The healing power of wasabi

There are two forms of wasabi. The first is wasabi made from the root of the wasabi plant. This produces a spicy sauce of high quality, but this sauce does not keep for a long time. In practice, an imitation form of wasabi is used; a mix of the leaves of wasabi, horseradish, mustard and radish. That is a type of wasabi whose taste is very similar to wasabi made from the root. The mix of mustard, horseradish and radish tastes slightly sharper. Leaf green is used as a green dye. As far as the medicinal value is concerned, that of the pre-packed tube version will be a lot less than that of the real wasabi that is freshly prepared in the kitchen and has a shelf life of 25 minutes without a lid. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing wasabi / Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons (PD)


  • General information wasabi
  • Will the real wasabi please stand up?
  • Wasabi and horseradish
  • Wasabi works against cancer
  • Wasabi fights heliobacter pylori
  • Wasabi against food poisoning
  • Wasabi, good for the teeth
  • Other medicinal effects of wasabi

General information wasabi

The Latin name for wasabi is Eutrema japonicum . Wasabi is originally only found in Japan and grows wild in swamp areas and along rivers. The plant grows to a height of 60 to 75 centimeters and has white flowers. The root of wasabi is mainly used. Fresh wasabi is the only real wasabi. Wasabi from the supermarket contains other ingredients that taste similar to wasabi. Supermarket wasabi mainly contains horseradish, mustard, radish and green food coloring. This wasabi may taste good, but the real wasabi tastes even better.

Will the real wasabi please stand up?

The taste of real wasabi is completely different from the imitation wasabi from a tube. This imitation wasabi contains close relatives of wasabi such as horseradish and mustard, tastes somewhat chemically, saltier and is one and a half times as sharp as wasabi. Real wasabi tastes sweet, is softer and you taste a mild “green” natural flavor. Of course it is nice and spicy, but not that sharp. The taste of real wasabi disappears after 25 minutes. After grating, an oxidation process begins; Due to reaction with oxygen, the wasabi root loses its typical taste. You can fix the spiciness by wrapping the grated wasabi in plastic foil and storing it in the freezer immediately after preparation or by mixing mayonnaise, oil, butter, chocolate and/or ice cream. Real wasabi is sold, but in a completely different way than the tube version. The Dutch company wasabi4you packs wasabi in moist muslin and ships it on an ice pack in a thermo box. Storage advice is included. Wasabi can be kept for at least two weeks if kept in a damp muslin cloth and cool, without covering.

Wasabi and horseradish

Wasabi and horseradish are similar in a number of ways. There are allyl isothiocyanates or AITC in both vegetables that are served more as a sauce or spicy addition. AITC is also known by its name

Fresh wasabi in a Japanese restaurant / Source: Danaimge, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

mustard oil; These substances are also contained in mustard, just like mustard, wasabi is a cruciferous vegetable. The AITC stops fungi and bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Both the leaves and the roots of both plants can be eaten for their medicinal properties. Both plants have peroxidase activity. Peroxidase is an enzyme that reacts with hydrogen peroxide and lipid peroxide and these reactions play an important role in preventing diseases. Scientists do not yet know exactly how peroxidase works. In addition, both horseradish and wasabi exhibit good antioxidant activity; free radicals that can cause disease are neutralized. `

Wasabi works against cancer

Both wasabi and horseradish have been shown to help prevent cancer. Scientific research shows that these plants neutralize carcinogenic substances in fish and meat. It’s safe to say that both wasabi and horseradish benefit overall human health. A study on rats shows that rats who drank water with the AITC N-methyl-N’-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine added to wasabi caused stomach cancer tumors to disappear. Various cancer cell lines, including breast cancer, leukemia and skin cancer, are combated by substances in wasabi. Furthermore, it appears that wasabi fights cancer cells in several ways. That offers a lot of hope for a new medicine or nutritional supplement for cancer. One of the ways in which wasabi fights cancer is that certain AITC triggers the sudden death of a cancer cell, apoptosis. By the way, most research into wasabi comes from Japan or Korea; From a scientific point of view, it is desirable for scientists from other regions of the world to also conduct research into the anti-cancer effect of wasabi.

Wasabi fights heliobacter pylori

The heliobacter pylori bacteria can cause diseases such as gastritis, heartburn, stomach pain, stomach ulcers and inflammation of the stomach mucosa and duodenum. The bacterium is linked to some forms of stomach cancer. Wasabi fights this bacteria. AITC in the roots and leaves in particular is the substance that combats the heliobacter pylori bacteria. Both Japanese and Korean wasabi have bacteria-fighting properties. A Korean study conducted in 2004 shows that the leaves work more effectively than the root.

Eutrema japonicum aka wasabi / Source: EverJean, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-2.0)

Wasabi against food poisoning

In a study comparing bananas, coriander and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower for their effectiveness against E.coli bacteria, wasabi emerged as the best. It also works against staphyloccus aureus. E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus are bacteria that can cause food poisoning. In this case too, the AITC proves to be particularly effective.

Wasabi spray could perhaps be used as a substance to create a fire alarm for the deaf. In one study, a deaf person woke up 10 seconds after being sprayed with a wasabi spray. When the spray is sniffed it has a stimulating effect.

Wasabi, good for the teeth

In the year 2000, a scientific study was presented during a conference in Honolulu showing that wasabi works well for cavities in the teeth. Due to its high AITC content, it can effectively fight bacteria in the mouth. The development of cavities can be stopped. For this purpose you don’t need to put wasabi from a tube on your toothbrush, you can just eat it!

Other medicinal effects of wasabi

  • Research shows that AITC not only has an anti-cancer effect, but that it also prevents platelet aggregation. This means that platelets are less likely to clump together; wasabi is a natural blood thinner.
  • Wasabi appears to lower histamine levels; this results in less inflammation. This appears to have particularly beneficial effects on the skin and skin diseases. Scientific research shows that hairless mice with an itchy skin disease are less likely to scratch if they receive a treatment with wasabi.
  • Scientific research shows that fewer fats are produced in the body if a little wasabi is eaten daily. The research was done on mice, but it is likely that the same applies to humans; Researchers say wasabi may be a good anti-obesity drug.
  • Research on animals shows that wasabi reduces scratching behavior in animals; that can be a big relief for people with eczema.
  • Bone density is increased if a lot of wasabi is eaten, at least according to preliminary research on animals.