widely known as kudzu or kuzu is (at least by my opinion) very strange and wicked plant. It reminds me of the tale of Sleeping Beauty in which a prince must overcome a wall of roses to get to his lovely one. However, the reward is worth the effort and the obstacles.
To North America, it was probably brought from its native homeland Asia or South America. While in China and Japan, as well as in Peru, it is highly valued for its curative effects and a wide range of uses in gastronomy and agriculture, for the United States it means something like a plague. The plant is similar to ivy or, for example, canine, but it is something like Hussein Bolt between plants. It is able to grow up to twelve meters high, its daily increment can be up to half a meter and the roots burrow deep into the ground up to a meter and a half. The plant is extremely durable, climbs trees and buildings and is able to smother and destroy everything that comes to its way. Therefore, in 1972, the USA banned kuzu seed trade. On the contrary kuzu root is widely produced in China and Japan.
Nature and Flavour
Kuzu root is cool in nature, sweet and spicy in flavour, and relates to the spleen, stomach, lung and bladder meridians. It eliminates pathogens from muscles and skin, reduces fever and also alleviates thirst and a hangover.
Traditional Uses in TCM
Kuzu root is often used in conditions like a headache, dizziness caused by high blood pressure, thirst (induced by heatstroke), diabetes (mainly of the second type), diarrhoea, alcoholism or nicotine addiction. It calms the liver wind and therefore it is ideal for the spring season. In the spring, liver problems are more noticeable than in other seasons. It is also suitable for cold and flu conditions that develop a high fever. We can use it in rash problems such as measles because it promotes an eruption process to detoxify. I have a really good personal experience with my own kids. Kuzu starch has an inert taste and can be added to teas or soups. I guarantee you that children will not notice anything. Kuzu root promotes the up-flow of energy in the spleen and stomach to stop diarrhoea. Therefore you can use it for the cure of intestinal flu.
showed that kuzu root can reduce fever, lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels and it has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits. Kuzu demonstrably reduces the appetite for alcoholic beverages and other addictive substances. In Japan, it is successfully used as a supportive tool in alcoholism treatment.
The effects of kuzu vary according to its processing. However, since you are not a resident of China, it is likely that you will not come across fresh or dried root. Instead, you will encounter it as a starch that is suitable for thickening soups, as a medicinal ingredient for tea and as part of other recipes. If you have a Japanese grocery store nearby, you can get e.g. kuzu noodles. Kuzu starch is also absolutely indispensable for the production of homemade tofu.
Side Effects and Cautions
Individuals with weak stomach or hypotension should take kuzu root with caution.