Japanese arrowroot is an herbal ingredient that frequently finds its way into non-prescription weight loss supplements, among others. It can be found in formula ingredient in pills or in food. It may be listed under a any of a very long list of potential names as it is called many different things in the food and supplement industries.
Among the names you might see to represent Japanese Arrowroot on a package are: isoflavones, pueraria lobata, kudsu, gegen, red Indian kudzu, vidarikand, lobata, yege, radix puerariae, kudzu vine, fen ke, gange, fenge, bidarikand, pueraria mirifica, dolichos hirsutus, kakkon, and ge gen, among many others.
Japanese arrowroot is an ingredient derived from kudzu, a plant that grows wild in North America. That said, it first arrived in the United States in 1876 when it was brought to the Southeastern part of the country in order to help prevent soil erosion. From there, it spread very quickly throughout the Southeastern United States and became a highly invasive species. The outcome was that this vine quickly took over fields, farms and even building exteriors. This earned it the nickname “the vine that ate the South.”
As much as that also gave the Japanese arrowroot the plant a reputation as a weed to be eliminated, its flower, leaf and root all have medicinal benefits. In fact, they’ve been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. There are records of uses of this plant dating back to 200 BC or earlier. It was used to treat alcoholism up until 600 AD.
In modern natural medicine, this ingredient is used for reasons ranging from circulatory issues to digestive struggles, menopausal symptoms and overcoming obesity.
The main reason Japanese arrowroot has medicinal purposes is because of one of the chemicals it contained, called puerarin. That chemical is administered in many different ways from orally to intravenously, depending on the purpose for which it was used.
As of yet, there is inadequate evidence to suggest that using Japanese arrowroot in supplements has a direct benefit when it comes to reducing obesity. Any research that has indicated that it could promote weight loss is either from a very small study or involves animal research and not humans.
That said, regardless of whether or not this ingredient can help users of diet pills, it does appear that it is likely safe to use in the amounts that are typically included in those supplements. Research has shown that it is safe for oral use for up to 4 months and is safe to use intravenously for up to 20 days.