A Chinese Root that may End Binge Drinking

Kudzu binge drinking treatment A new study shows Kudzu may help treat binge drinking. A Chinese root may be the answer to Britain’s alcoholism and binge drinking problems. A new study from McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School researchers has found that extracts from kudzu root drastically reduces drinking and may be useful for treating alcoholism and binge drinking.

The study found that puerarin, a component of the kudzu root, significantly reduced the amount of alcohol people chose to drink.  Apart from reducing quantity, the drug has other positive effects. It slows the pace of drinking which allows the body to better process the alcohol. It is also effective after only one week of use.

"Our study is further evidence that components found in kudzu root can reduce alcohol consumption and do so without adverse side effects," said David Penetar, PhD, of the Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory at McLean Hospital, and the lead author of the study. "Further research is needed, but this botanical medication may lead to additional methods to treat alcohol abuse and dependence."

This new form of treatment could not come at a better time for the UK. The NHS is currently spending £2.7 billion on hospital admissions related to alcohol including violence and long-term health problems.  Despite overall alcohol consumption going down, liver disease is on the rise in Britain. It has grown by 25% in the past 10 years.  Much of the problem appears to stem from young people consuming more alcohol quickly.

"Undoubtedly professionals are seeing more (patients) in their late-20s to mid-30s, which would have been unusual 20 years ago," said Chris Day, a liver disease specialist at Newcastle University.

A new drug that would not interfere with the effects of alcohol but could moderate its consumption may be just the thing to help prevent binge drinking.  In the study, the subjects did not experience any aversion to alcohol nor did they report any lack of enjoyment of the alcohol they did drink.

"This was a simulation of a binge drinking opportunity and not only did we see the subjects drinking less, we noted that their rate of consumption decreased, meaning they drank slower and took more sips to finish a beer," explained Penetar. "While we do not suggest that puerarin will stop drinking all together, it is promising that it appears to slow the pace and the overall amount consumed."

If a drug of this sort were to make it into production, it has the potential to do much more than reduce binge drinking. It may be useful in helping prevent other alcohol problems like over consumption, alcohol related violence and costly medical expenses.

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