I've just thought of a new slogan for Truth In Aging: "we cover cosmetics like kudzu covers the south". For those of you who don't live in Virginia or elsewhere in the south east where it blankets a staggering seven million acres, kudzu is an invasive plant that voraciously takes over everything in its path.

Kudzu is now invading cosmetics, but is there really anything to this weed? In Japan, from whence it came, the roots are eaten. They appear, primarily, to be a source of starch and a useful thickening agent. Traditional Chinese medicine uses kudzu to treat dysentery and migraines. Recent research suggests that it may be a hangover cure and even suppress the need to drink alcohol. All of which may come in handy, but still doesn't tell me what it's doing in eye gel.

Kudzu mainly contains flavones, such as daidzein, daidzin, daidzein-4, 7-diglucose glucoside, puerarin, puerarin-7-xyloside, puerarol, xylopuerarin, isoflavonoid glycoside and starch. Flavones, or flavonoids are primarily known for their antioxidant value.

Ah, so that's it. Not quite. There are some especially important flavonoids, such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins, which are helpful in inhibiting the destruction of collagen. None of them are in kudzu. Daidzein, which is, has proven cancer fighting properties.

I haven't been able to make a convincing connection between kudzu's flavones and skin care. Daidzein and puerarin seem to be responsible for curbing the desire for alcohol. So, perhaps kudzu-based potions are best reserved for those occassions when you its all too tempting to 'have one more for the road'.