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Kudzu To Your Health

26 Sep

If you’ve ever lived in or traveled through the South you know what kudzu is. You’ve seen it blanket entire fields, consume barns and other structures, climb telephone poles and extend along the lines, and create a horizon that on one hand looks like a green velvet blanket while on the other appears as though some alien being has taken over the earth. Not unlike the blob.

kudzu-covered-house

Yes, there’s a house under there.

kudzu

kudzu-1

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) was introduced to the US from Asia in 1876 for use as animal fodder, to help prevent soil erosion, and as an ornamental vine. It seemed to like the soil in the Southeast US, quickly taking root and spreading via its rhizome network. It grew so rapidly that it ate up fields and neighborhoods and became known by many colorful names: the “foot-a-night vine” or the “vine-that-ate-the-South.” It grows just that quickly.

But kudzu might be more than that as it seems to possess some significant medical properties. There is ongoing research into its use in such medical problems as migraine headaches, vertigo, cancer prevention, various allergies, gastrointestinal upsets, and as a treatment for alcohol abuse. Now comes a report that it might be useful in the “Metabolic Syndrome.”

The Metabolic Syndrome is an extremely common medical problem that is manifested by obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol (the good one), insulin resistance, and type II diabetes. If untreated, the victims of this syndrome will ultimately develop atherosclerosis manifested by heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Kudzu contains many compounds, including a group known as
isoflavones, which lower blood pressure, improve the cholesterol profile, reduce insulin resistance, and perhaps prevent the onset of diabetes.

And to think most people see it as a nuisance. Which of course it can be.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on September 26, 2009 in Medical Issues, Poisons & Drugs

 

9 responses to “Kudzu To Your Health

  1. Glynn Marsh Alam

    September 26, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I am really familiar with kudzu having lived in the country in N FL during my childhood. Across the road from us, the forest would be covered with it during the summer months. You can’t imagine the snakes and such that lived within that canopy. I’m glad to see there may be a medical use for the stuff. By the way, I lived on a dairy farm. Cows couldn’t eat kudzu because it makes the milk bitter–or so my grandpa said.

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  2. melanieatkins

    September 27, 2009 at 5:29 am

    Well, I live in Mississippi, and we have plenty of kudzu down here. The most I’ve seen is along Highway 49N as I drive north toward the Delta. The drive is seriously spooky at night, with the kudzu making for a sinister landscape.

    I’ve heard some folks have tried to use kudzu to make paper. I don’t know if their experiment was a success, but if so they’ll have a never-ending supply of the stuff. Good to know it has medicinal possibilities, too, because it really is a nuisance–and a creepy one, at that. I’m glad I don’t have to drive through Yazoo City very often at night.

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  3. Lynda

    September 29, 2009 at 5:31 am

    I know kudzu is a pain, but it’s also beautiful. Driving south on I-75 to Florida, you see what appears to be green waterfalls spilling down from the trees. Unfortunately, I’ve heard that it kills those trees because it prevents them from getting light.

    Whatever, it’s here to stay. I hope they find a lot of uses for it. Can you imagine these poor farmers who can’t eke out a living suddenly realizing they own a profitable kudzu farm.

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  4. Jonathan E. Quist

    October 4, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Hmmm… It has medicinal uses, can cover peeling paint on the house…

    If this stuff can choke out Creeping Charlie and Field Bindweed, I want some!

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    • clay

      June 22, 2010 at 9:45 am

      You have no idea what you are wishing for. It grows over a foot a day and NOTHING can stop it. If it gets a foothold near where you live – you will regret the day you ever saw it. It covers fences in a flash, covers homes, covers your lawns – cruize the net and look at pictures of it. It kills all living plants beneath it, including trees – because they cannot get light. It harbors all kinds of snakes beneath it. Killing it is nearly impossible and takes years.

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  5. Ilona

    January 28, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Darn, ignorance is bliss. I loved the look of this plant, but then I like the look of long hanging moss too. I just hope that the intelligent people who are trying to control it are not government employees using our tax dollars. if that is the case, they will import or at greater expence create a pest that controls it, forgetting of course what damage their cure will do…oh well its pretty in picture and along the highway.

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  6. dale

    March 25, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Ahh… ecosystem destruction… so beautiful.

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  7. Linda Sartain

    April 2, 2010 at 6:01 am

    I have been told that kudzu is edible, and that some people make jelly out of the blooms. What an untapped resource, if it really can be harvested and eaten!! Does anyone have any information here?

    As far as eradication goes: a friend of mine who once lived in the Dothan, AL area had a bad infestation on his property. He had it sprayed several times, without success, and finally a local friend suggested he buy a pair of goats and turn them loose on it. They really did the job – completely eating all of it in a couple of seasons. Afterward, he sold the goats. Chemical free solution. Just be prepared to reseed the fields when the goats finish…I’ve heard they don’t leave anything much behind.

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    • Jhon Aster

      June 24, 2010 at 1:38 pm

      You can make flour out of the root by taking off the skin and and crushing it under cold water. That would be a cheap gluten free option.
      If you removed it in winter,you would have a huge source of compostable material with no seeds.

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