dr janette engelbrecht

Dr. Janette Engelbrecht

Acupuncturist & Herbalist

Herb/plant spotlight: Kudzu Root/Pueraia/Ge Gen

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As many of us know, kudzu grows rampant around these parts in WNC. Kudzu is actually native to Japan and southeast China. It was first introduced to the United States during the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 where it was touted as a great ornamental plant for its sweet-smelling blooms and sturdy vines. From the 1930s through the 1950s, the Soil Conservation Service promoted it as a great tool for soil erosion control and it was planted in abundance throughout the south. Unfortunately, it was not well known that kudzu grows out of control quickly, spreading through runners (stems that root at the tip when in contact with moist soil), rhizomes and by vines that root at the nodes to form new plants. Once established, kudzu grows at a rate of one foot per day with mature vines as long as 100 feet! Kudzu gives a sort-of Dr. Suess-y vibe to the things that it envelops- like telephone polls, trees, and other structures.  It is quite awesome to see it explode in the summer. 

While you may know how beautiful and invasive to this area kudzu is, what you may not know is that it is a widely used TCM medicinal.  Kudzu root is in the release-exterior category and helps to cool things down when they get too hot & out of balance. Kudzu root is used for things such as fever, headache, and stiff or tight upper back and neck; heat diarrhea, dysentery and thirst; to help hasten the recovery from measles; and headache, dizziness, tinnitus, or paresthesias due to accompanying hypertension. It functions to release exterior conditions and relax the muscles, nourish fluids and stop thirst, raise the yang and stop diarrhea, vent rashes, and lower blood pressure. Kudzu root is also used as a “hangover cure.”  If you have any questions regarding kudzu root, make sure to ask one of our practitioners the next time you stop by!

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