I first heard the word Kudzu in a small seminar given by a local herbalist. Its funny name caught my attention, which quickly turned to interest, as she discussed how to prepare it as a cold remedy.

Today I want to share how easily you can use Kudzu to support your family through illness.

But first, let’s address the question:

What is Kudzu?

The Kudzu (or Kuzu) plant is a climbing, woody vine which belongs to the pea family (or more technically, the leguminous family). It has broad leaves and clusters of purple flowers.

Native to Japan and China, Kudzu was brought to the United States in the late 1800s. It is considered a great pest in the South, where it can grow up to a foot a day (often called “the plant that swallowed the South” or “the mile-a-minute vine”). If you reside in the southern states, I don’t recommend growing it!

For medicinal purposes, we are most interested in the root of the Kudzu plant.

Kudzu root is well known in Chinese medicine as a digestive aid, fever reducer, and is also thought to inhibit alcohol cravings. Kudzu root powder can be purchased at many health food stores and ordered online through companies such as Mountain Rose Herbs.

Here is a picture of dried Kudzu root ground into powder (it is very white):

How can Kudzu help a cold?

Besides the benefits mentioned above, Kudzu root is also purported to reduce cold symptoms, warm and strengthen the body, boost the immune system, and relive fatigue.

The easiest way to administer Kudzu to children: Kudzu-Apple Juice.

This nutritious combination tastes like apple juice, just slightly thicker. It is especially helpful if children are unable to eat.

Kudzu combined with apple juice provides nutrition and energy. Served warm it gives a little comfort and soothes a sore throat.

Best of all, this remedy is extremely easy to prepare!

Kudzu-Apple Juice (especially for children)

Recipe adapted from Naturally Healthy Babies and Children by Aviva Jill Romm, page 273. Romm states that this beverage can be used as the child’s main nourishment for the day when sick.


1 cup apple juice (or pear juice)

1 teaspoon Kudzu root powder (available from Mountain Rose Herbs)


Mix kudzu root powder with ½ cup of cold apple juice. Stir to dissolve.

In a saucepan, heat the remaining ½ cup of apple juice until barely simmering.

Add the cold apple juice/kudzu mixture to the simmering juice. Stir until boiling. Reduce temperature to low heat and stir for 2 or 3 minutes.

This beverage can be administered as soon as it is cool enough to consume.

Makes 1 cup. Drink 1 to 4 cups daily when a cold is present.

Although the above recipe was designed for children, it can certainly be used by adults (you may wish to increase dosage to 1 ½ teaspoons of root powder per cup).

As an added bonus, kudzu powder is very “starchy” and can be used as a thickener in cooking. Simply mix a little cold liquid to dissolve and use as a substitute for cornstarch or arrowroot. Further recommendations for using kudzu as a thickening agent can be found at Mother Earth News.

Have you ever used Kudzu to fight a cold? If not, does this sound like something you would try?

Please remember I am not a certified herbalist or physician. This post is based on my own research and experience. Please do your own research and always be cautious when trying any new remedy.

Image by Clinton Steeds