Family • Leguminosae / Fabaceae - Pueraria thunbergiana (S. & Z.) Benth. - KUDZU - Ge gen

Scientific names

Pueraria thunbergiana (S. & Z.) Benth.
Pueraria lobata (Willd.) Ohwi
Pueraria montana (Lour.) Merr. var. lobata
Pueraria hirsuta (Thunb.) Schneider
San ye ge (Chin.)

Common names

Baai (Ig.)
Tahaunon (Mbo.)
Ke hemp (Engl.)
Kudzu (Engl.)
Kudzu vine (Engl.)
Mile-a-minute vine (Engl.)
Japanese arrowroot (Eng.)
Ge gen (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Gan shu teng, Ge teng, Ye ge.


Baai is a rather coarse, climbing, hairy, annual, herbaceous vine reaching a height of 8 meters. Leaflets are entire or slightly repand, ovate, 10 to 20 centimeters long, the upper surface smooth or nearly so, the lower surface densely covered with soft, grayish hairs. Flowers are about 2 centimeters long, borne on axillary racemes, 15 to 30 centimeters long. Calyx is hairy. Corolla is bright purple, 2 centimeters wide, with a large yellow spot at the base. Pods are 5 to 8 centimeters long, about 1 centimeterwide, covered with spreading brown hairs.


– Open grasslands and thickets, at low and medium altitudes, and in Benguet it ascends to 2,000 meters.
– Found in Batan, Benguet, Quezon and the Rizal Provinces in Luzon; in Biliran; Banton; Negros and Mindanao.
– Also found in India to Japan southward to Malaya.

• Active constituents include daidzin, daidzein, puerarin, genistin, genistein, tectorigenin, glycitin, tectoridin, 6″-O-xylosyltectoridin, 6″-O-xyloglycitin, biochanin A, and spinasterol.
• Leaves contain glutamic acid, adenine, asparagin, butyric acid.
• Roots have yielded more than 25 isoflavonoids and flavonoids, including daidzein, daidzin, and puerarin.
• Other isofavones isolated are kakkalide, tectoridin and tectorigenin.
• Flowers yielded six isoflavonoids, tectorigenin, glycitein, tectoridin, glycitin, 6″-O-xylosyltectoridin, and 6″-O-xylosylglycitin.

• Considered antidote, antiemetic, antipyretic, antispasmodic, antivinous, demulcent, depurative, galactagogue, hypolgycemic, hypotensive, styptic.
• Root considered antifebrile, antiemetic and antidote.

Parts utilized
Roots, seeds, flowers, leaves.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

Kudzu / Wikipedia

Kudzu / PLANT OF THE WEEK / Dr. T. Ombrello – UCC Biology Department

Pueraria montana lobata – (Willd.)Maesen.&S.M.Almeida./ Plants For A Future

Pueraria thunbergiana inhibits cisplatin-induced damage of HEI-OC1 auditory cells through scavenging free radicals / Yu JJ, Jung S Y et al / Phytother Res. 2009 Dec 2.

Effect of Kaikasaponin III Obtained from Pueraria thunbergiana Flowers on Serum and Hepatic Lipid Peroxides and Tissue Factor Activity in the Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rat / Jongwon Choi, Myung-Hee Shin et al / Journal of Medicinal Food. April 2004, 7(1): 31-37. doi:10.1089/109662004322984671.

Structure-Activity Relationships of Components from the Roots of Pueraria thunbergiana Having Aldose Reductase Inhibitory and Antioxidative Activity / Chang-Hun Park et al / Bull. Korean Chem. Soc. 2007, Vol. 28, No. 3 / 493

Comparison of Pueraria lobata with hormone replacement therapy in treating the adverse health consequences of menopause / Woo J, Lau E, Ho S C et al / Menopause. 2003 Jul-Aug;10(4):352-61.

(8) Kudzu root extract suppresses voluntary alcohol intake and alcohol withdrawal symptoms in P rats receiving free access to water and alcohol / Benlhabib E, Baker JI, Keyler DE, Singh AK / J Med Food. 2004 Summer;7(2):168-79.

An extract of the Chinese herbal root kudzu reduces alcohol drinking by heavy drinkers in a naturalistic setting / Lukas SE, Penetar D, Berko J, Vicens L et al / Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2005 May;29(5):756-62.

