Many identify Wasabi as a flavoring agent that is popularly used in Japanese foods such as sushi and sashimi. In fact, wasabi is an herbal plant that is naturally seen growing near cold rivers in Japan. The demand for this herbal plant is quite high in other parts of the world. It is believed that true wasabi plants can rarely grow in other parts of the world as to thrive successfully the plant requires a special mix of natural conditions that are found only in Japan.
To meet the high demand of Wasabi in the market, the plant is grown under artificial conditions in the USA, and also is imported from countries like China. As a natural flavoring agent, Wasabi is hot and has a strong flavor. In some restaurants, artificial wasabi is made by mixing horseradish, mustard and green food coloring. Wasabi enriched toothpastes are also available in the market.
What is Wasabi?
Wasabi is botanically known as Wasabia japonica and Eutrema japonica. The herbal plant belongs to the Brassicaceae family that also includes cabbage and horseradish as its members. Other common names of wasabi include – Japanese horseradish, Bergstockrose and Namida.
As a plant, Wasabi can reach up to a height of 30 cm and has small white colored flowers. In herbal science, the rhizomes of Wasabi are used for preparing medicines.
How does it work?
Wasabi contains Allyl isothiocyanate, which is a chemical that is responsible for its strong flavor and medicinal actions. The herbal plant is also rich in fiber, carbohydrates and protein.
The following are the herbal benefits of Wasabi:
Wasabi is anti-microbial in nature and can be used to destroy harmful bacteria. It is said that the herb is often sprayed on raw fish to kill certain bacteria that may cause digestive disorders in humans. The leaves and stems of Wasabi are used to prepare anti-bacterial remedies.
The anti-inflammatory properties of Wasabi are controversial in nature. While some believe that the herb may cause respiratory congestion, others think that the paste of the herb can protect the body from inflammatory conditions. The herb is popularly used to clear clogged sinuses and blocked nasal passages.
Wasabi is also used to solve digestion complaints like diarrhea and poor appetite. The herb is used as a digestive stimulant.
Anti Cancer Actions
Wasabi is known for its anti-oxidant actions and its ability to promote liver health. It is believed that a healthy liver can prevent cell mutations in the body that are responsible for causing cancer. The isothiocyanates present in the herb have anti-cancer activities as seen in related vegetables like cabbage and broccoli.
There is no standard recommended daily dosage for Wasabi. The herbal plant can be eaten in food amounts.
Wasabi may trigger allergic reactions in some. Avoid the herb in people using capsaicin based analgesics.
Wasabi is a popular Japanese herb that is sprayed on Sushi and is used extensively in Japanese steakhouses. However, real wasabi is costly and rare to find. The herbal plant is known for its extreme antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory actions.
Wasabi may interact with the following – capsaicin-based and other types of analgesics, anti-coagulants and anti-inflammatory drugs.