Angelica Keiskei Koidzimi, more popularly known by its Japanese name Ashitaba, is a biennial herb that has been used in both Japanese and Chinese traditional medicine for hundreds of years. The name Angelica, which in Latin means angel, was given to the plant due to its so-called godly effect of slowing down the aging process .
The name Ashitaba on the other hand, literally means “Tomorrow’s Leaf” in Japanese, aptly describing the plant’s extraordinary ability to regenerate. Plucking a leaf from the plant at dawn often results in the growth of a new sprout the very next day.
This water soluble green super food is used in food and drinks, and more popularly, nutritional supplements.
Ashitaba is classified as a hardy herbaceous biennial that grows best in areas with warm and humid summers yet is able to tolerate frost during the cold season. Endemic to Hachijo Jima, a small volcanic island off the coast of Tokyo , young Ashitaba leaves and stems as well as the plant’s roots have been an integral part of the diet of the island’s residents who are known to have one of the longest life expectancies on the planet. These residents have referred to the Ashitaba as the “longevity herb” throughout history.
Scientists have been studying the diet and the environment of the island’s residents to determine the reasons for their longevity. They discovered the presence of a rare type of flavonoid called chalcones which is unique to Ashitaba. Chalconoids are potent compounds which promote healthy cell development and growth.
Containing eleven vitamins, and a total of thirteen minerals in significant levels, Ashitaba is like a treasure trove of important nutrients. Aside from vitamins and minerals, Ashitaba also has large doses of chlorophyll, which helps in the production of blood and in the healing of wounds.
Ashitaba also contains organic germanium which has been discovered to stimulate the production of Interferon, a substance produced by our body that gives protection against certain viruses and bacteria that cause chronic diseases. Germanium also bars harmful hydrogen ions in the blood thereby creating an alkaline PH.
Ashitaba provides good quantities of phenolic compounds that have anti-oxidant and detoxifying properties that promote and sustain normal cell development and activity. Chalcones, which are flavonoids found only in the milky yellow sap of Ashitaba, is a potent antioxidant that supports healthy cell growth. Calchones also help boost metabolism that can contribute to better weight management.
The powerful compounds found in Ashitaba also stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF)  which help maintain the health of connective tissues between the neurons and the brain that can lead to the alleviation of symptoms associated with several degenerative diseases.
In a research published in Nutraceuticals World in September 2002, Ashitaba a truly impressive green super food, was cited to have out-performed other herbs including green tea in antioxidant potential based on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).
1. Available at http://ashitabaplant.blogspot.com/2011/06/ashitaba.html. Accessed July 2, 2014.
2. Available at http://www.4seasonsseeds.com.au/Angelica-Keiskei-Koidzumi. Accessed July 2, 2014.
3. Available at http://www.interestinghealthfacts.net/ashitaba-health-benefits/. Accessed July 2, 2014.
4. Available at http://ashitabaplant.blogspot.com/2011/06/ashitaba.html. Accessed July 2, 2014.