The ashitaba plant is used to treat digestive problems, high cholesterol and gout, but little is known about its real benefits and risks, as of 2015, reports WebMD. Certain lab studies on animals suggest that the ashitaba plant helps lower stomach acid levels.
In theory, ashitaba has the potential to treat ulcers, raise good cholesterol levels and lower levels of unhealthy fat blood cells and triglycerides, states WebMD. Some medical practitioners use ashitaba to treat constipation, hay fever, certain cancers and small pox. Nursing women use ashitaba to help increase milk flow.
Since no sufficient research exists, there is not a recommended dose for ashitaba, and the FDA does not regulate dietary substances, notes WebMD. So far, tests are only done on animals and in test tubes. Scientists theorize that it works by blocking the secretions of stomach acid and that some of the compounds work similar to antioxidants. It is important to speak with a doctor before taking supplements, especially if already taking medication.
The ashitaba plant is an herb that grows mostly in central Japan, explains WebMD. The leaf, root and stem are utilized for medicine. Fresh and dried ashitaba leaves are also used as food. Sometimes it is made into tea.