If you’re vegan, you probably hear it all the time, “vegans don’t get enough B12!” Well, not anymore with the recent resurgence of this traditional Japanese and Chinese healing food used throughout the ages to enhance beauty, build the blood and increase longevity.
This incredibly resilient plant is known affectionately as “tomorrow’s leaf” for its strange ability to restore all new leaf growth within a very short amount of time (often within 24 hours of harvest!). The entire plant from root, stem and leaf to its golden sap is thought to have a similar effect on the body – to quickly heal and regenerate healthy cells. Many use Ashitaba for it’s anti-aging and beautifying properties for that very reason – cell renewal and fresh blood to the skin.
This rich plant-based source of Vitamins B6 and B12, a very rare find, is known to nourish and build the blood and therefore help with all aspects of health. B12 is also a very important source of energy and this herbs is known for providing a hefty boost of energy without the jitters that caffeine often is associated with.
Ashitaba, a perennial plant from the angelica genus, also contains an interesting compound called “chalcones” that is an effective Nerve Growth Hormone stimulator and currently being studied for its correlation to longevity.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ashitaba is believed to activate the body’s qi (life-force energy) and (xue) blood. It is therefore used for the treatment of many menstrual problems, stagnant blood flow and helping with menstrual cramps, irregular bleeding and easing the symptoms associated with perimenopause. This activating of qi and blood is also thought to increase lactation in women who have trouble breastfeeding and producing milk.
Shen is a concept in TCM that translates roughly to ‘spirit’. Ashitaba is a shen tonic, which means that it promotes spiritual well-being and and health of the “heart-mind”.
Ashitaba is also used in TCM for its ability to harmonize the Spleen and Stomach, balancing the Earth element. There are a few cases where Ashitaba was used to treat insulin-dependent diabetes, preventing blood-sugar spikes and hyperglycemia. It is also used as a diuretic with no known side effects.
Dr. Kimi Baba from Osaka University School of Pharmacy published a paper showing Ashitaba to decrease the rate of acid production in the stomach. The paper also showed a decrease in stress levels associated with stomach ulcers.
In another study, Dr. Toru Okuyama of Meiji University, College of Pharmacy did some testing of Ashitaba on mice with tobacco-induced lung cancer and skin melanomas. For 6 months, the skin cancer mice were given an external application of the Ashitaba extract. According to the article, the cancer was controlled with this topical therapy. The tobacco-induced lung cancer mice were given Ashitaba in both fluid and food form and the article states that the lung cancer progression stopped with the internal Ashitaba therapy.
Some of the uses for Ashitaba include:
- Boosts the immune system
- Gl tract disorders
- Stomach cancer
- Ulcers, Heartburn and GERD
- Carcinoma and Melanoma
- Chronic hepatitis
- Blood cleansing
- Normalizing blood-sugar levels
- Food poisoning
- Common colds
- Cell reproduction and revival
- High blood pressure
- Antiviral properties
- Powerful anti-oxidant
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Increase in sperm count
- Mild laxative
- Menopause and PMS symptoms
- Anti-aging properties
Sadly, due to the repercussions of the Fukushima Nuclear Tragedy, it is better to purchase Ashitaba from organic farms in Taiwan (click here for a product I recommend). These test as a clean source with no harmful radiation levels detected.
Ashitaba can be placed in smoothies, in water or tea or sprinkled on food. It has a pleasant celery-like taste and is yellowish-green in color.
I don’t know about you, but my shen is lifted just knowing this plant exists is available to all.