WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
Aug. 28, 2009 -- Kudzu, a fast-growing vine widely considered a nuisance
because it covers everything in its path, may be set for a medical
A new study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food
Chemistry, shows that kudzu root extract may help curb symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that make diabetes and heart
disease more likely. People with metabolic syndrome have at least three of the
The new study tests kudzu root extract in female rats with high blood
pressure that were prone to stroke. Those rats had many of the symptoms of
The researchers, who included Ning Peng and J. Michael Wyss, PhD, of the
University of Alabama at Birmingham, put the rats on a diet free of
antioxidants called polyphenols. They added kudzu root extract, which naturally
contains certain polyphenols, to the diets of some of the rats.
The rats stayed on those diets for two months. During that time, the rats in
the kudzu group gained less weight than the other rats, though the kudzu didn't
hamper their eating habits.
At the end of the two months, the rats in the kudzu group had better blood
pressure, blood sugar, insulin, and total cholesterol levels than the
It's not clear if that's because of the kudzu root extract or because of the
weight difference between the two groups of rats.
No side effects were seen with the kudzu root extract. So the researchers
conclude that kudzu polyphenols may have potential as complements to other
strategies (such as diet and exercise) for reducing metabolic disorders.
The researchers aren't recommending kudzu supplements for people with
metabolic disorders. They didn't test kudzu root extract on people.
The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
but the journal notes that the contents of the study "are solely the
responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official
views of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the
Office of Dietary Supplements, or the NIH."
SOURCE:Peng, N. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Aug. 26, 2009,
vol 57: pp 7268-7273.
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