(10) Kudzu / Pueraria lobata / Sigma Aldrich

Effect of puerarin on fibrinolytic activity and lipid peroxide in patients with coronary heart disease. / Chen J, Xu J, Li J. / Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1999 Nov;19(11):649-50.

(12) Cardiovascular Protective Effects of Adjunctive Alternative Medicine (Salvia miltiorrhiza and Pueraria lobata) in High-Risk Hypertension / K. S. Woo, Thomas W. C. Yip, Ping Chook, S. K. Kwong, C. C. Szeto, June K. Y. Li, Alex W. Y. Yu, William K. F. Cheng, Thomas Y. K. Chan, K. P. Fung, and P. C. Leung / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2013 (2013) /

(13) Antioxidant Actifity and Isoflavonoid Components in Different Sections of Pueraria lobata Root / TONG-RONG CHEN, SHU-CHENG SHIH, HSIEH-PING PING AND QUE-KING WEI* / Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, Vol. 20, No. 3, 2012, Pages 681-685 doi:10.6227/jfda.2012200316

Quantitative Analysis of Two Isoflavones in Pueraria Lobata Flowers from Eleven Chinese Provinces Using High Performance Liquid Chromatography / Law, Francis, Yao, Meicun, Liao, Yiting / Chinese Medicine 2010, 5:14

• Roots, flowers, leaves.
• Equal to alfalfa in nutritive value.
• Flour made from roots used in soups.
• Root of the plant is both food and medicine; however, above ground part is considered emetic.
• Root prescribed for fevers, colds, influenza, dysentery, snake bites.
• Use to counteract the effects of croton oil and other poisonous drugs.
• Externally applied to dog bites.
• Seeds used for dysentery and alcoholic excess.
• Flowers also used for alcohol excess.
• Leaves used on wounds as styptic.
• Shoots used to stimulate secretion of milk; applied to incipient boils and aphthous stomatitis in children.
• Every part of the plant used for skin rashes.
• Flowers used as diaphoretic and febrifuge.
• In Chinese traditional medicine, used to treat tinnitus, vertigo, deafness, diabetes; used as a remedy for alcoholism and hangover; flowers used to detoxify the liver. Also used as diaphoretic and febrifuge. Root decoction used for colds, dysentery, and fever.
• Animal studies have shown daidzin and daidzein to diminish the craving for alcohol. Chinese Pharmacopoeia suggests 9-15 grams of kudzu root daily. However, results of use and supplementation in humans have shown conflicting results.

• Feed: Kudzu is primarily grown for pasture, hay, and silage; palatable to all types of livestock.
• Flour: In China and Japan, Ko-fen flour is obtained from tuberous roots
• In the U.S. kudzu is used to make soaps, lotions, jelly and compost.
• Fiber: Fiber obtained from the stems; studied for potential use as wallpaper, clothing and paper.Cultivated in China and Japan for its textile fiber and root.
• Used for erosion control and soil improvement on banks.

