In the East, kuzu, a member of the legume family, has enjoyed an excellent reputation and has been part of the cuisine of China and Japan for more than two thousand years. The starch that makes kuzu an outstanding jelling and thickening agent in cooking is partly responsible for its medicinal action. Some of kuzu's complex starch molecules enter the intestines and relieve the discomfort caused by overacidity, bacterial infection, and - in the case of diarrhea - excess water. In many cases of abdominal aching and intestinal irritation, a bowl of kuzu gruel or pudding brings quick relief. particularly for children who often do not like the taste of over-the-counter stomach medications.
According to Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Traditional Medicine and Preventive Health Care in Portland, Oregon, kuzu also contains a very high concentration of flavonoids, which are responsible for its strong medicinal effect on the digestive and circulatory systems. Flavonoids, which occur naturally in kuzu and other plants, are fairly well known as antioxidants. However, they also have the ability to inhibit the contraction of smooth muscle tissue, thereby increasing blood flow and relieving cramping in the intestines.