Fun-sounding research into the ability of theChinese herb kudzu to reduce excessive drinking was performed in 'apartment laboratory', according to a study recently published in the current issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital's Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory looked at one of the major components of the kudzu root—the isoflavone puerarin—to determine whether it would reduce alcohol consumption in a laboratory simulation of an afternoon drinking session.
A laboratory at McLean Hospital was set up as an apartment, with TV, DVD player, reclining chair and other amenities. The unit was also stocked with a refrigerator full of each subject's favorite beer and other non-alcoholic beverages.
Lead author David Penetar and his colleagues looked at 10 men and women, all in their 20s who drank alcohol weekly.
During a 90-minute session, each volunteer was allowed to consume as many beers as he or she wanted—up to a maximum of six.
After the session, each was given either puerarin or a placebo and told to take it daily for a week. Then, each returned to do the experiment again.
After four sessions, during which subjects swapped between the two pills, the study showed those taking puerarin drank significantly fewer beers—dropping from 3.5 beers on average to 2.4.
"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, in a statement.
"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."
For the past 10 years, the McLean Hospital has been looking for link between the Chinese herb kudzu and excessive drinking, hoping research may prove useful in the treatment of alcoholism and curbing binge drinking.
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