Kudzu (or kuzu) is a weed that grows wild in the Southeastern United States, and is used in that region to make soaps, lotions and compost.
Kudzu also grows wild in East Asia and there is a long culinary tradition utilizing kudzu in this part of the world. In East Asia, kudzu is considered a traditional food ingredient and is used to make teas, jellies, desserts and healing tonics.
According to Wikipedia:
The Harvard Medical School is studying kudzu as a possible way to treat alcoholic cravings, by turning an extracted compound from the herb into a medical drug. The mechanism for this is not yet established, but it may have to do with both alcohol metabolism and the reward circuits in the brain.
Kudzu also contains a number of useful isoflavones, including daidzein (an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent). Daidzin is a cancerpreventive and is structurally related to genistein (an antileukemic agent). Kudzu is a unique source of the isoflavone puerarin. Kudzu root compounds can affect neurotransmitters(including serotonin, GABA, and glutamate.) It has shown value in treating migraine and cluster headaches. It is recommended for allergies and diarrhea.
Kudzu has traditionally been used as a remedy for alcoholism and hangover in China. The root was used to prevent excessive consumption, while the flower was supposed to detoxify the liver and alleviate the symptoms afterwards. Some TCM hangover remedies are marketed with kudzu as one of their active ingredients (e.g. Hangover Busters.) This has also been a common use in areas of the Southeastern United States.
I was first introduced to the amazing properties of kudzu root during my Ayurvedic training 2 decades ago. When my husband arrives home from a long trip overseas the first thing he asks me to make him is a bowl of my special blueberry kudzu.
I use kudzu in recipes such as Gravy and Macaroni and Cheese.
You can find more information about Kudzu on Wikipedia. Purchase kudzu from Amazon.com.