A genus of six species of aromatic annuals, with erect, four-angled stems, which occurs from India to Japan. Perilla frutescens is widely grown as a culinary herb in E Asia and is increasingly popular as an ornamental for summer bedding. It is similar in appearance to coleus (Solenostenum species). Plants with curly leaves were once described as a separate species., P. crispa, but are now regarded as a cultivated variety. Volatile oil in the leaves of P. frutescens contains perllaldehyde, which is 2000 times sweeter than sugar and up to eight times sweeter than saccharin. The seed oil is high in lineolic acid. Perilla has been used medicinally in China since c.CE500. Both green- and purple-leafed forms (sometimes referred to as green shiso and red shiso) of P. frustescens are used for culinary purposes, but seeds of purple-leafed variants are preferred for all uses.

Perilla, an herb from the mint family that is relatively common in East Asian countries, is an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Recent research suggests that perilla oil may be able to inhibit abnormal blood clotting, alleviate chronic inflammation, and prevent certain types of irregular heartbeat. Japanese dental researchers has also found that perilla seed extract combats streptococci and other bacteria that can cause cavities and periodontal disease.

Vigorous, strongly aromatic, branched annual with broadly ovate, pointed, mid-green, sometimes purple-flecked or -flushed leaves, to 12cm (5in) long, which have toothed margins and distinct veins. Tiny white to violet-pink flowers appear in spikes to 10cm (4in) long in summer, followed by pale brown nutlets.

Common Name:
Other Names:
Beefsteak Plant, Shiso, Wild Coleus
Botanical Name:
Perilla frutescens
Himalayas to Japan; naturalized in parts of N America
Well-drained, moist, fertile soil in sun or partial shade. Pinch out growing tips to encourage bushiness.
By seed sown at 13-18°C (55-64°F) in spring.
Leaves are cut in summer and used fresh or pickled, or dried for decoctions. Stems are cut when young in summer, or after the plant has gone to seed. Ripe seeds are collected in autumn and dried for decoctions.
60cm-1.2m (2-4ft)
30-60cm (12-24in)
Var. crispa
syn. Var. nankinensis

Has deeply cut, crinkled, bronze-purple leaves and pink flowers. Very variable.
syn. Ao Shiso

Has bright green, ginger-flavored leaves and an cinamon aroma. Preferred for salads and garnishing.
Green Cumin
Has grren, cumin-flavored leaves and a cinnamon aroma. Used fresh or dried.
Has green, red-backed leaves and compact flower spikes, harvested before flowering when 7cm (3in) long.
Is a Korean cultivar with large green leaves, to 15cm (6in) long, lacking cinnamon aroma of Japanese varieties. Eaten raw, cooked, or used for wrapping meat before cooking.
Purple Cumin
Is like 'Green Cumin' but with ruffled purple leaves.
syn. Aka Shiso

Has strongly flavored red-purple leaves, used to flavor and color pickles.
Parts Used:
Leaves (zi su ye), stems (zi su geng, su gen), seeds (zi su zi, su zi), flower spikes (hojiso), oil.
A pungent, aromatic, warming herb that relaxes spasms, increases perspiration, and is effective against bacterial infections. It is also laxative, expectorant, and controls coughing.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for colds and chills, coughs, rheumatism, bronchitis, asthma, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, food poisoning, and allergic reactions, especially from seafood (seeds). Stems are a traditional Chinese remedy for morning sickness.
To treat chills, headache, fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Typical Dose:
A typical daily dose of perilla is approximately 10 to 20 gm of oil.
Possible Side Effects:
Perilla's side effects include nausea, vomiting, and allergic reactions.
Drug Interactions:
Taking perilla with these drugs may increase the drugs effects:
Beclomethasone, (Beconase, Vanceril)
Betamethasone, (Celestone, Diprolene)
Budesonide, (Entocort, Rhinocort)
Budesonide and Formoterol, (Symbicort)
Cortisone, (Cortone)
Deflazacort, (Calcort, Dezacor)
Dexamethasone, (Decadron, Dexasone)
Flunisolide, (AeroBid, Nasarel)
Fluorometholone, (Eflone, Flarex)
Fluticasone, (Cutivate, Flonase)
Hydrocortisone, (Anusol-HC, Locoid)
Loteprednol, (Alrex, Lotemax)
Medrysone, (HMS Liquifilm)
Methylprednisolone, (DepoMedrol, Medrol)
Prednisolone, (Inflamase Forte, Pred Forte)
Prednisone, (Apo-Prednisone, Deltasone)
Rimexolone, (Vexol)
Triamcinolone, (Aristocort, Trinasal)
Culinary Uses:
Fresh leaves are eaten in salads and used for garnishing or wrapping meats prior to cooking. Pickled leaves are used as a garnish or condiment. Red (purple) leaves are used to color and flavor pickled umeboshi plums, ginger, and Chinese artichokes. Seeds are sprouted for salads or salted as a condiment for Japanese raw fish, bean curd, tempura, and pickles. Immature flower spikes are used raw for garnishin, or fried as a vegetable.
Economic Uses:
Oil from foliage is used in sauces, tobacco, candy and dental products. Oil from seeds (yegoma) is used in waterproofing and in the paper, printing, and paint industries.
Prolonged skin contact with perilla may cause dermatitis.
Encylopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright ©: 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited pp 307-308
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pg 367