Is Ashitaba for Real?

Ashitaba is a unique Asian green vegetable rich in the highly potent antioxidant – chalcone. Recent studies in Japan and the US show that chalcone helps guard against heart problems, cancer, oxidation of LDL cholesterol, osteoporosis, diabetes  and even Alzheimer’s disease. Donald Buhler and his colleagues at Oregon State University discovered that the minute amount of chalcone present in hops was six times as potent as those antioxidants found in citrus fruits, almost four times as potent as those in soy and two times more potent than those of green tea.

First I’d like to give you some information on Ashitaba that is generally known and can be found easily in any library or on the web.  Ashitaba is a type of Angelica herb.  However, it is distinctly superior to other Angelicas.  Let’s look deeper into the set of components of Ashitaba known as “chalcones”.

Chalcones are rarely found anywhere in the natural world but are the key factor in ashitaba (Angelica Keiskei Koidzmi). Research has shown that the unique properties of ashitaba are at least partly due to these remarkable compounds.

The chalcones that are in ashitaba are known as Xanthoangelol, Xanthoangelol-E and 4-Hydrooxyderricin and were discovered by Dr. Kimie Baba (MD, Osaka University of Pharmacy). These organic compounds are flavonoids and they give the plant its characteristic yellow sap.  This sap differentiates ashitaba from all other strains of angelica. The antioxidant  activity of flavonoids is due to their molecular structure, and these structural characteristics of certain flavonoids found in ashitaba confer surprisingly potent antioxidant activity exceeding that of red wine, green tea, or soy.

The main functions of the chalcones are:

  1. To cleanse the blood and promote blood circulation which has the effect of:
    • regulating cholesterol levels
    • reducing blood pressure
    • regulating blood sugar
    • improving vision
    • improving memory
    • reducing joint and muscle pain
    • enhancing liver and kidney function
    • normalizing cells
    • preventing osteoporosis
    • reducing allergy and sinus problems
    • strengthening immune system
    • functioning as an antibacterial and antiviral
    • promoting metabolism
    • acting as a mild sedative
    • reducing smooth muscle spasms in the arteries and bronchial tubes
    • preventing thrombus
    • suppressing gastric acid secretion
  2. As a potent antioxidant, it helps to protect the organs from destructive free radicals and slows the aging process.
  3. Detoxification by enhancement of smooth bowel movements. It also acts as an effective diuretic to remove toxic waste from the body.

Well, this is quite a list.  Many readers may find it difficult to imagine how a single plant could deliver all of the above benefits.  However, it is within my own experience that such foods do exist.  They are referred to as “superfoods” and one such is stabilized rice bran, which many of you already use.

ANTIOXIDANTS

I learned that Ashitaba contains antioxidants that are more potent than those found in green tea.  The water based (hydrophillic) antioxidants in Ashitaba measure at 6.20.  Sage tea takes second place at 4.67.  Third place went to green tea with a measurement of 3.50.  This analysis was provided by PhotoChem®.

ARTICLES

Anti-tumor and anti-metastatic activities of Angelica keiskei roots, part 1: Isolation of an active substance, xanthoangelol by Yoshiyuki Kimura, Kimiye Baba. Published in Cancer Diagnosis and Therapy

Artery Relaxation by Chalcones Isolated from the Roots of Angelica keiskei in Pharmacology Planta Med 2001; 67: 230-235

Anti-Tumor-Promotion by Principles Obtained from Angelica keiskei Okuyama, T.; Takata, M.; Takayasu, J.; Hasegawa, T.; Tokuda, H.; Nishino, A.; Nishino, H.; Iwashima, A. Full text as PDF (390 kb) Planta Medica; 03, 1991

NUTRIENTS

A short comparison is in order.  Let’s look at the amounts of certain key substances found in normal Ashitaba compared to the amounts found in  “AshitabaGreen”.

Vit. B-12     Ashitaba – 0.04 ug;     Ashitaba Green – 17.18 ug
Calcium       Ashitaba – 478 ug;       Ashitaba Green – 980 mg
Vit. A           Ashitaba – 2130 IU;    Ashitaba Green – 3350 IU

The comparison goes on …

TRADITIONAL USES

Ashitaba has been consumed as a vegetable and medicine for many hundreds of years by the inhabitants of Seven Islands of Izu (the Longevity Islands). In Japan, ashitaba is used to treat hypertension. As a diuretic it has no side effects such as those frequently found in western medicines. Ashitaba is very useful in treating menstrual cramps  and pains. It is also wonderful for making menopause more comfortable.  _Dr. Kevin Lance Jones, L. Ac., O.M.D. Further, ashitaba is useful in the treatment of gynecological conditions that are generally not easily treated with conventional therapies, and can provide options beyond hormone replacement therapy and hysterectomies.

NERVE GROWTH FACTOR

Scientists at the Biomedical Group of TAKARA Shuzo Co Ltd discovered that in vivo production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) is enhanced by several compounds contained in Ashitaba).  NGF is a protein essential in the development and survival of certain neurons in both the central and peripheral nervous systems.  This protein is expected to be effective in preventing and treating Alzheimer-type dementia and diabetic peripheral neuropathy and as yet cannot be manufactured. However NGF-production enhancers such as ashitaba can pass through the blood-brain barrier to work in the brain and increase the NGF concentration.

I have experimentally been taking index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=8_27&products_id=68 for three months now and have seen marked benefits in several aspects of my digestion.  It is available as Ashitaba tincture.

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