Kudzu for Hangovers: Helps Sober Up & Relieve Hangovers?

Can people use kudzu for hangovers? Does it help people sober up?


Kudzu is a vine that flourishes in many states. It’s very common in eastern and southeastern parts of the US. The government promoted it this Asian plant for animal fodder and erosion control.

kudzu for hangovers
“Kudzu” in Chinese.

Chinese medicine has used the plant for over 2,500 years. During a trip to China, chemist Dr. David Lee noticed that many people use a herbal tea from kudzu. Its name in Chinese, loosely translated, means “drunkenness dispeller.” The tea is often used to sober up after drinking alcohol and to relieve hangovers.

The Evidence

Dr. Lee and scientists in China began testing a compound from kudz with lab rats that had been given alcohol. They found that it made them act less drunk.1

The next year Dr. Lee suggested to researchers at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies that they test kudzu. He wanted to see if it would reduce alcohol consumption among strains of rats. That is, rats bred to crave alcohol.

As a result, the researchers gave compounds from kudzu root (daidzin and daidzein) to the special lab rats. The scientists found that the compounds reduced the rats’ alcohol intake.2

kudzu for hangoversThese very promising results have led to research involving humans. Taking a kudzu root extract twice daily failed to produce any differences in craving and sobriety scores. The subjects were veterans taking the extract and those taking a placebo.3

But a researcher made a small clinical study of 14 men and women who were heavy drinkers. He found that kudzu reduced the amount of alcohol they drank. Upon finding this, he speculated that kudzu increases blood alcohol concentration. So people need less alcohol to feel its effects.4

The evidence regarding kudzu’s effectiveness is mixed. Clearly, much more research needs to be done.

Buyer Beware

In the meantime it’s a case of buyer beware. Researchers at McLean Hospital bought a variety of kudzu extracts from stores and Internet sites. They tested them and found that none reduced craving for alcohol.

kudzu for hangoverAnalyses revealed that all of the products contained less than one percent of active kudzu. To have any effect a product would need to be at least 30-40% kudzu. Also, it would have to be taken at least twice a day.5

There are no studies to show that kudzu can serve as a morning-after potion for reducing hangovers.

The best way to prevent hangovers is to drink in moderation or abstain. Also, drinking clear spirits such as vodka or gin reduces hangovers. That is, other things being equal.

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1. Spivey, A. Sobering effects from the lowly kudzu. Endeavor Mag.

2. Ibid.

3. Shebek, J., & Rindone, J. A pilot study of the effect of kudzu root on the drinking habits of patients with chronic alcoholism. J Alt Comp Med, 6(1), 45-48.

4. Scott, E., et al. An extract of the Chinese herbal root kudzu reduces alcohol drinking by heavy drinkers. Add Clin Exper Res, 29(5), 756-762.

5. Cromie, W. Kudzu cuts alcohol consumption. Harvard U Gaz, May 27, 2005.

Note: Kudzu for Hangovers?

Please see your doctor for advice on kudzu for hangers. This site gives no advice.