Healing with Kuzu Root
I hesitate to disclose this kind of information about myself, but every once in a while my stomach gets a wee bit touchy and results in what I would literally consider gut retching pain. Although I have been fairly successful in eliminating this pain through dietary modification, I have not been able to completely rid myself of these gastrointestinal hiccups. However, I have been fortunate enough to learn a fast and effective herbal remedy that does not require the use of over-the-counter medications. Kuzu, used in Eastern cultures as an herbal remedy to digestive and circulatory ailments, has been able to provide me fast and effective stomach relief and is now also being researched as an effective way reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, treat migraines and even to help eliminate alcohol abuse. I won’t hesitate in saying that this just might be nature’s true wonder root!
Kuzu’s Ancient Wisdom
Kuzu root, or Kudzu in America, is a member of the legume family (think beans, lentils and peas) and has been used medicinally in China and Japan for close to 2,000 years. It is believed that by consuming kuzu’s complex starches, we can effectively relieve the discomfort caused by over-acidity, bacterial infection and excess water (diarrhea) without resorting to over-the-counter stomach medications. Kuzu root’s high concentration of flavonoids (potent antioxidants) aid digestion and the circulatory system by inhibiting the contraction of smooth muscle tissue, thereby increasing blood flow to relieve stomach cramping. Kuzu root has enjoyed an excellent reputation for good reason as it is widely accepted as an herbal remedy to a number of digestive issues that maintains an excellent safety record.
Kuzu root, or its extracted flavonoid puerarin, are often used medicinally to reduce high blood pressure, regulate blood sugar, relieve chronic migraines and ease muscular tension 1. A few studies have even found that the consumption of flavonoids such as puerarin reduce the risk of cardiovascular, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Although these results are encouraging for proponents of herbal remedies, it is commonly agreed that further research is needed to determine if these benefits were the result of flavonoid themselves or if they could be attributed to the other nutrients or phytochemicals found in flavonoid rich foods 2. Recently, kuzu has been getting a lot of press around its apparent ability to help treat chronic alcoholism. According to the journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Puerarin (the primary flavonoid found in Kuzu) can marginally reduce the consumption of alcohol in individuals whom regularly participate in binge drinking 3. While the reduced consumption was by no means overwhelming proof in kuzu’s ability to curb binge drinking, a modest improvement is improvement none-the-less.
At home, kuzu root is often used as a remedy to non-life threatening ailments in either of two ways: as powdered starch or as whole dried root. Kuzu starch (pictured at left) is commonly used to treat minor indigestion and the symptoms often associated with a common cold. Kuzu starch is also often used as a remedy for constipation, to stimulate appetite and to calm hyperactive children or minds. Kuzu root is traditionally used in herbal teas and has the added benefit of containing more water-soluble flavonoids that are often lost during starch production. Most widely available as Kuzu root tea (kakkon), this herbal remedy frequently contains a variety of other herbs (typically ginger, licorice and cinnamon) that can be combined to combat a variety of ailments. My favorite kuzu remedy is the Kuza Apple Tummy Elixir provided below, which helps relieve the gastrointestinal pressure that I shared with you about a little earlier. Also, although I don’t typically consider myself a hyperactive child, this drink is great at calming my nerves after particularly stressful days. There are a couple of different ways to utilize this wonder root and I would recommend reading further about its healing power in Japanese Foods that Heal by John and Jan Belleme.
Ancient herbal remedies such as kuzu are a powerful, all natural source of healing that have proven extremely valuable in treating a wide variety of common ailments and are now gaining widespread acceptance in the treatment and prevention of more serious health conditions. By integrating remedies that have been utilized for centuries, even thousands of years in kuzu’s case, we can organically improve our health and wellness while avoiding modern pharmaceuticals and the potentially harmful side effects that they may cause. All this while enjoying an outstanding safety record are proof enough for me that ancient herbel remedies can be considered a valuable source of relief in our pursuit of total health and wellness.
Now, what ya’ll have been waiting for! Here is the recipe for the wonderful elixir that has eliminated my stomach issues and effectively changed the way I enjoy life!
Kuzu Apple Tummy Elixir (shown above)
- ½ cup apple juice
- ½ cup water
- 1 rounded tsp kuzu starch, dissolved in 2 Tbsp water
- Warm apple juice and water on the stove over low heat.
- When juice mixture is warm (do not bring to boil) add dissolved kuzu.
- Stir constantly until kuzu thickens and becomes translucent. Approximately 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat, let cool and enjoy
If you’re interested in learning more about kuzu or other Eastern foods that heal, check out Japanese Foods that Heal by John and Jan Bellame. It is a great resource and was very helpful in the writing of this post.!