Grape kool-aid. Grape jelly. The intensely sweet smell of flowering kudzu is simply mind-blowing this time of year.
Even though this plant (Pueria lobata) is a nasty invasive in the South…I think it’s important to find creative ways to collaborate with it. I mean, we have no choice at this point. And, I truly sense that plants come to our area (whether introduced by humans, weather, or birds) to provide us needed medicine while restoring disturbed areas through a particular nutrient cycle or some other beneficial mechanism.
Some merits of kudzu (of course only harvest where there is no application of chemical sprays):
– medicinally, the TCM system in China has used kudzu root it to curb alcohol consumption (the isoflavones in kudzu root are said to increase blood alcohol levels beyond normal levels after one alcoholic drink, therefore deterring any further drinking)
– another medicinal point of interest => more recent research has shown its usefulness for brain inflammation (herbalist Buhner writes about this in his book “Healing Lyme’s”); think about borrelia (the main Lyme’s disease bacteria) crossing the blood-brain barrier causing neurological damage (or even toxins, for that matter); he suggests 5-20 drops of the root tincture, 3 times daily; studies have also shown that it lessens certain cytokine (inflammatory) activity throughout the body
– the young leaves are an edible and can be cooked and sauteed like any other green
– the vines make wonderful basket weaving material and are also made into cordage
– the flowers make a delightful jelly; they are also wonderful to infuse in base oils used in soap-making