Study Findings

• Inhibition of Cisplatin-Induced Damage / Free Radical Scavenging: Study showed the radix of Pueraria thunbergiana prevented cisplatin-induced HEI-OC1 cell damage through inhibition of lipid peroxidation and scavenging activities of free radicals.
• KS-III (Kaikasaponin III) / Hypoglycemic / Hypolipidemic: Study investigated the immunosuppressive effect of kaikasaponin III (KD-III)saponin in the diabetic rat. KS-III prolonged bleeding time and plasma clotting time in STZ-treated mice and increased TF (tissue factor) activity. Results showed its hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects may be due to up-regulating or down-regulating antioxidant mechanisms via changes in enzyme activities.
• Antioxidant / Aldose-Reductase Inhibition: Study showed antioxidant and aldose reductase inhibitory activities.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Antinociceptive: Study of the combine extracts from three Chinese herbal medicines – Kalopanax pictus, Pueraria thunbergiana and Rhus verniciflua – used for diabetes mellitus in Korea were investigated for antiinflammatory effects. Results showed inhibition of NO production, decreased PGE2 and TNF-a release, dose-dependent analgesic activities in varying degrees among the different extracts.
• Tectorigenin / Cytotoxicity / Leukemia: Studyisolated six isoflavonoids. Among these isoflavonoids, tectorigenin and genistein exhibited cytotoxicity against various human cancer cells. Tectorigenin induced differentiation of human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells and caused apoptotic changes of DNA in the cells. Results suggest a potential for tectorigenin as a therapeutic agent for leukemia.
• Cognitive Effects: In a study comparing HRT and Pueraria lobata, the results did not demonstrate scientific basis for use of PL for postmenopausal health in general. However, cognitive improvements were noted. Both showed improvement in Mini-Mental State Exam and attention span. Also, HRT improved delayed recall, while PL improved flexible thinking.
• Suppression of Alcohol Intake and Withdrawal: In a study of Kudzu root in alcohol-preferring rats showed a 50-60% reduction in alcohol consumption and abolishment of withdrawal symptoms.
• Alcohol Intake Reduction / Beer Drinkers: In a study of male and female “heavy” alcohol drinkers, kudzu treatment resulted in significant reduction in the number of beers consumed, with decrease volume of each sip, and increase in the number of sips. Results suggest the plant may be a useful adjunct in reducing alcohol intake in a naturalistic setting.
• Tectorigenin / Anaphylaxis Inhibition / Anti-Allergic Drug: Tectoridin from the flowers of P. thunbergiana is metabolized by human intestinal microflora into tectorigenin. Study in rats showed the main metabolite tectorigenin potently inhibited the passive cutaneous anaphylaxis reaction and inhibited in vitro release of IgE-induced beta-hexosaminidase from RBL-2H3 cells. Results suggest tectoridin is a prodrug, and presents as a candidate for an antiallergic drug.
• Anti-Thrombotic Effects / Puerarin: Animal and clinical studies have shown antithrombotic effects, possibly through an inhibition of platelet aggregation and blood viscosity. Puerarin can increase superoxide dismutase activity, decrease lipoprotein level and enhance fibrinolytic activity.
• Neurologic Effects: Kudzu may be protective to the neurons. Daidzin has been shown to inhibit serotonin and dopamine metabolism. Puerarin has shown an improvement effect against memory impairment in an aging-mice model induced by D-galactose.
• Estrogenic Effects: Isoflavone constituents have shown both estrogenic and antiestrogenic activity.
• Hypoglycemic Effects / Puerarin: Animal studies have suggested hypoglycemic effects. Puerarin lowers plasma glucose via increase in glucose utilization. It also activates alpha1-adredoreceptors in the adrenal glands to enhance secretion of beta-endorphins to decrease blood glucose.
• Antiosteoporotic Effects: In animal studies, Pueraria lobata has exhibited increase in bone mineral density. Puerarin also suppressed bone resorption and promotes bone formation.
• Puerarin / Fibrinolytic Activity / Coronary Heart Disease: Study evaluated the effect of puerarin on superoxide dismutase (SOD), lipid peroxidation (LPO), tissue plasminogen (TPA) and plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1) of coronary heart disease (CHD) patients. Results showed puerarin can increase SOD activity, decrease LPO level and enhance fibrinolytic activity.
• Cardioprotective: Study evaluated the benefits of D&G–Danshen (dried root and rhizome of perennial herb Salvia miltiorrhiza) and Gegen (dried roots of Pueraria lobata) as adjunctive therapy on atherogenesis in high-risk hypertensive individuals. Results showed D&G to be well tolerated and significantly improved atherogenesis in high-risk hypertensive patients, with a potential in primary atherosclerosis prevention.
• Antioxidant / Isoflavonoids / Roots: Study evaluated the isoflavonoid content and antioxidant activity of P. lobata roots, including the root outer bark and whole root. The root outer bark yielded higher isoflavonoids cont3nt that whole root or kudzu root. The antioxidant potential of the root outer bark by total phenolic content, DPPH, ABTS and reducing power were also higher. The main isoflavonoids were puerarin, daidzin, genistin and genistein. Puerarin in the root outer bark showed the greatest antioxidant activity in P. lobata roots.
• Isoflavones / Flowers / Quantitative Analysis: Quantitative study on two major isoflavones in flowers of P. lobata, tectoridin and 6″-O-xylosyltectoridin showed the flowers from northern China to yield more isoflavones than those from southern China.

Root extracts in the cybermarket.