Umeboshi plum is a traditional Japanese pickle that has amazing healing properties. Discover the benefits of umeboshi plum 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.
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 (of course, we know that antibiotics don’t work for viruses, only bacterial infections).
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 simple yet profound pickle from Japan.
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, “My diarrhea has stopped!”
What is umeboshi?
Umeboshi, a salt pickled plum, has a distinctive flavor of sour and salty. This unique combination is due to citric acid and salt, and 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.
Why is umeboshi so magical?
The strong citric acid is found to neutralize lactic acid, which is a main cause of muscle pain after a vigorous exercise, or can help combat fatigue in general. A substance called mumefral in umeboshi plum is found to help cleanse the blood and promote better circulation.
Adiponectin is a hormone in this pickle, and has been 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. 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, as many Japanese brands contain too many additives and no health benefit. You can also buy umeboshi on Amazon. For healing purpose, you can put 1/2 to 1 umeboshi plum directly into your mouth (remember that there is likely a plum pit hiding inside), or put one plum in a tea cup, pour 1/3 cup of hot water or kukicha tea, and drink and eat – this is called umesho bancha tea– click for the recipe. Another alternative is using ume paste, which might be easier than using the whole plum, and can be easily mixed into teas and other sauces.
For cooking, you can use this salty-sour flavor for dressing or as delicious seasoning for other dishes. Ume vinegar is another way to enjoy the flavor of this Japanese staple, although the vinegar (technically a brine) doesn’t have the healing power of the plums themselves.
If you have high blood pressure and other serious conditions, please consult with your physician before trying umeboshi or any other alternative remedy.