Ashitaba has long been used in cuisine and traditional medicine for infections, healing wounds, and improving digestion. Research shows that ashitaba may have a vast array of health benefits beyond these traditional uses, including reducing weight, reducing blood pressure, improving heart health, and more. Read on to find out the benefits and dosage of ashitaba.

What is Ashitaba?

Ashitaba (Angelica keiskei) is a green, leafy herb and is part of the carrot (Apiaceae) family. It is also called “tomorrow’s leaf” because of its rapid growth and regenerative properties. All parts of the plant, including the roots, are edible.

Native to the coastal regions of Japan, Ashitaba is commonly used for food and medicine on the Izu Islands and the Izu Peninsula. Ashitaba is a cold-hardy plant that also easily is grown in partially-shaded garden beds.

Ashitaba is eaten as a fresh vegetable, dried into leaves for teas, entrees, and soups, and ground into powder for supplementation. Tea is made after 15 minutes of steeping dried leaves in hot water. The plant was traditionally used to treat the flu, hepatitis, arthritis, indigestion, fever, and infections [R].

Components

Ashitaba is a complex herb with many nutrients, including [R, R, R, R]:

Ashitaba also contains many active beneficial compounds, including [R, R, R, R]:

  • Chalcones, including isobavachalcone, xanthoangelol, and 4-hydroxyderricin
  • Chlorophyll
  • Lutein
  • Alpha-carotene and beta-carotene
  • Quercetin
  • Catechin

Mechanism of Action

Ashitaba has many diverse effects, including:

  • Increasing levels of the hormone adiponectin, which reduces glucose levels and increases fat breakdown [R].
  • Decreasing levels of a receptor called PPARγ, which plays a key role in fat cell creation (adipogenesis) [R].
  • The causing of programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells [R].
  • Blocking the activity of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which lowers blood pressure [R].
  • Increasing levels of the antioxidants glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase, reducing inflammation [R, R].
  • Reducing depression by blocking the activity of monoamine oxidase (MAO), an enzyme that breaks down dopamine and serotonin [R].
  • Decreasing levels of the protein plasma plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), which decreases the risks of blood clotting [R].

15 Health Benefits of Ashitaba

1) Ashitaba Helps with Weight Loss

In a study (DB-RCT) of 15 healthy weight and 25 overweight people, ashitaba reduced waist width and body weight after 8 weeks. The overweight people also had reduced stomach fat (visceral fat) [R].

A pilot trial found that ashitaba reduced stomach fat (visceral), total body fat, BMI, and body weight in people with metabolic syndrome at both 4 and 8 weeks [R].

Mice on a high-fat diet receiving ashitaba had a reduced body weight, body fat, and liver fat [R].

Ashitaba increased a hormone that may benefit weight loss (adiponectin) in mouse fat cells [R].

2) Ashitaba May Reduce Liver Damage from Alcohol

In a study (DB-RCT) of 82 heavy alcohol drinkers, 12 weeks of supplementation with ashitaba reduced gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), a marker of liver damage [R].

3) Ashitaba May Help Fight Cancer

Ashitaba prevented tumor growth, increased survival time, and prevented the spread of cancer to other sites (metastasis) in mice [R].

 In cell studies of liver and stomach cancers, ashitaba caused cancer cell death, increased anticancer enzyme markers (quinone reductase), and reduced new tumor formation [RRR].

Cell studies of brain cancer (neuroblastoma) have found that ashitaba and its active compounds cause cancer cell death (apoptosis) [R, R, R].

4) Ashitaba May Help with Diabetes

In diabetic mice and rats, ashitaba reduced fasting blood sugar and insulin levels [R, R R].

Ashitba reduced blood sugar levels, insulin, and triglycerides in rats fed a high-sugar diet [R].

Two of the active compounds in ashitaba (4-hydroxyderricin and xanthoangelol) reduced blood sugar and insulin levels in mice fed a high-fat diet by increasing adiponectin, a hormone that improves insulin sensitivity [R].

5) Ashitaba May Help Reduce Blood Pressure

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) is an enzyme that plays a role in blood pressure control. Drugs that block the activity of ACE (ACE inhibitors) are used to treat high blood pressure.

Ashitaba reduced blood pressure in rats by blocking the activity of ACE [R].

6) Ashitaba May Prevent Memory Loss

Ashitaba improved short- and long-term memory in mice with drug-induced memory loss [R].

7) Ashitaba Reduces DNA Damage

An ashitaba-based juice (240 ml daily) over 8 weeks reduced DNA damage in 20 smokers in an open-label study [R].

A cell study found that ashitaba protected DNA from compounds that cause mutations (mutagens) [R].

8) Ashitaba May Help Fight the Flu

Ashitaba prevented the flu virus from replicating in a cell study [R].

9) Ashitaba Reduces Inflammation

Ashitabareduced markers of inflammation in multiple cell studies, including [R, R, R, R, R]:

  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)
  • Interleukin 6 (IL-6)
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2)
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases (MAPKs)
  • Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta (NF-kB)
  • Endothelin 1

10) Ashitaba Increases Antioxidant Levels

In a pilot study of 10 healthy adults, ashitaba powder increased antioxidant levels [R].

In rats and mice, fresh ashitaba juice and fermented ashitaba increased antioxidants, including [R, R]:

11) Ashitaba May Reduce Blood Clotting

Fibrin is a protein that is involved in blood clots.

Ashitaba extract reduced levels of plasma plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PA-1), a compound that prevents the breakdown fibrin clots (fibrinolysis) [R].

Platelets are one of the main components of blood clots and the grouping together of platelets is one of the key steps in the clotting process.

In a cell study, 4-hydroxyderricin and xanthoangelol reduced the grouping together of platelets (platelet aggregation) [R].

12) Ashitaba Is Antibacterial

In multiple cell studies, extracts of ashitaba reduced the growth of many species of harmful bacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis [R, R, R].

13) Ashitaba May Protect the Liver

In cell study, ashitaba extract protected liver cells from acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) toxicity [R].

14) Ashitaba May Have Antidepressant Effects

Drugs that block the activity of the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) are widely used as antidepressants.

In a cell study, xanthoangelol and 4-hydroxyderricin achieved similar potency in blocking the activity of MAO as the common antidepressant drug iproniazid [R].

15) Ashitaba and Cholesterol

In rats, ashitaba extract increased beneficial HDL cholesterol and reduced liver fat [R].

Yet, moderate and high amounts of ashitaba powder did not improve blood cholesterol in rats fed a high-fat diet [R].

Side Effects

There are no reported side effects of ashitaba. However, some users have reported mild stomach upset.

Limitations and Caveats

Most of the research for ashitaba is conducted in cells and animals and there are few clinical trials. Caution should be taken when applying this research for use in humans.

Forms of Supplementation

Ashitaba leaves, stems, and the roots can be eaten either raw, cooked, or dried. Ashitaba extracts are available in tablet, capsules, tea, and powder form for supplementation.

Dosage

Doses ranging from 200 to 500 mg of ashitaba extract have been used in clinical trials.

User Experiences

Users of ashitaba found improvements in blood pressure, well-being, energy, and digestive pain.

Lactating mothers had improvements in breast milk supply. Others found that it kept them from getting gout symptoms.

As a tea, users state that it tastes nutty, like green tea, or has a pleasant taste. Others find it is bitter in taste.

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

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