Puerarin - Good for hearts and hangovers

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a fast-growing and incredibly resilient invasive climbing vine that was introduced to North America from its native habitat in East Asia. This plant is an intense sonofabitch, being capable of growing at a rate of up to 30 centimetres (inches) per day. It has been known to smother forests with its growth, and is taking over the American south as we speak. The purple flowers of the plant are used to make a scrumptious jelly, and the leaves and roots can be eaten.

Kudzu produces a number of isoflavones, organic compounds with rings and stuff that are typically strong antioxidants (may reduce tissue damage by free radicals, which are produced as a part of normal metabolic activity) and capable of mimicking the effects of estrogen in mammals (phytoestrogens).

Puerarin is the most concentrated isoflavone found in kudzu. This makes it the major active ingredient in Ge-gen, a traditional Chinese medicine made from kudzu root. Ge-gen is used traditionally to treat fever, pain, diabetes, measles, diarrhea, and cardiovascular diseases including coronary artery disease, arrhythmia and hypertension. It also has been employed as a means of relieving drunkenness and hangover after a long night on the town.

Interestingly, puerarin is capable of selectively suppressing alcohol intake in animal models of excessive drinking (rats and monkeys), suggesting that it may have application as a drug therapy for alcoholism (anticraving agent). It is thought to reduce alcohol absorption by inhibiting the movement of alcohol across gut membranes, thus reducing blood alcohol levels.

- Rezvani AH, Overstreet DH, Perfumi M, Massi M. Plant derivatives in the treatment of alcohol dependency. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):593-606.
- Zhang SY, Chen G, Wei PF, Huang XS, Dai Y, Shen YJ, Chen SL, Sun-Chi CA, Xu HX. The effect of puerarin on serum nitric oxide concentration and myocardial eNOS expression in rats with myocardial infarction. J Asian Nat Prod Res. 2008 Apr;10(4):323-8.

3 chemically inspired comments:

ElwoodCity, Ph.D. said...

That totally looks like an Estrogen Receptor Antagonist. No studies on that?

Chris said...

This article suggests that it may be a partial agonist of the estrogen receptor.

Anonymous said...

well puerarin is an isoflavone which means its a phytoestrogen, prolly similar shape so it might be a competitive inhibitor