Study Finds Chinese Herb Kudzu May Cut Binge Drinking

By Sharon Moore on May 18, 2012

In a study published recently in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers looked at one of the major components of Kudzu – a traditional Chinese herbal medicine and found that it has the ability to lower down alcohol level in the body.

Kudzu for Binge Drinking

Kudzu is a climbing, trailing vine native to Southeast Asia and Japan. History wise, this herb has been used to cut drinking in China even during the 600BC. To test whether it is indeed effective in reducing binge drinking, health experts from the Harvard Medical School and Behavioural Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory at McLean Hospital conducted a research to determine whether there is scientific basis for this effect.

After a series of experiments, they found that a chemical compound called isoflavone puerarin (extracted from the plant’s roots) significantly reduced alcohol content in the body without producing adverse side effects. The researchers pointed out that this plant can be helpful in curbing binge drinking and treating alcoholism. At present, the primary method used to address alcoholism is the use of medical drugs which are known to have negative effects.

The lead author, Dr David Penetar from McLean Hospital pointed out that more studies should be done to attest this claim but this herbal medicine may lead to the development of other methods that can safely treat alcohol abuse and dependence.

How did they arrive on their findings?

The study involved 10 men and women in their 20s who reported to be consuming alcohol on a weekly basis. The researchers from McLean Hospital set up a laboratory in an apartment to simulate binge drinking. They placed a refrigerator filled with the favourite drinks and beers of the participants. There’s a TV, DVD player, and other amenities.

During the first trial which lasted for 90 minutes, participants were allowed to consume as much beer they wanted with a maximum of 6. Then, some of them were given puerarin while the others took a placebo pill for one week. Then, same group of young drinkers was set to another drinking session. Then they were asked to take same course of medications for another two weeks. Participants were asked to return to the third, fourth, and final drinking sessions to test whether there’s any decline in their regular consumption. The results showed that those who took puerarin significantly lowered down their alcohol intake from a minimum of 3.5 beers to 2.5.

’They drank slower and took more sips to finish a beer,’ said Dr Penetar.

The researchers noticed that the participants who took the puerarin pill did not only drink less but their rate of consumption also went down. While the study doesn’t suggest that the herb will not stop alcoholism, it can help reduce dependence.

Source of this article:

McLean Hospital study finds Herbal Extract may curb binge drinking, by McLean Hospital

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