Kudzu vine root

Chinese Name: Ge gen
Medical Name:
Latin Name: Pueraria lobata (Willd) Ohwi.
Taste: Sweet, pungent and mild

Quotes from Chinese historical sources

THE HERBAL CLASSIC OF SHEN-NONG: "Its flavour is sweet and mild. It acts against diabetes, fevers, nausea, and various bi-syndromes (a syndrome marked by arthralgia, numbness and dyskinesia of the limbs; due to attack of the meridians of the limbs by wind, cold and wetness evils), Counteracts the effects of poisons and stimulates ying in the body."

OTHER CLASSIFIED RECORDS OF FAMOUS DOCTORS: "Not poisonous. Best known as a treatment for typhoid and for headaches, it expels toxins from muscles, opens the pores of the skin and induces perspiration. It treats wounds inflicted by metal objects and relieves pain of all kinds, especially wind-wetness pain in the ribs. Use the juice of the raw root, with its strongly cold properties, in cases of diabetes and of typhoid fever."

THE ESSENTIAL MATERIA MEDICA: "The peaceful spirit of the kudzu vine root carries the golden spirit of autumn through the Taiying channel of the lungs. Its flavour, sweet and pungent without being poisonous, is able to bring the essence of a golden soil into the foot of the Yangming channel, a yang channel located anterior to the Taiying and Shaoyang channels. Here, as the Yang-energy develops to its final stage, it helps dry the golden stomach. The smell is light and pure; it also is Yang-energy. It is most effective against diabetes. Kudzu vine root is sweet and pungent. It elevates the spirits of the stomach, and when the spirit rises the fluids of the body rise as well."

Western Research

J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Jul-Aug;12(6):543-8.
Pharmacokinetic profile of the isoflavone puerarin after acute and repeated administration of a novel kudzu extract to human volunteers.
Penetar DM, Teter CJ, Ma Z, Tracy M, Lee DY, Lukas SE.
Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA 02478, USA
OBJECTIVES: This study was undertaken to assess the pharmacokinetic profile of puerarin, the major isoflavone found in a kudzu (Pueraria lobata) extract after acute and repeated administration. METHODS: Participants were given either single or repeated doses of kudzu extract, and blood samples were collected for either 8 or 72 hours for subsequent pharmacokinetic analyses of puerarin. RESULTS: Using WinNonlin pharmacokinetic data analysis software, puerarin was found to be rapidly absorbed via the oral route, reach peak levels at 2 hours, and have a half-life of approximately 4.3 hours. The elimination half-life was not significantly altered after repeated administration. CONCLUSIONS: A formulation of kudzu extract delivers a large amount of the principal isoflavone in a rapid manner. The elimination rate constants and the mono-exponential decline in blood levels suggest that a one compartment model adequately explains how puerarin is handled by the body. Three times a day dosing is recommended as accumulation will not occur, and plasma levels remain at levels that are biologically active, even 8 hours after the last steady-state dose.

Life Sci. 2005 Nov 4;77(25):3183-96.
The study of anti-metabolic syndrome effect of puerarin in vitro.
Xu ME, Xiao SZ, Sun YH, Zheng XX, Ou-Yang Y, Guan C.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Zhejiang University (Yuquan Campus), Hangzhou 310027, PR China.
Puerarin is an isoflavone extracted from Chinese plant, Pueraria lobata (Wild.) Ohwi. It has been reported to have comprehensive pharmacological action in treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The purpose of this study was to link the scattered effects of puerarin and to find the common mechanisms underlying. We investigated the effect of puerarin on the pivotal common pathogenic factors of metabolic syndrome, which includes obesity, Type II diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Recently, a large body of evidence indicates that there is a complicated interplay among insulin resistance, adipocytes and endothelial dysfunction that links the abnormalities of metabolic syndrome. Results of present study showed that puerarin could potentiate insulin-induced preadipocyte differentiation, promote glucose-uptake of adipocytes that have been induced insulin resistance by high glucose, and prevent TNF-a-induced apoptosis and viability loss of endothelial cells. Furthermore, we found that these effects are probably due to promote PPARgamma expression and partly through inhibiting abnormal TNF-a-induced intracellular-free Ca(2+) accumulation of endothelial cells. Overall, our synthetical study links the comprehensive pharmacological actions of puerarin to the recognized common pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome, and provides a new insight into the mechanism of puerarin effect.

