Ashitaba is well known as a longevity herb because of its strong life force-if its leaf is plucked today, a new one will sprout tomorrow. Ashita means tomorrow and ba means leaf in Japanese. Native to Japan’s Hachijo Island, ashitaba has a long history of use as food and medicine by the island’s inhabitants. The story goes that Hachijo Island was used as a place of exile for convicts during the Edo period, and despite hard labor and poor diets, the convicts lived long lives. Their unlikely longevity was attributed to the continual consumption of ashitaba for which they foraged.
A wide variety of powerful phytochemicals and antioxidants can be found in ashitaba. They have cancer-inhibiting effects and speed up the body’s removal of waste products and harmful substances. These include flavonoids, coumarin, chlorophyll, and chalcones. In fact, many of the benefits of ashitaba can be attributed to its content of chalcones (a yellow pigment).Ashitaba also has powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties to help fight infections. In addition, ashitaba is very beneficial for maintaining cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health.