A recent Japanese study discovered a new unique natural compound in the Ashitaba plant, which helps protect cells and delay ageing in various species and in human cells, reported Daily Mail.

Led by Professor Frank Madeo, a research team at the University of Graz in Austria, detected a compound called 4,4′-dimethoxychalcone, otherwise known as DMC, in the leaves of the plant.

It works by propagating a “cleansing and recycling” process in cells, which gets ride of unwanted cells that could allow diseases to build up.

The team started off the tests by noting how the substance affected yeast cells. They discovered it helped protect the yeast cells from the effects of ageing. 



The team then tested DMC’s effect on the cells of worms and fruit flies. Remarkably, the tests concluded that the substance helped prolong their lifespan by approximately 20 per cent.



In additional tests carried out on mice, it showed the compound helped protect cells in mice hearts through autophagy, a process the body cleans out damaged cells and regenerates new ones.

“This is a cleansing and recycling process,” Professor Madeo said. It removes “superfluous material, especially cellular garbage like aggregated proteins”.

The team then tested DMC’s effect on various types of human cells and discovered the substance helped to slow ageing by preventing senescence – the deterioration of cells which are unable to divide or leave the body. 

“The present work identifies the flavonoid 4,4′-dimethoxychalcone (DMC) as an anti-ageing compound with cardioprotective effects in mice and the potential to promote longevity across species,” the authors said. 

“The experiments indicate that the effects of DMC might be transferable to humans, although we have to be cautious and wait for real clinical trials,” Professor Madeo said. 

Researchers believe that this is a step towards identifying new anti-ageing therapies which don’t require people to stick to loathsome diets and habits.

The Ashitaba plant, has its origin rooted in a country almost 10,000 kilometers away from Austria. Japan is where the plant originally comes from. The plant was part of the diet of the country’s ancient warriors, the samurais. The plant is fairly common in Japan and its bitter leaves have been considered extremely healthy by the people of the country.