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Wasabi Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

By Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, MSc

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Wasabi is a plant native to Japan and a small region in China. It usually grows on the bank of mountain streams rich with sediments and gravel. It can grow in other moist swampy areas but with a lower concentration of substances.

The plant is known for its extremely spicy flavor, similar to hot peppers or pepper, and specific flavor similar with horseradish, but much hotter. The part of the plant that is used is the root; the rest of the plant also has beneficial properties in the development of very useful medicine, especially the leaves.

From the roots of Wasabi, a condiment is made by cutting it into small pieces then turning it into a fine green paste. Drying and grinding the root will produce a powder that has diminished taste and properties but can still be used with a smaller effect.

Because of its extremely spicy flavor, the plant was thought to have miraculous powers like protecting the consumer from the harm of poisons and other similar elements and extend their life. Medicinal use started as early as the culinary one, being used in strengthening the body. The medicinal properties were later confirmed through scientific studies which turned it into one of the most popular oriental plants today.

Wasabi Functions & Benefits

The most common usage is in the culinary art, as a condiment rich in flavor, which gives the consumer a unique spicy experience. It is very tasty in recipes that include fish products or seafood. The flavor is proportional with the freshness of the root, as it is a very pretentious plant where preservation is concerned. After it has been prepared in the specific sauce, it has to be consumed in a maximum of one hour before it loses its taste and flavor. The roots can be stored for a maximum of thirty days.

Wasabi contains a high amount of antiseptic substances, which help inhibit and kill various numbers of bacteria in different stages of development; this makes it a very useful treatment method in any stages of the disease caused by microbes.

The roots of the Wasabi contain a high amount of nutrients and vitamins, ranging from B complex, vitamins A and C, and other beneficial mineral compounds, which make it a very healthy food during treatments or for preemptive approaches.

Digestive problems and ulcerations of the stomach can be treated using Wasabi, as it helps by stimulating the mucous development and strengthens the metabolism, as well as fighting the bacteria responsible for the development of the disorders. This was very useful for the native environment of the plant because people have a diet rich in seafood and similar products with a high risk of intoxication.

Having such high antibacterial property, Wasabi is very useful in treating the causes of teeth decay and similar disorders. It can be consumed traditionally or through derived compounds; a healthy periodic consumption will diminish the chances of having any damage done to the teeth by bacteria.

The plant can be used in the treatment of asthma and allergies, having a strengthening effect on the immune system, at the same time helping as an anti-clotting agent, which improves the chances of managing the disorders.

The anti-clotting properties of the plant make it a very good candidate when battling heart conditions and stroke possibilities, especially in the case of seniors. Periodic consumption is also recommended for the most potent effects.

The most interesting effect that Wasabi seems to have is inhibited the development of cells to cancerous state in any stages, even early ones. However, it is not confirmed as being a remedy; it can only improve the chances at a cellular level. Further investigations are needed.

In the case of diabetes, it seems that the plant can improve the disorder, and it may even produce an alternative to insulin, but this potential use is still under development and it seems to work only for type 2 diabetes.

Wasabi seems to have a very beneficial effect on cellular development. It is extremely rich in antioxidants, so it also helps in preventing or reducing cellular decay. In the case of pregnancies, it helps improve the growth of the bone structure and the way the body assimilates calcium.

One of the most unusual benefits of the plant is in the development of a very efficient alarm system for deaf people, in the case of fire, by using Wasabi vapors in a certain concentration that can wake people from their slumber, making them aware of the danger.


Having antibiotic properties, it can produce adverse effects when combined with other substances usually found in medication, so if you are under treatment with any known antibiotics, ask your doctor before consuming wasabi.

Because of its very spicy flavor, it can cause allergic reactions to people who have allergy disorders, or it can cause one if consumed in high quantities. Moderate consumption is recommended, no matter the circumstances.

Because the plant has certain compounds that make the blood thinner, any interactions with similar medication are not recommended, as it raises the risk of bleeding in combination with an anti-coagulation property that can drastically worsen the problem.

It is popularly known that Wasabi clears the nose tract, but the effect is exactly the reverse: high quantities of Wasabi vapors in the nasal cavity can obstruct them, and people may experience difficulties in breathing.


Fresh Wasabi roots can be found mostly in Japan. As the plant is very hard to conserve, it needs special conditions for the flavor and the properties to be preserved. This is why the price of the plant is very high in other countries. The most popular place where it can be found is Sushi restaurants, as it is one of the main sauces used in cooking it.

The ground powder can be found in local markets, as it is preferred for its resilience to transport and storage conditions, and also because it is the primary form used in making derived compounds as toothpaste.

Certain replacements similar to the original plant can be found around local markets but they do not have the same potency as the one from Japan, and none have the distinct taste. The most popular replacement for Wasabi is horseradish.