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Wasabi (Wasabia japonica)

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Also listed as: Wasabia japonica
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Allyl isothiocyanate, alpha-tocopherol, Brassicaceae (family), Cochlearia wasabi, desulfosinigrin, Eutrema japonica, Eutrema wasabi Maxim, isothiocyanates, Japanese domestic horseradish, Japanese spice, Japanese wasabi, Korean wasabi, wasabi-derived 6-(methylsulfinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate, Wasabi japonica, Wasabi japonica Matsum, wasabi leafstalk, wasabi powder, wasabi roots, Wasabia japonica.
  • Note: This monograph does not include horseradish (Armoracia rusticana), which is a common substitute for wasabi.

Background
  • The wasabi plant grows naturally along stream beds in mountain river valleys in Japan, but is cultivated in certain regions in Japan and North America. Traditionally, the root is shredded to create a pungent condiment used with fish, especially sushi. In laboratory studies, wasabi has inhibited cancer cell growth and survival. However, one wasabi constituent also promoted cancer cell growth. Wasabi has also shown anti-inflammatory activity, antiplatelet activity, and anabolic bone metabolism activity in laboratory tests. However, there is currently insufficient available evidence in humans to support the use of wasabi for any indication.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Analgesia, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-platelet agent (blood thinner), cancer, detoxification, food preservation, food uses, gastric ulcers, leukemia, melanoma prevention, osteoporosis.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older):

  • There is no proven effective dose for wasabi in adults.

Children (younger than 18 years):

  • There is no proven effective dose for wasabi in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to wasabi (Wasabia japonica) or its constituents.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Wasabi is likely safe when ingested in food amounts, based on use in Japanese cuisine. However, in the currently available literature, reports of adverse effects due to wasabi are lacking. Wasabi is commonly used for its sharp, spicy flavor, which is due to the stimulation of neurons associated with painful cold sensations. Use cautiously in patients using capsaicin-based analgesics applied to the skin, as topical wasabi may produce pain and activate the same neurons as capsaicin.
  • Wasabi may have anti-H. pylori activity.
  • Use cautiously in patients with cancer or a predisposition to cancer, those taking agents metabolized by the liver, or those with coagulation (blood) disorders.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Wasabi is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Wasabi applied on the skin may produce pain and activate the same neurons as topical analgesics, especially capsaicin-based analgesics. Caution is advised when using wasabi with other pain relieving agents applied on the skin.
  • All parts of the wasabi plant may have antibiotic activity. Thus, using wasabi with other agents that have antibacterial effects may result in additive effects.
  • Although not well studied in humans, wasabi may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Wasabi may inhibit COX-1 enzyme activity. Caution is advised in patients taking wasabi plus other anti-inflammatory agents.
  • Several constituents in wasabi have shown anticancer activity. However, the evidence is currently mixed. Nonetheless, caution is advised when taking wasabi and any anticancer agent. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, to check for interactions.
  • All parts of the wasabi plant may have anti-H. pylori activity.
  • Wasabi may interact with drugs metabolized by the liver. Caution is advised when using wasabi with other agents that may are metabolized by the liver, or that are potentially liver damaging.
  • Extracts from wasabi leafstalk (Wasabi japonica Matsum) may have an anabolic effect on bone metabolism. Caution is advised when taking wasabi with selective estrogen receptors modifiers (SERMs), hormonal agents, or biophosphonates.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • All parts of the wasabi plant may have antibacterial activity. Thus, using wasabi with other herbs that have antibacterial effects may result in additive effects.
  • Although not well studied in humans, wasabi may inhibit platelet aggregation increasing the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking herbs or supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto.
  • Wasabi may inhibit COX-1 enzyme activity. Caution is advised in patients taking wasabi plus other anti-inflammatory herbs.
  • Several constituents in wasabi have shown anticancer activity. However, the evidence is currently mixed. Nonetheless, caution is advised when taking wasabi and any anticancer agent. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, to check for interactions.
  • Based on laboratory study, all parts of the wasabi plant may have anti-H. pylori activity.
  • Wasabi applied to the skin may produce pain and activate the same neurons as capsaicin and Cannabis sativa.
  • Wasabi may interact with herbs metabolized by the liver. Caution is advised when using wasabi with other agents that may are metabolized by the liver, or that are potentially liver damaging.
  • Extracts from wasabi leafstalk (Wasabi japonica Matsum) may have an anabolic effect on bone metabolism. Caution is advised when taking wasabi with phytoestrogens or hormonal herbs or supplements.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Bautista DM, Movahed P, Hinman A, et al. Pungent products from garlic activate the sensory ion channel TRPA1. Proc Natl.Acad.Sci U.S.A 8-23-2005;102(34):12248-12252.
  2. Hinman A, Chuang HH, Bautista DM, et al. TRP channel activation by reversible covalent modification. Proc Natl.Acad.Sci U.S.A 12-19-2006;103(51):19564-19568.
  3. Hou DX, Fukuda M, Fujii M, et al. Transcriptional regulation of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate: quinone oxidoreductase in murine hepatoma cells by 6-(methylsufinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate, an active principle of wasabi (Eutrema wasabi Maxim). Cancer Lett 12-20-2000;161(2):195-200.
  4. Jordt SE, Bautista DM, Chuang HH, et al. Mustard oils and cannabinoids excite sensory nerve fibres through the TRP channel ANKTM1. Nature 1-15-2004;427(6971):260-265.
  5. Morimitsu Y, Hayashi K, Nakagawa Y, et al. Antiplatelet and anticancer isothiocyanates in Japanese domestic horseradish, wasabi. Biofactors 2000;13(1-4):271-276.
  6. Nabekura T, Kamiyama S, Kitagawa S. Effects of dietary chemopreventive phytochemicals on P-glycoprotein function. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2-18-2005;327(3):866-870.
  7. Nomura T, Shinoda S, Yamori T, et al. Selective sensitivity to wasabi-derived 6-(methylsulfinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate of human breast cancer and melanoma cell lines studied in vitro. Cancer Detect.Prev. 2005;29(2):155-160.
  8. Shin IS, Masuda H, Naohide K. Bactericidal activity of wasabi (Wasabia japonica) against Helicobacter pylori. Int J Food Microbiol. 8-1-2004;94(3):255-261.
  9. Watanabe M, Ohata M, Hayakawa S, et al. Identification of 6-methylsulfinylhexyl isothiocyanate as an apoptosis-inducing component in wasabi. Phytochemistry 2003;62(5):733-739.
  10. Weil MJ, Zhang Y, Nair MG. Colon cancer proliferating desulfosinigrin in wasabi (Wasabia japonica). Nutr Cancer 2004;48(2):207-213.
  11. Weil MJ, Zhang Y, Nair MG. Tumor cell proliferation and cyclooxygenase inhibitory constituents in horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) and Wasabi (Wasabia japonica). J Agric.Food Chem 3-9-2005;53(5):1440-1444.
  12. Yamaguchi M. Regulatory mechanism of food factors in bone metabolism and prevention of osteoporosis. Yakugaku Zasshi 2006;126(11):1117-1137.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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