Herbal extract kudzu to down fewer drinks

Heavy drinkers who tried the herbal extract kudzu for one week downed fewer drinks than people who received an inactive &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/10/07/37824.html ' target=_blank>placebo treatment, according to new study findings released Monday.

Study author Dr. Scott E. Lukas of McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical Center in Massachusetts explained that during the experiment, people drank their first beer right away, but were less likely to want more beer if they had taken kudzu the previous week.

Kudzu is one of the ingredients of the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2002/04/16/27645.html ' target=_blank>Chinese herbal medicine XJL, otherwise known as NPI-028, used for hundreds of years in China to treat inebriation.

Kudzu contains isoflavones, antioxidants believed to confer a variety of health benefits. Previous research has shown that kudzu extracts help discourage drinking in rats and hamsters.

However, a 2000 study of veterans struggling with alcoholism found that kudzu had no effect on drinking patterns or cravings for alcohol, tells Reuters.

Earlier kudzu studies have shown reduced consumption among alcohol-swilling monkeys, rats and hamsters. And while Lukas' study is small and preliminary, it is the first to conclude what the Chinese have maintained for centuries: that compounds in the ancient vine, known as ge-gen, can help problem drinkers - human ones - imbibe less.

Researchers aren't sure how it works, but Lukas suspects that active ingredients called isoflavones in the kudzu root increase blood flow, which helps alcohol get to the brain faster. This means drinkers "are getting cues that say, `I'm feeling good, I'm OK, no need to suck down this entire beer,'" he said.

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