May 17, 2005
Kudzu: It's (potentially) good for something

One person's weed is another person's binge-drinking-curber.

Kudzu, an ever-expanding vine considered a pest in much of the South, appears to contain a compound that can be effective in reducing alcohol intake among humans.

Researcher Scott Lukas did not have any trouble rounding up volunteers for his study, published in this month's issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Lukas' team at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital set up a makeshift "apartment" in a laboratory, complete with a television, reclining chair and a refrigerator stocked with beer.

Findings show that subjects who took kudzu drank an average of 1.8 beers per session, compared with the 3.5 beers consumed by those who took a placebo.

Lukas was not certain why but speculated that kudzu increases blood alcohol levels and speeds up its effects. More simply put, the subjects needed fewer beers to feel drunk.

"That rapid infusion of alcohol is satisfying them and taking away their desire for more drinks," Lukas said. "That's only a theory. It's the best we've got so far."

Call it the cheap-date drug, I guess. Personally, I've found that putting a few years' distance between oneself and one's bright college days is more than enough to reduce one's need for booze, but I recognize that I'm not universal in that regard.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 17, 2005 to Technology, science, and math | TrackBack