-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Taking kudzu root extract
to curb drinking leads to an increase in blood ethanol levels,
which might lessen the desire for more alcohol, researchers
In China, kudzu root extract has long been used to reduce, but
not stop, alcohol consumption and dependence, but the mechanism of
action has been a mystery.
Examining this ancient remedy, scientists from Harvard Medical
School and Brown University assigned 12 male and female volunteers
to take kudzu or a placebo for nine days and then consume various
quantities of alcohol so that the researchers could evaluate
Pre-treatment with kudzu had little to no effect on the
participants' behavioral, physical or cognitive abilities, but it
did cause an increase in heart rate, skin temperature and blood
alcohol levels, the researchers found.
Based on these findings, the scientists suggest that an increase
in blood alcohol levels could translate into increased effects from
the first alcoholic drink and delay a person's desire to drink
The study appears online and in the April print issue of the
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
"The fact that participants experienced a rapid rise in blood alcohol levels when pre-treated with kudzu has no apparent explanation and therefore requires additional research," senior author David M. Penetar, an assistant professor of psychology in the psychiatry department at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., said in a journal news release.
They plan to use MRI scans to determine if kudzu alters blood
flow in the brain.
The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
tips for cutting down on drinking.
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