Ashitaba has its origins on the Island of Hachijo (volcano Island which belongs to Seven Islands of Izu) where the warm tropical currents pass by on their way North to meet the cold Arctic waters of the Pacific. It has been consumed as a vegetable and medicine for many hundreds of years by the local island herbalists. Ashitaba has another name called “Tomorrow leaf” refers to an interesting botanical fact. If its leaves are picked in the morning, new leaves will be in place by the next morning. This is due to its ability to reproduce its green stem and leaf almost on a daily basis. “Tomorrow’s Leaf” is very popular in Asia for its medicinal properties. Entire plant of Ashitaba is used.
Asitaba’s scientific name called Angelica keiskei Koidzumi, derived from the Latin word “Angel,” because of its mystical, highly praised effects. The population of Hachijo Island is known for their longevity, living until the ripe old age of 90’s. When all aspects of their life style were analyzed the determination was that the consumption of Ashitaba was a heavy contribution to the extended lifetime. As more study was conducted on the composition of this special strain of angelica, Ashitaba has been attracting more and more attention from the scientific community.
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. Anyhow, recent studies in Japan and US show that Ashitaba rich in highly potent antioxidant – chalcone. Donald Buhler and his colleagues at Oregon State University discovered that the minute amount of chalcone present in hops was six times as potent as those antioxidants found in citrus fruits, almost four times as potent as those in soy and two times more potent than those of green tea.