Scientific name: Actinidia polygama Maxim
Part used: Leaf
Principal Use: Heart Disease Prevention
Principal Actions: Anti-oxidant, cardiovascular tonic, anti-cancer agent
History and Traditional Uses of Matatabi
Matatabi is a deciduous, tree like vine, native to the Asian continent and the Islands of Japan. A close relative of the Kiwi vine, it grows wild in the highlands. It bears small white flowers in summer and small fruits in summer. The entire plant has been used in traditional Japanese medicine, and some of its uses are quite curious.
Long ago the Japanese people discovered that the leaf of the Matatabi vine drives cats crazy. When put into toys, cats play with them excitedly, slobbering, writhing, and dancing about in a strange state of heightened alertness. The herb induced performance is called the Matatabi dance. The dance is similar, but more extreme, to that which occurs when cats are exposed to catnip. Research has established this peculiar feline reaction is caused by volatile oils found in the leaves. Matatabi is more than a source of fun, it is used as a health stimulant for sick cats. As an infusion or powder, it is used to speed the recovery of ailing felines.
The medicinal use of this plants parts do not stop here. The Matatabi fruit is sometimes attacked by an insect that lays its eggs in the fruit. The result is highly abnormal fruits. Asians collect these infested fruits in the autumn, dip them in hot water to kill larvae inside, and dry them in the sun for use in medicine. These fruits are highly esteemed in
Traditional Chinese Medicine and are used as a heart tonic, circulatory stimulant, diuretic, analgesic and an aphrodisiac. They are used to treat cold extremities, abdominal pain, beriberi, hypertension, arthritic pain, sciatic pain, rheumatism, kidney disease, cystitis, and cancer. However, these fruits are considered powerful medicine and are not recommended for self medication. They are rich in alkaloids which can be dangerous in high doses and should only be used when prescribed by a medical practitioner.
In traditional medicine, the Matabi leaves are said to have the same activity as the fruits, though milder in action due to lower alkaloid content. This cultural belief is well founded. Contemporary research reveals that they contain low alkaloids levels and are therefore can be used without the concern one might have around using the fruits.
In recent days, research has revealed the leaf of the Matabi vine can prevent a host of diseases. Indeed, long used as a domestic remedy to treat various conditions, it looks like the future of this remedy is going to be keeping people well.
The Science of Matatabi Leaf
Glycosides, Volatile oil( actinidin), Chlorophyll, Fiber, Vitamins and minerals: Vitamin C, E., calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, carotenoid.
Natural Vitamin Tablet
Scientific research has found Matatabi leaves to contain many active constituents which can prevent disease. Specifically, they are considered an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. It might be seen as natures own vitamin tablet. The leaves are processed in the same fashion as is famous health preserving green tea. Raw leaves are ground into a powder, freeze-dried, and then steamed. The end product is a powder rich in vitamin C, E, beta carotene, fiber, chlorophyll, polyphenols, flavonols, and minerals (iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium).
Many of the constituents found in Matatabi are known to be anti-oxidant and to have the capacity to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals have been found to contribute to aging and to damage cells. In fact, the free radical caused cell damage leads to cancer, atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. All and all, a healthy supply of anti-oxidants is one way to keep the body well and Matatabi leaves are an excellent source of anti-oxidant.
Matatabi powder contains ten times the vitamin C found in green tea. Interestingly, research has revealed that the amount of vitamin C in Matatabi is drastically increased (thirty times) by steaming at 100C for 15 seconds.
Matatabi contains as much vitamin E as is found in soy beans. It contains comparable amounts of beta-carotene as is found in carrots.
Animal research has established Matatabi to have additional health stimulating effects:
• In animal experiment Matatabi tea reduced high cholesterol levels in small animals given normal and high fat diets. Blood tests showed the amount of cholesterol and triglyceride were remarkably suppressed in the mice given Matatabi tea.
• Matatabi teas was found to activate liver function. The liver is responsible for managing blood fat levels.
• Matatabi was found to inhibit the spread of cancer in small animals implanted with cancer cells. This suggests it may act as an immune stimulant as well as an anti-oxidant.
• Matatabi stimulates the liver to remove toxic chemicals which can cause cells to mutate or become cancerous.
People are living longer today. The problem is not everyone is living well as they age. The prospect of facing a retirement age riddled with disease is unpleasant to most, and to avoid this, many are taking action today to be well tomorrow.
In the contemporary world, the focus of medicine is shifting away from cure and towards prevention. Matatabi has been established to prevent disease and keep people well.
Indeed, it has a specific activity in heart disease prevention which should be of interest to those at risk. Either those with heart disease in the family or those with a lifestyle which is likely to end in a heart attach should think about using this to maintain their health!
The same is true for those with cancer in the family or those in a high risk group for cancer development.
Research has shown that it is a benign substance and can be safely used in large quantities. The safe dose is said to be 80 grams per 50 kg of body weight!
1) Hidetoshi Sakurai : Research on the Antihyperlipemic Effects of MATATABI Leaves (1999)
2) Hidetoshi Sakurai : Sanrin 13(72) 34-45 (1998)
3) Mituo Mizuno, Toshihiro Tanaka : Japanese medicinal herbs (1995) Shin-Nihon-Houki
4) Tsunetomo Matsuzawa, Yoshihiko Amano, Masako Yokoyama, Kenzi Kohno : Nihon Eiyou Syokuryou Gakkaishi
Disclaimer: The author makes no guarantees as to the the curative effect of any herb or tonic on this website, and no visitor should attempt to use any of the information herein provided as treatment for any illness, weakness, or disease without first consulting a physician or health care provider. Pregnant women should always consult first with a health care professional before taking any treatment.