Ashitaba is a lush green plant that has its origins on the Island of Hachijo where the warm tropical currents pass by on their way North to meet the cold Arctic waters of the Pacific. Its name means“tomorrow’s leaf,” aptly termed due to its ability to reproduce its green stem and leaf almost on a daily basis. This ability for rapid growth also indicates the presence of a strong life force or Qi.
Ashitaba’s scientific name, Angelica keiskei Koidzumi, comes from the Latin name for “angel,” most likely due to its “heavenly”, well-known health benefits that have given it such notoriety. The inhabitants of Hachijo Island are known for their longevity, having some of the longest life spans on earth and living well into their 90′s healthily. These people have had Ashitaba as an integral part of their diet for hundreds of years.
A few years back, I had been suffering from high uric acid and constant gout attacks, For over 7 years, in fact, I took maintenance medicine simply to be able to live a functional life. Yet, I would still get gout attacks frequently and would be disabled for days, unable to walk from the pain in my foot. It seemed like a curse brought upon by genetics that I was to endure a whole lifetime.
My mother started experimenting with Ashitaba around 2008, propagating them around the farm and constantly talking about this “new” discovery. It seemed too good to be true. Ashitaba, as I was later to find out, belongs to the 1% of plants found around the world that are classified as medicinal. As it had history as an effective cure for gout, I became the first guinea pig in this new experiment and hoping for a cure to my condition. I remember eating 10 leaves of Ashitaba each day after breakfast. It was easy on the palate and had some obvious side effects at the start. I started to scratch around my body with rashes appearing sporadically in different parts of my body. I was told this was the so-called “healing crisis”, when the active ingredients of the plant would start to flush the toxins from your body. Having endured the crisis for a number of weeks, I finally went to a dermatologist who advised me to stop eating the leaves for the time being.
Last year I started taking Ashitaba again, in capsule form now, as we had started to dry the leaves and place them in 250mg capsules in a small upstart laboratory. This time, the healing crisis was not as difficult and taking capsules was definitely much easier than chewing raw leaves. I also started turmeric and black pepper in capsule form, something we also made ourselves.
It seems like a miracle that I have not had a bad gout attack since then. I now have a more balanced diet as I live in an organic farm but I can eat food I would have never been able to eat years ago. I even drink beer at times, it didn’t seem so long ago that beer was the great enemy as it was brewed from malt hops. My whole family take Ashitaba daily and so do many others who have started to discover the wonders of this heavenly leaf.
It is no wonder then that Ashitaba was once a kept secret of the elite classes in China as a source of longevity. The oldest written record of the benefits of ashitaba appear to be more than 2,000 years old. Of the many thousands of known plants, ashitaba belongs to the elite category called “medicinal plants.” In China, ashitaba has had a long history of use to purify the blood, detoxify the liver, cleanse the colon, improve lung function, enhance blood circulation, improve nerve dysfunction, and relieve muscle and joint pain.
From the Ming Dynasty to the Shogun warriors, the ashitaba plant traveled from China to Japan and was a well guarded secret of strength and longevity for hundreds of years among the elite classes of society. In traditional Chinese medicine, ashitaba is considered a superior, strengthening yin tonic. It has a wide range of known, health-promoting benefits. It provides immune system stimulation, promotes healthy function of the stomach and intestines, demonstrates specific anti-viral and anti-bacterial activity and reduces inflammation.
In recent studies, Ashitaba has out-performed other herbal supplements including green tea , for anti-oxidant potential according to the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) guide. It possesses phenolic compounds active as an Anti-Oxidant, Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Tumorigenic, Anti-Carcinogenic , Anti-Microbial and Detoxifier.
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