But don’t worry, you don’t need to eat it.

Recently Kinin, one of the leading companies in the wasabi game, announced a startling discovery: the spicy sushi topping can regrow hair.

As someone who eats wasabi every day without fail I was quick to call B.S. on this study because despite my dietary quirks, my hairline is fading faster than my chances of becoming a Beyonce backup dancer.

However, it turns out it’s not the wasabi’s fault, it’s just that I’ve been using it wrong.

The researchers who made this discovery found that a chemical contained in the leaves of the wasabi plant called isosaponarin has the ability to awaken the papilla cells in the human scalp.

Papilla cells that come into contact with isosaponarin seem to get a new lust for life and begin responding to external stimulus that promotes hair growth. Furthermore, it also triggers the development of proteins that create pathways for nutrients that travel to the papilla cells.

▼ Wasabi leaves are chock-full of isosaponarin


This is similar to other hair growth products on the market, but researchers say that the effect of isosaponarin is three times that of commercially available hair growth products such as minoxidil.

Not only that, but 6-MSITC, the component in the rhizome (part that we eat) of the wasabi plant that gives it its pungent odor is also found to have the same effect on papilla cells. However, remember the key point is that the cells have to come into contact with these chemicals.

This means eating a whole lot of wasabi won’t get you very far, you’ll have to rub it into your head to see any kind of results. This, of course, has its own drawbacks, such as making the nose burn of everyone who comes within a meter of you. But for some it may just be worth it to get enough hair to rock a punch perm one more time.

Most who heard the news were enthusiastic.

“I’m going to the convenience store right now!”
“I’m going to tell all my bald co-workers to paint their heads with wasabi.”
“Eh, so you don’t eat it? You rub it on your head?”
“I can just rub my sushi on my head before eating it.”
“Maybe if I cut it down with water…”
“But how can you live with wasabi on your head?”

For anyone else who feels like rushing out to the supermarket, you have to remember that only Japanese wasabi contains the active ingredients reported. So those little tubes they sell aren’t likely to do it. Fresh wasabi will get the best results by far, but it’ll cost you.

Nevertheless, if you are desperate and start rubbing tubes of horseradish on your head, be sure to buy the one’s labeled, “本わさび使用” and not “本わさび入り”. By law, the latter label means that only less than 50 percent of it is actually Japanese wasabi.

Personally, I think I’ll choose balding with dignity this time around rather than rubbing pungent plantstuff on my head. I don’t have much faith in current market hair-growth products as they are, so three times an insignificant number still doesn’t amount to much.

What this does mean, however, is that anytime I go to the supermarket to buy several tubes of wasabi at a time I’ll have to face that judgmental stare of the clerk. So, if you hear someone shout, “It’s not what you think! I’m eating it!!!” in a supermarket, don’t forget to say hi.

Source: Tokyo Shimbun, Itai News
Top image: Wikipedia/Chris 73 (Edited by SoraNews24)