Research on the Effects of Ashitaba, Angelica Keiskei Koidzumi
By Dr. Kevin Lance Jones, L.Ac., O.M.D.
Little is known about the world of Herbal Medicine. Of all the plant species in the world, only five percent (5%)
have been cataloged. Of that five percent that have been cataloged, a full one quarter (1/4) or tweet - five
percent (25%) have medicinal qualities. There is the example of Taxol, an anti-uterine cancer drug that is derived
from the bark of the Yu tree.
Another shinning example of a newly discovered herbal medicine is ASHITABA. Its name literally translates to
"Early Growth" in Japanese. It was named so because of its ability to grow very fast and exhibit a strong Qi or
energetic life force.
What is Ashitaba?
Ashitaba is indigenous to a small area called the Seven Islands of Izu. It is a herbaceous plant that grows year
round. This greenish yellow vegetable has been mentioned in many ancient Japanese Medical Writings. It has been
consumed as a vegetable and medicine for many hundreds of years by the local island herbalists. Ashitaba
contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, proteins and plant fiber. This powerful strain of Angelica was unknown
until recently. Only a few islanders knew of this herb and kept it a guarded secret.With the coming of the
information age, news of this healing plant began to reach beyond the Seven Islands of Izu. The leaves and stems
are used to extract a yellowish liquid from the plant.
The Properties and Therapeutic Uses of Ashitaba
In this section I will endeavor to explain the therapeutic actions of Angelica Keiskei Koidzumi or Ashitaba in terms
of Traditional Chinese Medicine as practiced currently in the People's Republic of China. One of the fundamental
actions of Ashitaba is that it is great at activating Qi and Xue (Blood). The application for this is apparent in the
treatment in the menstrual problems. It removes stagnation in the uterus, which will help with many menstrual
difficulties. It also increases blood flow (activates Qi and Blood). This herb, which can be used by it self alone,
increases Kidney Yin and Yang Qi.
The increase of the Kidney Yang Qi will act as a diuretic and increase the urine output. In Japan, Ashitaba is used
to treat hypertension. As a diuretic it has no side effects such as western medicines frequently have. It increases
the libido (sex drive) for those persons with Kidney Yang Xu (deficiency). In terms of the increase in Kidney Yin Xu
(deficiency), this herb is wonderful in treating the problem of Peri- menopause. With a Kidney Yin Xu (deficiency)
one of the cardinal symptoms in women is irregular or no menstruation. The usual four to six years of peri
menopause that women in their middle forties to early fifties in age experience could be made much more
comfortable with the use of Ashitaba. Because this herb warms the uterus, it is very useful in treating menstrual
cramps and pain, regardless of the age of the patient.
Ashitaba is a useful Lactagogue, that is, an agent which induces the secretion of mother's milk. There is
anecdotal evidence from Japan of a cow that was fed Ashitaba and had record milk production. By analogy,
Ashitaba could be used with mastitis or low milk production after delivery.
Ashitaba harmonizes the Spleen and Stomach. It helps to balance the Earth element. There is a patient in Texas
that has Insulin- Dependent Diabetes that is currently taking the herb. He says that he now has to use less
Insulin because his blood sugar no longer spikes with attacks of Hyperglycemia. Another Diabetes patient in Japan
took Ashitaba for six months and his blood sugar level droped from 400 mg./dL to 150 mg./dL. Dr. Baba at Osaka
University School of Pharmacy has published a paper showing the decrease of the rate of acid production in the
stomach with Ashitaba. In her paper he also showed a decrease in the severity of stress related to stomach
ulcers. The extract of Angelica Keiskei Koidzumi also exhibited an anti-bacterial action.
Research in Japan has shown that Ashitaba has anti- viral properties. At a 1993 Pharmacology Forum in Japan, it
was reported that A a demonstrated antiHIV activity.
The Active Factors in Ashitaba
Chalcones are the active factors in Angelica Keiskei Koidzumi. The two that are in Ashitaba are known as
Xanthoangelol and 4- Hydrooxyderricin. These were discovered by Dr. Baba. These factors are found only in this
strain of Angelica and are derived from the yellowish liquid extract of the leaves and stems. This differentiates it
from any other strain of Angelica.
Types of Angelica
The Angelica Family has a history as a medicinal herb and health food since ancient times in both China and
Japan. In Mainland China and Taiwan the root of the Angelica Senesis has been popular for thousands of years
and is frequently called the "Woman's Ginseng." Ashitaba, has an anti- viral property that is not present in Dang
Gui (Tang Kuei). The Ashitaba extract is a gentler medicine that can be taken frequently and at bed time without
the stimulating effect that Dang Gui has, especially on women. Because it is gentler, it can be tolerated better by
peri- menopausal women.
Cancer Research and Ashitaba
Dr. Toru Okuyama at Meiji University, College of Pharmacy tested Ashitaba on mice with tobacco- induced lung
cancer and skin melanomas. In this six month study the skin cancer mice were given an external application of the
Ashitaba extract. The article stated that the cancer was controled-with this therapy. In the tobacco- induced
lung cancer the mice were given the extract of Ashitaba in fluid and food form. The article stated that the lung
cancer progression stopped with the oral Ashitaba therapy.
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