Indian kudzu (Pueraria tuberosa) is a tuber with benefits for your brain, mood, and immune system. Puerarin and daidzein in it protect nerve cells in certain parts of the brain from damage, while flavonoids help produce a relaxing and calming effect by engaging GABA A receptors. The herb also enhances the efficiency of immune agents like macrophages, T cells, natural killer cells, and specific antibodies but without allowing the resulting inflammation to become rampant.
Looking out for your overall well-being, Indian kudzu (also known as vidari) brings balance to both your body and your mind. Its rock-like root tubers have chemicals to help do just that. They mostly include pigment compounds called flavonoids and their derivatives.
If you venture to do some of your own research on Indian kudzu, you’ll repeatedly come across puerarin, daidzein, and genistein. These three compounds somehow form a team and bring about most of Indian kudzu’s benefits.
Why It’s So Great
1. Protects the Brain
The brain is a marvel of an organ – capable of so much, yet requiring that much more protection. While the skull does a lot of the hard work, other brain chemicals too can squeeze their way in through the blood-brain barrier and maintain peace from the inside. Most of these chemicals are generated in your body itself, but some can also come from the foods and herbs you eat.
Indian kudzu’s famous trio – puerarin, genistein, and daidzein – qualify as such chemicals as they make their rounds to help protect your brain cells.
- Puerarin protects cerebral cortical neurons from chemical threats looming in the area. The cerebral cortex is the most developed part of the brain, also the biggest part, that influences your intelligence, personality, senses, language capabilities, memory, and focus.
- Daidzein protects the part of the brain responsible for memory from nerve-attacking toxins.
Puerarin also exerts some control at the blood-brain barrier, where the walls of blood vessels meet the walls of brain cells.
2. Supports Mental Well-being
It’s not easy being on top of your game all the time. There will be moments you feel overwhelmed. Moments like these call for something to help your body get back in the game – like Indian kudzu. Here’s how the herb helps.
- Brings a calm: Indian kudzu makes it to the list of adaptogens – herbs that help you cope with stress – because it literally calms your nerves.
When you meditate or are about to fall asleep, GABA A, a nerve chemical, sits on tailor-made seats called GABA A receptors. This “silences” your nerves and calms you down. Coincidentally, Indian kudzu’s flavonoids can sit on GABA A receptors as well, bringing about a similar effect.
- Normalizes stress-related chemicals: The thing about stress is that it shifts from a heavily mental phenomenon to a more physical one as it builds up. A number of hormones (corticosteroids) and brain chemicals (monoamines) are called to action and increased to high levels in the bargain – like norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.
Indian kudzu can gradually restore some balance in this chemical chaos. It can also help protect your stomach during stress times as the brain and stomach are intimately connected.
3. Balances the Immune System
Immunity is a complex dance between different cells of the immune system – the front-liners (macrophages), the cavalry (T cells), and the archers (B cells). Your body could always do with a little help in employing these immune agents in the right way so that they are good enough to mitigate the threat but not cause your body any harm.
It so happens that Indian kudzu’s flavonoids make contact with all three wings, increasing your resistance to illness in the long run. In scientific parlance, we can say that Indian kudzu:
- Improves macrophage phagocytic activity, which means it makes macrophages more proactive in “eating” disease-causing agents (like bacteria)
- Increases the activities of cytotoxic T cells and NK cells, which are particularly useful in controlling viral infections
- Increases IgG and IgA antibodies, which are like customized bullets created by B cells and directed at disease-causing agents
But most importantly, it knows when to draw the line. The immune system uses inflammation (pain, redness, fever, swelling) to contain infections and injury. However, when prolonged, it may start harming the body’s own cells.
- Even though Indian kudzu strengthens your immunity, it understands when to apply the brakes and keep inflammation in check. Its flavonoids suppress various players in the inflammatory circuit. These include NF-kB, TNFα, IL-1b, IL-6, and COX-2.
Though Indian kudzu tubers can be eaten as vegetables, it is quite difficult to get your hands on them. It is more convenient to get hold of the tuber powder instead. Regularly have about 3–5 gm of this powder (half to a full teaspoon) mixed with milk.