There are lots of good reasons to cut back on the amount of alcohol you drink each day. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, two-thirds of Americans admit to drinking alcohol on a regular basis, and 22 percent felt that they probably drink too much.
How much is too much? If you ask the government, moderate drinking is defined as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Anything beyond that is considered excessive drinking and can increase your risk for health issues such as liver disease, pancreatitis, high blood pressure and various cancers.
So what can you do if your current drinking level is beyond moderate? If you're struggling, you may find help in the form of kudzu, an ancient herbal remedy for heart disease that's creating quite a buzz over its ability to help you stop getting buzzed.
In a recent study of 17 heavy-drinking American men, researchers found — in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial — that men who took kudzu cut their alcohol consumption by between 34 and 57 percent.
To test the effectiveness of the herb on British drinkers, the BBC's Trust Me I'm A Doctor team repeated the experiment, albeit in a slightly less scientific trial. But they did gather an enthusiastic group of drinkers and treated them to two nights out, one week apart, in which they could drink as much or as little as they wanted.
On the first night, each participant was given a pill, but they didn't know whether it was kudzu or a placebo. A week later, the folks who had taken kudzu the week before were given the placebo and vice versa — but again, they didn't know which was which.
Both kudzu leaves and kudzu roots have been shown to reduce hangover pain and decrease alcohol consumption, respectively. (Photo: Bubba73/Wikimedia Commons)
The same participants drank about 20 percent less when they took the kudzu before their night out than when they took the placebo.
How does it work? Those who have taken it note that it doesn't remove the desire to drink, but it does curb how much you want to drink by making you feel the effects of the alcohol sooner. So for example, if it usually takes two glasses of wine for you to feel a buzz, you might feel it after one glass with the kudzu.
So if you're trying to cut back on your drinking, kudzu could be worth a try. As always, you should talk with your doctor before adding any new supplement to your diet.
Unfortunately, your biggest issue may be finding a bottle of kudzu that actually contains what it says on the label. Herbal supplement manufacturers have come under fire in recent years for saying that a product contains one thing when it contains another. And the self-regulating nature of the American herbal supplement market means that the Food and Drug Administration has little authority to regulate.
But if you can find a manufacturer that you trust, and if your doctor gives you the OK, kudzu might be just what you need to help your curb how much you drink.