- Kudzu is a vine. Under the right growing conditions, it spreads easily, covering virtually everything that doesn’t move out of its path. Kudzu was introduced in North America in 1876 in the southeastern U.S. to prevent soil erosion. But kudzu spread quickly and overtook farms and buildings, leading some to call to kudzu “the vine that ate the South.”
- Kudzu’s root, flower, and leaf are used to make medicine. It has been used in Chinese medicine since at least 200 BC. As early as 600 AD, it was used to treat alcoholism.
- Today, kudzu is used to treat alcoholism and to reduce symptoms of alcohol hangover, including headache, upset stomach, dizziness, and vomiting. Kudzu is also used for heart and circulatory problems, including high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain; for upper respiratory problems including sinus infections, the common cold, hay fever, flu, and swine flu; and for skin problems, including allergic skin rash, itchiness, and psoriasis.
- Some people use kudzu for menopause symptoms, muscle pain, measles, dysentery, stomach pain (gastritis), fever, diarrhea, thirst, neck stiffness, and to promote sweating. Other oral uses include treatment of polio myelitis, encephalitis, migraine, deafness, diabetes, and traumatic injuries.
- Health providers in China sometimes give puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, intravenously (by IV) to treat stroke due to a blood clot.
- There is information that suggests kudzu contains ingredients that counteract alcohol. It might also have effects like estrogen. Chemicals in kudzu might also increase blood circulation in the heart and brain.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking kudzu if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
- Bleeding or blood clotting disorders: Kudzu might slow blood clotting. It might make bleeding and blood clotting disorders worse, and it might also interfere with medications used as treatment.
- Cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) conditions: There is a concern that kudzu might interfere with cardiovascular treatments. Kudzu extracts seem to lower blood pressure and affect heart rhythm in animals.
- Diabetes: Kudzu might affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use kudzu.
- Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Kudzu might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use kudzu.
- Surgery:’ Kudzu might affect blood sugar levels and might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking kudzu at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination:
- Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs) interacts with KUDZU:Some birth control pills contain estrogen. Kudzu might have some of the same effects as estrogen. But kudzu isn’t as strong as the estrogen in birth control pills. Taking kudzu along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. If you take birth control pills along with kudzu, use an additional form of birth control such as a condom.
- Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.
- Estrogens interacts with KUDZU: The body breaks down caffeine (contained in kudzu) to get rid of it. Estrogens can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Decreasing the break-down of caffeine can cause jitteriness, headache, fast heartbeat, and other side effects. If you take estrogens, limit your caffeine intake.
- Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.
- Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with KUDZU: Kudzu might slow blood clotting. Taking kudzu along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
- Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
- Methotrexate (MTX, Rheumatrex) interacts with KUDZU: Kudzu might decrease how fast the body gets rid of methotrexate (Rheumatrex). This might increase the risk of methotrexate side effects.
- Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) interacts with KUDZU: Some types of cancer are affected by hormones in the body. Estrogen-sensitive cancers are cancers that are affected by estrogen levels in the body. Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) is used to help treat and prevent these types of cancer. Kudzu seems to also affect estrogen levels in the body. By affecting estrogen in the body, kudzu might decrease the effectiveness of tamoxifen (Nolvadex). Do not take kudzu if you are taking tamoxifen (Nolvadex).
Minor Interaction Be watchful with this combination
- Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with KUDZU: Kudzu might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking kudzu along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
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Source: WebMD, “Kudzu”, www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/