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You May Have Heard of the Japanese Plant Ashitaba, but Do You Know of Its Health Benefits?

The edible plant known as Angelica keiskei, or ashitaba, is native to Japan and has been touted for its health benefits. According to WebMD, some of the chemical properties contained in the ashitaba plant seem to work as antioxidants, while other chemicals could block the secretion of stomach acid, and it has been used in the treatment of several conditions, including heartburn, constipation, gout, and fluid retention.

Although the publication notes that there is not enough research on the plant's effect on humans to determine if it is safe, it has been used in traditional Japanese medicine for centuries — although the Ashitaba Plant website notes that it has been kept a secret, one that the rest of the world has only recently become aware of. Medical News Today notes that it has long been thought that eating the ashitaba can promote a long and healthy life. In addition to the aforementioned uses, the plant has also been making headlines for its anti-aging properties.

The plant is thought to contain a powerful flavonoid known as 4,4'-dimethoxychalcone (DMC), which can aid cellular health and protect against age-related damage. The compound has been used in several experiments, including the effect on yeast cells, mouse heart cell, and the effects of different types of human cells, which had a positive outcome. However, Medical News Today notes that researchers still need to conduct further clinical studies.

"The experiments indicate that the effects of DMC might be transferable to humans, although we have to be cautious and wait for real clinical trials,” Professor Frank Madeo, Ph.D. said (via Medical News Today).

So, the question remains; could the ashitaba plant help fight off age-related diseases and effects? While early research seems to suggest that this is a possibility, it is, unfortunately, too early to draw conclusive results.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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