By: Dr. Tom Cowan
I recently came across a review article about the fundamental properties of the plant Angelica Keiskei, known to us as ashitaba. Although many of you know that I harbor great skepticism of many, if not most, medical studies, this one certainly catches my attention because of its impressive list of beneficial effects attributable to ashitaba.
My basic criticism of papers like this one is that, although they purport to show that ashitaba has anti-diabetic or anti-thrombotic effects (meaning, it prevents blood clots), these conclusions are almost always based on the analysis of the chemical constituents in the plant, and then the effects of these chemicals on human biochemical pathways are theorized. Although I wouldn’t say such studies have no relevance, I would much rather see studies showing what happens to a group of diabetics or people with clotting disorders who either do or don’t take ashitaba. For me, such a study would address both biology and life, rather than studying life as if it were a chemistry experiment. The reality is that the chemicals are the result of life processes, not the cause.
With that caveat, it does seem as if the ashitaba plant, the only edible plant in the Angelica family, is able to improve the metabolic functions of humans who regularly ingest it, whether in the form of fresh plant, powder or tea. “Metabolic function” refers to our ability to efficiently use food, oxygen and the abundant free energy available in our world, mostly from sunlight, and convert that into usable fuel. The more efficiently we do that transformation, the fewer waste products we produce in creating our fuel, and the healthier we are.
We need nutrients, particularly in bioavailable mineral form, to help in these transformations. Ashitaba is an abundant source of these trace minerals and chemicals, such as its well-known chalcones, which seem to catalyze the transformation of food into energy. As a result, we have more energy, feel better and seem to age less quickly.
I use about a half-teaspoon of our biodynamically grown Ashitaba Powder in my daily morning soup. We are working on creating flavorful ashitaba tea blends, so stay tuned (see how to make tea with our powder below). We are just beginning to really know this amazing gift from the plant world.
We always enjoy coming across new suggestions on how to use ashitaba. This one comes from the book "Making Plant Medicine" by Richo Cech, published in 2000 by HerbalReads.
"The growing (ashitaba) plant demonstrates an incredible life-force and vigor, and seems to impart these qualities to its medicine. Native to Hachijojima in Japan, ashitaba has been traditionally used as a rejuvenating food for at least five centuries, endowing the inhabitants of this island with good health and long life.
"This chlorophyll-rich herb contains substantive concentrations of Vitamins K, B1, B6 and B12, E and C as well as carotene, calcium, potassium and protein. When consumed fresh, these assimilable nutrients are delivered along with a great deal of dietary fiber, which helps scour toxins out of the system.
"The herb has a normalizing influence on blood pressure, blood sugar and high cholesterol. It helps repair nerve damage, cleanses the colon, and acts to detoxify the liver. Ashitaba is used in treating eczema and psoriasis, disorders of the gastrointestinal system, hepatitis, cancer, anemia and chronic fatigue. In-vivo tests have shown strong antibiotic activity against drug-resistant staphylococcus.
"Use a teaspoonful of ashitaba leaf and stem (Dr. Cowan's Garden Ashitaba Powder) stirred into one-third cup of cold water. After the powder is moistened, fill the remainder of the cup with boiling water. Stir, sip and enjoy — sludge and all."
Also check out our Ashitaba Granola recipe here
Are you foot-loose and fancy-free when it comes to cooking up a storm in the kitchen? Do you like to create your own masterpieces with tried and tested recipes? If so, you might relish this slightly healthier version of traditional Scotch eggs.
Scotch eggs were invented by Fortnum & Mason, an old-fashioned department store established in 1707 in the UK. This surprisingly simple yet delicious recipe has two main ingredients: eggs and pork sausage meat. It makes perfect picnic food, travels well, and can be eaten hot or cold.
Being in the garden is healing. Digging in the soil with bare hands and feet while soaking up the sunshine. Fresh water washing the toes via the hose. Where bees are buzzing, hummingbirds fluttering, buds a-blooming and beans are growing.