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Nov 23, 2014

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Kudzu herb could help curb binge drinking

May 18, 2005 - The kudzu vine could help curb binge drinking, according to new research. Kudzu, an ever-expanding plant considered a pest in much of the South, appears to contain a compound that can be effective in reducing alcohol intake among humans.

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Researcher Scott Lukas and a team at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital recruited 14 men and women in their 20s to spend four 90-minute sessions consuming beer and watching TV. Researchers selected people who said they regularly consumed three to four drinks per day.

The research found that subjects who took kudzu drank an average of 1.8 beers per session, compared with the 3.5 beers consumed by those who took a placebo.

Lukas was not certain why but speculated that kudzu increases blood alcohol levels and speeds up its effects. In other words, the subjects needed fewer beers to feel drunk. "That rapid infusion of alcohol is satisfying them and taking away their desire for more drinks," Lukas said. "That's only a theory. It's the best we've got so far."

In 2003, David Overstreet and other scientists found the herb to be effective in reducing alcohol intake on rats.

"There's a lot of anecdotal evidence from China that kudzu could be useful, but this is the first documented evidence that it could reduce drinking in humans," said Overstreet, who described Lukas' work "groundbreaking."


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