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Kud-zu pass me the bottle?

kudzu root hangover remedy

Photo by Mario [flickr.com/mariotto52] under CC BY-NC 2.0

Guidelines on the use of medicinal herbs typically address safety and dosage. Often, there is a relationship between these two standards. For side effects are often dose-dependent; and an herb that has been shown to cause side effects can feasibly be safely consumed as long as the proper dosage (and frequency) is followed.

An issue that can be overlooked—especially in pop-culture, over-the-counter remedies—is the relationship between herb safety and the part of the plant that is used.

A kudzu root hangover remedy is a good pop-culture example.

Kudzu is a weed that grows invasively throughout the southern United States. It is also abundant in Asia, and its root has been long-used in Chinese medicine for head and body aches that accompany upper respiratory infections, and to alleviate thirst in feverish conditions.

In the West, it has become common to attribute another healing effect to kudzu root: the ability to relieve hangovers.

Acetaldehyde is a byproduct of alcohol metabolism and is a suspected culprit in hangovers. While kudzu has been shown to aid the breakdown of acetaldehyde in the body…

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Ageing Out


Photo by empty007 [flickr.com/empty007] under CC BY-SA 2.0

“Ageing out” sounds like a euphemism for getting old.

Instead of losing your edge, you can age out of competitive sports and become recreational.

Instead of becoming less productive, you can age out of the workforce with a congratulatory early retirement—“Cheers, old chum. You’ve made [room for cheaper labor]!

Instead of needing a bib, you can age out of fine dining.

It’s really not a euphemism, though. It is typically used to signify the transition from adolescent to adult, specifically when a minor ages out of foster care. However, the term has recently been applied to drug use.

With the healthcare cost of drug abuse, the economics and morals of legalizing marijuana, and the overuse of opioids, drug use remains headline material. The ongoing spotlight on new drug abuse cases indicates that current policies to curb illegal drug use—and prescription drug abuse—are handicapped. But we can inject optimism into the issue of declining population health and its economic burden, if we consider the idea that many are ageing out of drugs.

The idea is that since many people simply age out of drugs, no costly long-term treatment would be required for them. The ageing-out theory is that life stages and changing circumstances eventually preclude the desire for drugs.

There are two issues here. One is that there is still a segment of the population that does not age out of drug use—mostly the impoverished and uneducated. The other is that, [continue reading…]