If any plant deserves the American title “king of weeds”, it is the kudzu vine (Pueraria lobata). Introduced to the United States from Japan before 1876 to control soil erosion, this member of the pea family (Leguminosae) promised to be an excellent food and fodder plant, but by 1945 it had become an invasive pest, covering a half million acres in the Southeast.
In China and India, however, this and other Pueraria species are valued as diuretics, contraceptives, aphrodisiacs, and treatments for high blood pressure and angina pectoris. Recently, researchers at Jiwaji University in India administered a root extract of the Indian species P. tuberosa to adult male rats exposed to carbon tetrachloride, a chemical known to cause liver toxicity. The extract stabilized the activity of liver enzymes, stimulated regeneration of liver tissue, and made the liver more resistant to damage from carbon tetrachloride toxins.
Steven Foster is an author, photographer and consultant specializing in medicinal plants (www.StevenFoster.com).
Shukla, S., et al. “Protective Action of Butanolic Extract of Pueraria tuberosa DC. against Carbon Tetrachloride-Induced Hepatotoxicity in Adult Rats”. Phytotherapy Research 1996, 10(7):608-609.
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