Why is Wasabi good for us?

Wasabi has been shown (in vitro and in vivo) to have numerous benefits. Key ingredients are:

- Anti-microbial

- Anti-inflammatory

- Anti-fungal

- Anti-platelet aggregation

- Anti- asthmatic

- Chemo protective

Wasabi Japonica is a perennial herb which has been grown in Japan for many centuries. Wasabi is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family. Other members of the Cruciferous family include Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Cauliflower, Cabbage and Watercress.

Cruciferous vegetables are one of the most studied food groups with over 600 studies completed to date.

Cruciferous vegetables are characterized by their high content of stable, inactive compounds called glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are chemically stable as long as they are separated within the sub-cell compartments of the plant. When the cell wall is broken (though processing or chewing) and glucosinolates come into contact with an enzyme called myrosinase, biologically active compounds called isothiocyanates (ITC’s) are formed.

The ITC’s in Wasabi provide nutrient support for the:

- Immune system

- Inflammation system

- Hormonal system

- Detoxification system

- Anti-oxidant system

Numerous Epidemiological Studies have shown that the consumption of cruciferous vegetables protect against cancer more effectively than the total intake of fruits and vegetables. These studies have shown that Wasabi ITC’s offer some protection against cancer through several mechanisms. In vitro and animal studies have shown that wasabi ITC’s might help prevent cancer by promoting the elimination of potential carcinogens from the body and by enhancing the transcription of tumor suppressor proteins.

Cruciferous vegetables are also rich in many nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta carotene and lutein) , Vitamins C, E and K. They also contain folate, many minerals and are also a good source of fiber.

**TRADITIONAL USES OF WASABI**

Wasabi is one of the oldest traditional Japanese herbs. According to Kihara (1999) the first mention of wasabi is found in one of the oldest medical encyclopedia classics, the Honzo-Wamyo of Sukahito Fukae, which appeared in 918. Historical records indicate that wasabi has been cultivated in Japan for over 1000 years.

Excavations of archeological remains have revealed that Japanese people ate wasabi as early as the Jomon period (around 14,000 to 400 BC). Having determined its anthemintic * and sterilization effects, they ate small rooted water wasabi that grew in nearby mountain streams as medicine.

During the mid Ashikanga Era (1338 to 1573) wasabi became a ground condiment served with raw fish preparations.

It was also reserved for consumption by royalty.

Wasabi is also used in Japanese folk medicine for stomach disorders and to increase appetite. Moreover wasabi has been used as a topical treatment against rheumatism and neuralgia (Hashimoto 2010). In traditional Japanese cuisine , wasabi is prepared by grating the fresh wasabi rhizome using a sharkskin grater.

Wasabi is also used in Kampo medicine. This medicine is traditionally practiced in Japan based on ancient Chinese medicine. Wasabi is classed both as a herb and a spice. From the point of view of traditional medicine, wasabi clears phlegm in the lungs and stomach, promotes appetite and acts to relieve pain from arthritis (Wang et al @010)

**GREENHOUSE WASABI**

While wasabi has been grown outdoors for many centuries, it is now being grown hydroponically in our greenhouse. Wasabi is very difficult to grow and crop failures are common. The advantages of growing wasabi in a greenhouse are numerous. They include:

- We control all the elements…heat, humidity, CO2 levels, shade, PH, nutrients and water temperature. This helps ensure an ideal environment for the wasabi plants.

- Security is very tightly controlled. Access is restricted to a select group of key employees who must follow strict protocols which ensure the crop remains secure.

- Our greenhouse crop is not subject to extremes in weather which can damage or destroy the crop.

- It’s far easier in a greenhouse to control the many pests which can attack all vegetable crops. We employ Integrated Pest Management whereby good insects control the pests which are harmful to the plant

- Each plant is fed both water and nutrients through individual drippers. This ensures just the right amount of water and nutrients is given to each plant. This also saves water vs. conventional growing systems.

- Growing in a greenhouse means we can grow all year long which ensures continues availability.

- Greenhouses are built on land unsuitable for field production which makes better use of the land and reduces our footprint.

List of references supporting the assessment of Wasabia japonica.