Kudzu is a coarse, high-climbing, twining, trailing, perennial vine. The huge root, which can grow to the size of a human, is the source of medicinal preparations used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and modern herbal products. Kudzu grows in most shaded areas in mountains, fields, along roadsides, thickets, and thin forests throughout most of China and the southeastern United States. The root of another Asian species of kudzu, Pueraria thomsonii, is also used for herbal products.
Kudzu root has been known for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine as ge-gen. The first written mention of the plant as a medicine is in the ancient herbal text of Shen Nong (circa A.D. 100). In Traditional Chinese Medicine, kudzu root is used in prescriptions for the treatment of wei, or ��superficial,�� syndrome (a disease that manifests just under the surface��mild, but with fever), thirst, headache, and stiff neck with pain due to high blood pressure.1 It is also recommended for allergies, migraine headaches, and diarrhea. The historical application for drunkenness has become a major focal point of modern research on kudzu. It is also used in modern Chinese medicine as a treatment for angina pectoris.