The Secret History of Wasabi
What’s that spicy greens stuff that comes with sushi?
If you said, “wasabi,” you’re… probably wrong. Most sushi restaurants serve you processed horseradish root with some green food coloring thrown in.
True wasabi, Wasabia japonica, is a rare delicacy that’s only served in high-end restaurants and markets. And it has a long and storied history both as a flavorful ingredient and as a natural medicine.
A TRULY SPECIAL PLANT
Wasabi grows naturally along the rocky beds of clear mountain streams, originally only in small sections of Japan (though it has now spread to several other countries). It’s a beautiful plant, with pungent, heart-shaped leaves the size of small dinner plates set atop long and graceful stalks. It blooms with delicate white flowers starting in late winter and lasting into early summer, like snowflakes that refuse to melt.
True wasabi is also still incredibly hard to cultivate. Even though humans have been growing it for over 400 years, we still haven’t figured out a way to reliably produce large quantities of wasabi. The plant requires exact conditions to thrive, and it takes years to grow to a harvestable size—which makes true wasabi an expensive and hard-to-find ingredient.
In fact, Your Wasabi Farms is one of the first farms to successfully grow true wasabi outside of Japan. But we don’t grow it to use in food—we cultivate wasabi for use as a medicinal supplement.
The wasabi plant also has a long history of medicinal use. It first showed up in a Japanese medical text over 1,000 years ago, and over the centuries it’s been used as a folk remedy for all sorts of conditions (as well as to promote general good health and well being).
It’s also believed that wasabi was first paired with raw fish in order to help fend off food poisoning, and because its pungent smell helped mask the fishy aroma (and, of course, because fish and wasabi just taste so good together).
Wasabi is probably best known for its ability to clear up stuffy sinuses (and make your eyes water, if you eat too much of it!) but the same unique chemical compounds that trigger that reaction have been shown to have a whole host of other benefits for your body.
Today, it’s known to be a powerful antioxidant, which lends credence to its historical role in medicine where it has been used to promote healthy liver function, reduce inflammation, and even fight cancer.
Some studies show that wasabi does indeed have natural antimicrobial properties. It’s been linked to antibacterial and anti-parasitic applications, providing some scientific evidence to back up its traditional use in making raw fish safe to consume.
These antimicrobial properties, are just a part of what makes wasabi such a powerful health supplement. As mentioned above, it’s been shown to work as an anti-inflammatory agent, and has been used to help reduce joint pain and the symptoms of arthritis. These same properties help make it a popular choice as a digestive aid, to settle stomachs and reduce feelings of post-meal bloatedness.
NEW SCIENCE MEETS ANCIENT HISTORY
Today, science and technology have made it possible to grow true wasabi more efficiently than ever before, opening up access to the plant’s benefits for people all over the globe. But that wasn’t always the case.
In fact, wasabi used to be so rare that it was accepted as a form of currency for paying taxes in feudal Japan. At one point in history, its sale was even restricted so that only members of Japan’s uppermost class could purchase it. If you ever need a silver lining to your day, just remember how lucky you are to live in a time where you don’t have to be related to the shogun to have wasabi!
At Your Wasabi Farms, our goal is to provide anyone, anywhere, with genuine wasabi for their health. We grow all of our own plants in our advanced greenhouse, utilizing space that would otherwise be unfarmable. We process the plant to create a high-potency powder, which we then form into capsules for convenience.
These wasabi capsules make it possible for you to explore the health benefits that have been popular in Japan for generations. It’s a scientific approach to traditional folk medicine, and it’s the absolute easiest way to get your hands on true, natural wasabi.
(That is, unless you live next to a pure mountain stream.)