Umeboshi Plum: A Miracle Pickle from Japan

  • Published on October 14th, 2014

Umeboshi Plum: A Japanese Miracle Pickle

Umeboshi plum is a traditional Japanese pickle that has amazing healing properties. Discover why it’s beneficial and how to use umeboshi for digestive and other health issues.

A few weeks ago, after I did a monthly vegan cooking demo at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, I went to the lounge to have a cup of tea, where somebody walked up to me and asked if I knew any good food for a stomach virus.

The first thing that crossed my mind was umeboshi plum, a salt pickled plum from my country, Japan.

Related: Vegan Substitute for Fish Sauce, Fish Paste, and Anchovies: Umeboshi, Healing with the Ancient Wisdom of the Far East, Natural Cold & Flu Remedy: Tomato Tea

The person who asked the question pointed at the young man sitting across from him, and said, “It’s him”. Obviously, something was not right with this young man, breathing heavily and sweat on this forehead. I sat next to him and asked what happened.

The man told me that his problems started about a month ago, no idea how or why. He went to see a doctor who told him that it could be a stomach virus (not really sure,though), and just gave him antibiotics. (antibiotics for virus!?)

Apparently, the treatment wasn’t helping him, and he’d been suffering from severe diarrhea the whole month, and losing weight (which he wasn’t that unhappy about, he later said).

I briefly explained umeboshi plum to him.

Umeboshi plum has a powerful antiseptic effect and has been used as a natural remedy for food poisoning and other digestive problems for centuries in Japan.

The man  said he’d like to try it. Unfortunately I don’t carry umeboshi plum around with me, so I suggested that we meet the next day and I’d make some teas for him with this pickle.

I prepared two types of tea using umeboshi plum.

One is ume concentration, which has even stronger effect on viral and bacterial infection.

Then, to restore overall energy and immune system, I made umesho bancha tea.

The following day, he texted me and said, “Diarrhea stopped!”

What is umeboshi?

Umeboshi, a salt pickled plum, has this distinctive flavor of “sour and salty.” This unique combination, citric acid and salt, is the very reason why umeboshi plum has powerful virus-killing effects and the ability to keep harmful bacteria at bay.

Japan is very humid – it has more than twice the precipitation than US. Yet the Japanese eat raw fish & meat. They must have developed ways to protect against food poisoning and other viral/bacterial infections.

Umeboshi plum is one of them.

Umeboshi has many other amazing health benefits, and Japanese people still use it as “cure-all” medicine for various symptoms in everyday life.

Umeboshi plum is called “King of alkaline,” and it supposedly neutralizes acidic condition of your body. In fact, it can be taken as a “natural antacid” for heartburn and acid reflux. It’s helpful after consuming strong acid-forming food such as sugar, meat, dairy, and alcohol to balance it out. Umeboshi is also said to have been a secret for samurai warriors for quick recovery after intense battles.

Its strong citric acid is found to neutralize lactic acid, a main cause of muscle pain after a vigorous exercise, or just fatigue in general. A substance called mumefral in umeboshi plum is found to help cleanse the blood and promote better circulation.

Adiponectin – a hormone in this pickle – is found to stimulate the secretion of insulin and fat burning in the body. This hormone is also used in medicine for diabetes. Umeboshi also has antihistamine effect, which may help relieve allergies.

For headaches, you can eat half an umeboshi plum and put the other half on your temple for a while.

Umeboshi has also been commonly used to prevent or relieve cold & flu symptoms in Japan.
And many more health benefits!

As the holiday and cold and flu seasons approach, I’d strongly recommend that you have umebosh plum i in the kitchen as your “multi-purpose remedy.”

Notes + Basic Umeboshi Recipes

Get umeboshi plum from health food stores such as Whole Foods, not from Japanese grocery stores. They contain too many additives and no health benefit.

For healing purpose, you can put 1/2 to 1 umeboshi plum directly into your mouth (remove pit) or put one in a tea cup, pour 1/3 cup of hot water or kukicha tea, and drink and eat.

For cooking, you can use this salty-sour flavor for dressing or as delicious seasoning for other dishes.

If you have high blood pressure and other serious conditions, please consult with your physician before trying umeboshi or any other alternative remedy.

photo credit: 顔なし via photopin cc


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About the Author

Jin Hirata, from Japan, is currently living in NYC. While he works as a holistic counselor, healing chef, & Shiatsu-Reiki practitioner, he is also a self-proclaimed “Miso Missionary”, who works to spread the power of miso and taught how to make miso soup to hundreds of people in USA. His practice is based on Macrobiotics, a principle of yin-yang balance, with which, he strongly believes, “you can turn your health and life around!” Find him on his website www.wholelifewithjin.com , face book https://www.facebook.com/jin.hirata or farmer’s markets in NYC and everywhere else he travels. (and please say hi! )