Menopause. 2003 Jul-Aug;10(4):352-61.
Comparison of Pueraria lobata with hormone replacement therapy in treating the adverse health consequences of menopause.
Woo J, Lau E, Ho SC, Cheng F, Chan C, Chan AS, Haines CJ, Chan TY, Li M, Sham A.
Department of Community and Family Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
OBJECTIVE: Pueraria lobata (PL) is used as a traditional Chinese herbal remedy for menopausal symptoms, as well as an ingredient in preparations for conditions affecting menopausal women, such as osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, and some hormone-dependent cancers. The scientific basis for its action may be its action as a phytoestrogen. DESIGN: To examine the effects of PL in comparison with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on lipid profile, sex hormone levels, bone turnover markers, and indices of cognitive function. For the study, 127 community-living, postmenopausal women aged 50 to 65 years were randomized to receive HRT (n = 43), PL (equivalent to 100 mg isoflavone; n = 45), or no treatment (n = 39) for 3 months. The following measurements were carried out at baseline and after 3 months for all participants: menopausal symptoms questionnaire; neuropsychological tests covering memory, attention, motor speed, and word-finding ability; quality of life (SF36); lipid profile; urinary deoxypyridinoline; dietary phytoestrogen intake and urinary phytoestrogen; estradiol; follicle-stimulating hormone; and luteinizing hormone. RESULTS: Only participants in the HRT group showed a mean reduction in cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol that was significantly different from that of the control group. No significant changes in lipid profile or follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone were observed in the PL group compared with the controls. However, both the HRT and PL groups showed an improvement in Mini-Mental State Examination score and attention span compared with the case of participants receiving no treatment. HRT and PL had different effects on cognitive function; HRT improved delayed recall, whereas flexible thinking seemed improved in the PL group. CONCLUSIONS: This study was unable to demonstrate a scientific basis for the use of PL for improving the health of postmenopausal women in general. However, the effect of PL on cognitive function deserves further study.

J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Apr 9;51(8):2193-9.
Evaluation of the estrogenic effects of legume extracts containing phytoestrogens.
Boue SM, Wiese TE, Nehls S, Burow ME, Elliott S, Carter-Wientjes CH, Shih BY, McLachlan JA, Cleveland TE.
Agricultural Research Service, Southern Regional Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture, New Orleans, Louisiana 70179, USA.
Seven legume extracts containing phytoestrogens were analyzed for estrogenic activity. Methanol extracts were prepared from soybean (Glycine max L.), green bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), alfalfa sprout (Medicago sativa L.), mung bean sprout (Vigna radiata L.), kudzu root (Pueraria lobata L.), and red clover blossom and red clover sprout (Trifolium pratense L.). Extracts of kudzu root and red clover blossom showed significant competitive binding to estrogen receptor beta (ERbeta). Estrogenic activity was determined using an estrogen-dependent MCF-7 breast cancer cell proliferation assay. Kudzu root, red clover blossom and sprout, mung bean sprout, and alfalfa sprout extracts displayed increased cell proliferation above levels observed with estradiol. The pure estrogen antagonist, ICI 182,780, suppressed cell proliferation induced by the extracts, suggesting an ER-related signaling pathway was involved. The ER subtype-selective activities of legume extracts were examined using transiently transfected human embryonic kidney (HEK 293) cells. All seven of the extracts exhibited preferential agonist activity toward ERbeta. Using HPLC to collect fractions and MCF-7 cell proliferation, the active components in kudzu root extract were determined to be the isoflavones puerarin, daidzin, genistin, daidzein, and genistein. These results show that several legumes are a source of phytoestrogens with high levels of estrogenic activity.

J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Dec 18;50(26):7504-9
Evaluation of antioxidant activity of some natural polyphenolic compounds using the Briggs-Rauscher reaction method.
Cervellati R, Renzulli C, Guerra MC, Speroni E.
Dipartimento di Chimica G Ciamician, Universita di Bologna, Via Selmi 2, I-40126 Bologna, Italy.
A new method based on the inhibitory effects of antioxidants on the oscillations of the hydrogen peroxide, acidic iodate, malonic acid, and Mn(II)-catalyzed system (known as the Briggs-Rauscher reaction), was used for the evaluation of antioxidative capacity. With this method, which works near the pH of the fluids in the stomach (pH approximately 2), a group of natural compounds present in fruits and vegetables or in medicinal plants assumed to have antioxidant capacity, was tested successfully. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the antioxidative properties of some active principles contained in vegetables and aromatic plants, namely, cynarin (from Cynara scolymus), rosmarinic acid (from Rosmarinus officinalis), echinacoside (from Echinacea species), puerarin (from Pueraria lobata), and oleuropein (from Olea europea). Also studied with the Briggs-Rauscher reaction method was the antioxidant activity of cyanidin 3-O-beta-glucopyranoside (from Citrus aurantium) in order to compare the results with those obtained by other methods. The conclusions on the dependency of the antioxidative activity on the pH of the testing system are given.
PMID: 12475261 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1989 May;14(5):308-11, 277.
[Recent advances in the experimental study and clinical application of Pueraria lobata (Willd) Ohwi] [Article in Chinese]
Lai XL, Tang B.
This paper presents a review on recent advances in experimental study and clinical application of Pueraria lobata. Experiments indicate that from Pueraria lobata many effective constituents can be extracted. The efficacy for arrhythmia etc. is obvious. The clinical use for various diseases in internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, dermatology and E.N.T. has also proved effective. pueraria lobata is supposed to have wide application.