Kudzu root extract suppresses voluntary alcohol intake and alcohol withdrawal symptoms in P rats receiving free access to water and alcohol

J Med Food. 2004 Summer;7(2):168-79. doi: 10.1089/1096620041224210.


Alcohol-preferring (P) rats, given free choice to drink water or 15% alcohol, drank 7-10 g of alcohol/kg/day, giving blood alcohol values ranging from 16 to 24 mg/dL. Body weight and food and total fluid intake values in control and alcohol-drinking P rats did not differ significantly, while water intake was inversely related to the amount of alcohol consumed. Alcohol withdrawal after 50 days of alcohol drinking caused withdrawal symptoms such as hypersensitivity, poor landing coordination, and tremors. A daily 0.5, 0.75, and 1.0 g/kg dose of kudzu root (KdR) did not affect body weight and food and water intake values in control (no alcohol) P rats. Subchronic feeding of relatively higher KdR doses (0.75 and 1.0 g/kg) caused a 25-30% reduction in weight gain. The 0.5 g/kg KdR dose caused a 50-60% reduction in alcohol consumption, abolished the development of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, but did not affect blood alcohol levels. The higher KdR doses did not further reduce alcohol consumption. Alcohol suppressed the weight-reducing effects of KdR. The KdR extract used in this study contained 150 mg/g of puerarin, 13 mg/g of daidzin, 4 mg/g of daidzein, 3 mg/g of genistin, 0.2 mg/g of genistein, and 1 mg/g of glycetin. Blood and liver samples contained mostly puerarin and a trace amount of daidzein that may have been formed by the hydrolysis of daidzin by liver enzymes. An important observation was that brain samples obtained from KdR-fed or alcohol + KdR-fed rats did not contain any of the KdR isoflavones. Thus, KdR isoflavones suppressed alcohol drinking and withdrawal symptoms without entering the brain.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Animals
  • Anxiety
  • Body Weight
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Drinking*
  • Eating
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Female
  • Isoflavones / analysis
  • Isoflavones / blood
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry*
  • Pueraria / chemistry*
  • Rats
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / prevention & control*


  • Isoflavones
  • Plant Extracts
  • Ethanol