Kuzu: properties and how to use it

Kuzu is an increasingly common ingredient in some recipes and in some home remedies to relieve minor ailments. Are you curious to know what it is and how to prepare it?

Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa on August 30, 2021.

Last update: August 30, 2021

Kuzu is a starch used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Little by little, it has gained fame as a home remedy in some western countries.

The Pueraria lobata or kuzu (also called "kudzu" and "Japanese arrowroot," among other names) It is a plant native to China and other Asian countries such as Japan or Korea. It is sometimes considered invasive as it grows on top of other plants and trees.

Its most common and well-known use is as a traditional remedy for some ailments, either in the form of an infusion or taken as a supplement. In Chinese medicine writings and treatises Appointed to relieve diarrhea, fever, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. But it is also used in the kitchen to thicken sauces or prepare desserts and sweets.

Potential benefits of kuzu

Kuzu is a traditional ancient Chinese medicine remedy.

The Contributions that kuzu has as food are, mainly, carbohydrates, fiber and minerals. In addition, around more than 70 phytochemical compounds are present, among which isoflavones stand out.

Due to its presence and its characteristics, its use can provide some benefits for the body. Likewise, it is possible to use it as a traditional remedy for minor discomforts. The most notable applications are detailed below.

Good for the gut microbiota

Resistant starch is one of the main components of this Asian root. It is a type of carbohydrate that the digestive system of humans cannot digest. When it reaches the colon intact, the intestinal bacteria are responsible for degrading it.

As a result of this fermentation, beneficial compounds for the colon and general health are generated. Some of these are the improvement of insulin sensitivity, energy supply for intestinal cells or an adequate composition of the microbiota.

Relief of some symptoms during menopause

This is another of the uses derived from traditional Chinese medicine due to the presence of various types of phytoestrogens. These compounds have the ability to act similar to estrogens and produce the same effects in the human body.

For this reason, Kudzu root can help improve symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, or vaginal dryness. However, it is necessary to bear in mind that some studies have not been able to verify this specific property.

Liver protector

Some of the isoflavones present in kuzu have antioxidant activity so they can protect cells from oxidative damage. This is responsible for some chronic and degenerative diseases. In a test with mice, this antioxidant activity has helped reduce liver damage caused by alcohol consumption.

May reduce alcohol dependence

Some studies indicate its potential use in people with high alcohol consumption as it would be effective in reducing the intake of this type of drink. These results have been observed in at least two human studies published in the journals Harvard’s Gazette and in Psycopharmacology.

Possible side effects and precautions

Medical consultation is recommended before using kuzu as an adjunct to the treatment of any discomfort.

The use of kuzu root has health benefits, but can sometimes be discouraged. For this reason, it is necessary to take it into account and consult with a health professional if there are doubts about its convenience or the appropriate form of administration.

In any case and as the experts of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, its use is contraindicated in people with hypersensitivity to kudzu and in patients with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.

In the same way, some negative side effects have been reported in several people after ingestion. These include nausea, vomiting, epigastric discomfort, and signs of liver damage.

In addition, due to its estrogenic effects, it can reduce the effectiveness of contraceptive drugs. Given these drug interactions, it is advisable to consult if any type of medical treatment is followed.

Finally, it is necessary to bear in mind that, as a general rule, dietary supplements have not been tested in pregnant, lactating women or young children.

Presentations and ways to drink kuzu

In some countries it is possible to buy fresh kuzu root and it is consumed in a similar way to sweet potatoes. However, the most common is to find it dried in the form of small cubes. It is best to buy it in herbalists or specialized stores.

This is important because not to be confused with arrowroot. This is also a starch but it comes from another plant (Maranta arundinacea) that does not have the same properties as the Pueraria lobata.

To help calculate the quantities needed, it is best to pound the root a bit with the help of a spoon (press the spoon upside down). Once the kuzu is ground, it is prepared by executing the following steps:

  • Take a small cup with a little water, broth or unsweetened fruit juice. Dilute one or two tablespoons of crushed kuzu root.
  • Then boil with a little more water (or the amount indicated in the recipe) for a few minutes until you get a transparent and gelatinous liquid. Stir well so that no lumps form.
  • Thus prepared, you are ready to drink.

If you want to thicken a sauce, some kind of stew or a jam; Pour this kuzú infusion into the used casserole or pot and stir everything together. Generally, one tablespoon of this can be used as a substitute for one tablespoon of cornstarch.

Kuzu: A Traditional Chinese Medicine Remedy To Improve Health

The pueraria lobata It is one of the traditional Asian products that has been expanding in recent years around the world. In general, it is considered safe when taken orally and following the recommendations for use of professionals.

Its use is mainly focused as an adjuvant in the treatment of alcohol addiction, heart disease and diabetes and during the climacteric. However, more research is needed on its health effects, both positive and negative.

For this reason, always expert advice is advisable and refrain if you suffer from illnesses, special situations or if you take medications. Remember that no product alone helps improve health, but must be accompanied by a healthy diet and lifestyle.