on placebo, to a low of 2.4 on the extract. When subjects were on puerarin, none of them drank five or six beers, but when on placebo three of them drank five beers, and one drank six beers. Subjects also drank more slowly when they were using puerarin, and waited longer to open their next beer.
Previous research, published in the journal Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, had also showed that kudzu extract (19% puerarin) is effective in reducing alcohol drinking in heavy drinkers.
It’s important to note that even if you use kudzu extract, you will still get drunk. A recent study published in the journal Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research showed that participants who drank alcohol with or without kudzu extract (puerarin) were all intoxicated and showed slower reaction times. When subjects on puerarin were instructed to drink a high dose of alcohol in a short amount of time, their alcohol blood levels rose slightly faster than those on placebo, but peak levels were the same. Kudzu extract increased alcohol’s effects on skin temperature and heart rate in those who ingested a high dose of alcohol.
I asked Dr. Penetar what is the highest safest amount of puerarin per day, and he said that researchers have still not determined that dose. He did however say that the product is safe. He has an ongoing study to verify if a single large dose of kudzu extract before drinking will lower alcohol use. He also told me that he and his colleagues plan to have an MRI study to examine if kudzu extract changes the way alcohol enters the brain.
If you decide to try kudzu root extracts, speak to your doctor before you do. Look for extracts from a reputable company that will provide you with lab assays that certify its purity, potency, and that show it to be clear of contaminants.
If you’re an alcoholic, or know someone who is, medical attention is required immediately. Puerarin could be a helpful extract in the fight against high alcohol consumption, and should be discussed with a doctor.