This article first appeared in mindbodygreen.com and is written by Matthew Lovitt
Roots are known to be the source of a plant’s energy and should occupy a special place in our diets and our medicine chests. Kuzu root, in particular, has been used by Eastern healers for almost 2,000 years and is most often utilized in foods to impart its ability to heal and balance natural sugars. While other roots such as ginseng, burdock, beets and carrots are prized for their nutritional value, none comes close to kuzu and its ability to quell digestive disturbances and calm the nerves. Kuzu is also noted for its high flavonoid composition and is gaining traction in the medical community for its ability to treat a variety of health concerns. In its native land, kuzu enjoys an excellent reputation and must be considered as a valuable alternative to the potentially harmful pharmaceuticals that pervade our society.
Natural Home Remedy
Kuzu root can be found in a couple different forms that can be at home to treat a number of “everyday” ailments. Kuzu can be found as a starch, which I consider its “rock” form, where the root is cleaned and processed to remove the inedible fibers. Kuzu starch is most commonly used to treat minor indigestion and the symptoms of the common cold, but it can also be used as a remedy for constipation, to stimulate appetite and to calm hyperactive children or minds. Alternately, kuzu root can be purchased dried, which has the added benefit of containing more water-soluble flavonoids that are often lost during starch production, and can be found in herbal teas. Widely marketed as kakkon, this herbal tea frequently contains a variety of other herbs (typically ginger, licorice and cinnamon) that can be combined to combat a variety of ailments. Upset tummies no more!
Modern medicine is catching on to all the hype and is using kuzu root, or its extracted flavonoid puerarin, to reduce high blood pressure, regulate blood sugar, relieve chronic migraines and ease muscular tension. A few studies have even found that the consumption of flavonoids reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. A strange twist to its medicinal value, kuzu has been getting a lot of press lately around its apparent ability to help treat chronic alcoholism. And, although the observed reduction in alcohol consumption was by no means overwhelming, it is another example of kuzu’s ability to help treat disease without the need for synthetic medicines.
Kuzu Foods & Desserts
Now to the important stuff: food! Kuzu is unsurpassed as a thickening agent and can produce sparkling sauces, gloss soups and provide a smooth texture to a wide variety of foods. Considering an indulgence? Kuzu can even be dusted on vegetables or fish prior to frying to provide a light and crisp coating. All awesome choices, but kuzu is most often utilized for its ability to help balance the acidity of sweets and is commonly used in desserts such as puddings, pies, icing and atop a variety of cakes. Kuzu’s superior jelling strength, taste, texture and healing attributes place it above other natural starches such as arrowroot and is healthier alternative to corn and potato starches that are highly processed and chemically treated. Simply adding crushed kuzu starch to fresh fruit and juice over low heat makes an amazing fruit sauce that will satisfy your sweet tooth and is a healthier alternative to artificial sugars and syrups.
Ancient herbal remedies such as kuzu are a powerful, all natural source of healing that have proven extremely valuable in treating a number of everyday ailments and are now gaining widespread acceptance in the medical community for use in combating a variety of health concerns. By integrating natural remedies we can organically improve our health and wellness while avoiding modern pharmaceuticals and the potentially harmful side effects that they may cause. All this while enjoying an outstanding safety record is proof enough that ancient herbal remedies can be considered a valuable source of relief in our pursuit of total health and wellness.
Matthew Lovitt is an avid runner, writer, reader, eater, cooker, yogi and student of holistic nutrition.