As a remedy, kuzu root is used in two ways: as powdered starch and as whole dried root. Kuzu starch remedies can be used to treat minor indigestion; some experts use it to treat colds and minor aches and pains as well (eating lots of foods made with kuzu starch can have the same effects and is considered good preventive medicine). Teas can be used when a different type of medicine is needed: for chronic headaches, stiff shoulders, colitis, sinus troubles, tonsillitis, respiratory ailments, hangovers, allergies (especially hay fever), bronchial asthma, and skin rashes.
In his book Healing Ourselves (Avon Books, 1973), holistic health practitioner Naboru Muramoto recommends a drink called kuzu cream (see recipe) for colds, general body pains, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Kuzu cream is also recommended for neutralizing stomach acidity and for relaxing tight muscles. When made with the addition of ginger juice and minced umeboshi (salt-pickled plum), the drink is especially potent. The ginger aids digestion and circulation while the salt plum neutralizes lactic acid and eliminates it from the body.
Kuzu cream and other remedies are made using kuzu root starch while medicinal kuzu teas are usually made using pieces of the whole kuzu root, which contains more water-soluble medicinal flavonoids, some of which are lost during starch production. Kuzu root tea (kakkon) is found in herbal shops and some natural foods stores and frequently contains several other medicinal herbs including ginger, licorice, and cinnamon.
Stomach-Settling Kuzu Cream
Makes 1 cup
This rejuvenating tonic is most effective when taken about one hour before meals (preferably in the morning when the stomach is empty). This recipe makes a thick, pudding-like cream. If you'd prefer to make a thinner drink, reduce the amount of kuzu to one rounded teaspoon.
1 1/2 tablespoons kuzu starch
1 umeboshi plum, pitted and minced, or 1 teaspoon umeboshi paste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger juice (finely grate ginger root and squeeze to extract juice)
1/2-1 teaspoon shoyu (optional)
In a small enamel or nonmetallic saucepan, thoroughly dissolve kuzu starch in 1 cup cold water. Add umeboshi and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. As soon as the mixture begins to bubble around the edges, stir constantly until kuzu thickens and becomes translucent. Gently simmer 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Add ginger juice and, if desired, shoyu to taste.
For a quick pick-me-up or for treating small children, good tasting kuzu beverages are ideal. In his book Macrobiotic Home Remedies, macrobiotic teacher Michio Kushi recommends Apple-Kuzu Drink for constipation, fever and to stimulate appetite. Apple-Kuzu drink's soothing effect is also used to calm down hyperactive children. When making this tonic for young children, replace 1/2 cup of the apple juice with water.
1 cup apple juice
small pinch Masu 100% Sea Water Salt (optional)
1 rounded teaspoon kuzu (crush chunks with back of spoon before measuring)
1-2 tablespoons water for dissolving kuzu
Heat the apple juice and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat. Thoroughly dissolve the kuzu in water, add it to the juice while stirring, then return the pot to the burner. Stir constantly until kuzu thickens and becomes translucent. Simmer a minute more, then remove from heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.