I love Kudzu! Kudzu root, also known as Japanese arrowroot, Ge Gen or Pueraria radix is a herb I always have in my kitchen cupboard as well as in my dispensary cupboard.
Not only is it very starchy so it can be used as a thickener in cooking but it has wonderful medicinal qualities too. Simply mix a tablespoon of powder in a little cold water to dissolve then add this paste to 1 cup of liquid and voila, you have a medicinal custard (recipe below as promised in my Christmas cake post) or thick medicinal sauce for your vegetables. It is a great substitute for cornstarch or arrowroot.
From a Chinese medical perspective, it is listed under the category of herbs that are cool and acrid and release the exterior which means it’s great when you have a cold – the sort that results in a fever, headache, and stiff or tight upper back and neck. Since it’s antispasmodic effect releases the muscles it has recently also been used to treat the headaches and dizziness than can accompany hypertension.
The primary organs it targets is the digestive system so it is great when you struggle with a dry mouth or thirst due to too much heat in your stomach. It is also very helpful for alleviating hot, smelly diarrhoea.
Kudzu root powder can be purchased at many health food stores or ordered online through companies such as Spiral foods.
Here are a few recipes you can enjoy
Kuzu Apple Cold Elixir adapted from Japanese Foods that Heal
- ½ cup apple or pear juice
- ½ cup water
- 1-2 tsp kuzu starch, dissolved in a little water
- Warm apple juice and water on the stove over low heat.
- When juice mixture is warm add dissolved kuzu.
- Stir constantly until kuzu thickens and becomes translucent. Approximately 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat, let cool and enjoy
Drink 1 to 4 cups daily when you have a cold.
Ume Kuzu Drink for digestion
Kudzu and umeboshi plum make a great digestive aid combination. The kudzu has a thick, viscous consistency which coats the stomach and protects it from excess acid. Umeboshi plum, which is strongly alkaline, neutralizes the harmful effects of excess stomach acid. Together, they benefit the digestive system, even offering relief from stomach ulcers and heartburn. Ume-kuzu drink is broad-spectrum remedy that benefits the digestive system as a whole.
- Put the water in a small pot on the stove and bring to boil.
- Dissolve the kuzu in a small amount of cold water then add it to the water. Stir constantly until it thickens. It should only take a few minutes. If you do not stir you may end up with lumps. Once the liquid turns clear and starts to simmer, turn off the heat and allow to cool a little.
- In a cup put the umeboshi plum or paste and pour the warm kuzu over it. Stir and drink warm.
Since Kuzu is cooling you can add a slice of fresh ginger to the pot if you’re feeling cold or it’s winter time. Ginger will not only warm you up but it will also help settle any nausea or digestive issues
You can add ½ tsp tamari (gluten free soy sauce) to your tea – this fermented sauce has strong anti oxidant properties and is said to aid in the digestion of grains and vegetables
Instead of plain water you could use a tea such as Genmaicha or Kukicha to make this drink feel more calming and soothing.
Here is a treat that not only tastes good but is good for you.
- 1 L milk of choice (soy, almond, rice, oat etc)
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 4 Tbsp kudzu dissolved in a little water
- Put the milk, vanilla and maple syrup in a pot on the stove and bring to a boil.
- Once it is boiling lower the heat and add the kudzu paste. Stir well and continuously until the custard thickens and then remove it from the heat.
- If it is not getting thick enough you can add a little more kudzu paste
- Enjoy your custard with cake or fruit or just on its own
Your feedback and questions are always welcome so please leave a comment below.
For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Tania Grasseschi (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Wholefood counselling). Tania is a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (AHPRA registered) in Kingsford and is a Contract Academic at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Sydney campus.