Okinawan researchers find aging retardant

Okinawan researchers find aging retardant

        Shinkichi Tawada


October 23, 2013 Takumi Takimoto of Ryukyu Shimpo

Okinawan researchers have found that liquid extracted from shell ginger contains a compound that slows aging and reduces wrinkles. Okinawan people have been consuming the liquid from ancient times. Shinkichi Tawada, professor in the Faculty of Agriculture of University of the Ryukyus and other researchers made this discovery, which they announced at the Agribusiness Creation Fair held in Tokyo.
The researchers are now applying for a patent for their discovery and Tawada has suggested that Okinawa create a sextiary sector using the flower.

When the research team compared the life expectancy of eelworms that received the liquid with those that did not, they found that the former group lived 22.6 percent longer. They published their discovery in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry this February.

In other studies, the researchers found that dehydrokawain and other compounds contained in the flower block the enzyme related to skin diseases. Okinawan people have traditionally eaten rice cake wrapped with shell ginger in winter.

Studies show that dehydrokawain prevents hyaluronic acid from degrading. The leaves, roots, seeds and stems of the flower provide essential oil, the compound and fiber. Okinawa industry will be able use them in medicines, antiseptic agents, insect repellents and papers that will help promote and create various local businesses.

Tawada said, “As the life expectancy of Okinawan people declines, we need to take another look at traditional foods. Many people see shell ginger as a raw material for cosmetics, but the flower could possibly produce health foods and medicines with a high value. Okinawa will be able to use the flower to create a sextiary sector.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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