A new natural health resource in the fight against alcoholism has been found in a synthetic derivative of Kudzu vine which may help treat the addiction and prevent a relapse.
Some 14 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and the costs of alcohol dependence and abuse equaled $220 billion in 2005, according to TreatmentCenters.net, an addiction treatment resource organization.
Daidzin is a substance found in Kudzu vine, and scientists from the University of California at San Francisco found that it inhibits human aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH-2), which metabolizes alcohol into acetaldehyde.
The accumulation of acetaldehyde, in turn, produces aversive effects and may turn people away from drinking.
Ting-Kai Li, a professor in the department of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center and former director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, says extracts of Kudzu vine have been used in Chinese herbal medicine formulas for thousands of years and are believed to be helpful in treating alcoholism and intoxication.
"Recent research has found that several compounds of the isoflavone family – puerarin, daidzin, daidzein – in the Kudzu extract decrease alcohol intake in experimental animals," he stresses.
The value of the treatment is further enhanced by the fact that it appears to be non-toxic, the scientists say.