There's no mistaking its beautiful, vivid blue hues. Fondly referred to as "Japan Blue," clothing and accessories soaked in Japanese indigo dye (藍 ai in Japanese)—a technique known as 藍染 aizome—have been made in Japan since ancient times. Originally used to impart the rich blue color to silk, kimonos and other textiles, the traditional art lives on in the modern era and can be found in everything from jeans, sweaters, bags, wallets and even smartphone cases.

However, the usefulness the Japanese indigo plant (Persicaria tinctoria) isn't limited to the color it can produce. For centuries, while Japanese craftsmen were carefully harvesting and fermenting its seeds to make the prized indigo dye, the leaves and stems were also collected, dried, and put aside for use as tea.

JunAi Inc., a company which has specialized in making tea and other health products from natural Japanese indigo since 2014, is confident in Japanese indigo's health benefits. Recent studies have shown that polyphenols in the tea have an antioxidant effect, and can be useful in suppressing an increase in neutral fat and cholesterol levels in the blood. According to the press release, it has also been the subject of recent attention for its anti-inflammatory properties and its potential effectiveness against influenza and other viruses.

Gentle indigo throat drops

Now, JunAi Inc. has launched throat drops called 藍のやさしいのど飴 ai no yasashii nodo ame, meaning "gentle indigo throat drops."

Made with a concentrated extract of Japanese indigo from Shimane Prefecture, powdered indigo from Tokushima Prefecture, ginger extract and domestic sugar, these throat drops are a safe and healthy way to get the benefits of the plant while also soothing your throat.

JunAi Inc. does not have an online store, but you can find these throat drops at pharmacies and shops all over Japan, as well as a few online retailers. For example, they are currently available at Aizome Zabo's online shop, selling for 385 JPY + tax for a 60-gram bag of individually wrapped throat drops.

By - Ben K.