Spotlight On: Kudzu Root

Ingredients, Skin Care
Kudzu may be pretty, but it’s considered a noxious weed in the U.S. (Photo credit: My Point and Shoot)

Kudzu is a plant found originally in Japan and China that’s considered a noxious weed in the United States (USDA). Kudzu root is a kind of phytoestrogen, as well as isoflavone, genistein, and daidzen (The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine). It can also serve as an antioxidant (Cosmetics Cop). Studies testing three isoflavone compounds found that they work well as UV-protectors (Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, & Photomedicine).

Can it Make You Stop Drinking?

Structure of Isoflavone
Isoflavone, found in Kudzu, might help people curb drinking. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Generally, kudzu is most talked about because in studies with alcohol-addicted animals, it’s been found that the isoflavones in kudzu limit alcohol intake (PsyOrg). In tests on humans it was found that treatment with kudzu caused a rapid rise in blood pressure that could mean increased effects of alcoholic drinks in the brain, possibly leading to people cutting their drinks off sooner (Science Dailey).

Is it Good for Anti-Aging?

Wrinkles and greys
Phytoestrogens work like estrogens and have an anti-wrinkle effect on post-menopausal women. (Photo credit: spykster)

But it’s the phytoestrogens in kudzu that have shown benefits for anti-aging. Tests on mice and rats involving the isoflavones in soyabeans found that topical application improved the amount of tropocollagen, which indicates increased collagen production (Antiaging: Physiology to Formation). It also shrank pores (which had been enlarged with androgen supplements) and led to a decrease in hair growth because it extended the telogen — or rest — period for hair growth and limited hair regeneration.

Estrogens, when used by a dermatologist knowledgeable in endocrinology, have been shown to be safe and effective to prevent aging in women in other tests (Verdier-Sevrain). But there haven’t been as many tests on phytoestrogens — which mimic estrogen’s effects. In one test on women, phytoestrogens were found to reduce menopause-related aging (Aktuelle Dermatologie).

[Read More: How Do Hormones Affect Skin Acne and Aging?]

There’s a ‘But’…

There isn’t enough research on phytoestrogens to demonstrate that they’re safe (Experimental Dermatology). While they may have beneficial effects for users in terms of wrinkles, there’s no real data on what the side effects of usage are. So, for right now, we’ll be waiting for more research to see what the final verdict is on phytoestrogens like kudzu in skincare.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot of promise surround kudzu. Aside from it’s potential to curb drinking, it’s phytoestrogens may help women as something with anti-aging properties. However, there isn’t a lot of research on the effects, so with more studies, we’ll discover exactly how well they work and how safe they are.

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  • Anna

    Interesting! Can this be the next herbal ingredient to become as popular as Acai berries? I’m curious about its health benefits and hope that more studies are done to ascertain its effectiveness.

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