Perilla is a herb of the mint family, which grows in Eastern Asia, including India, China and Japan. It exists in purple-leafed and green-leafed varieties. Typically, it is associated with Japanese cuisine, where it is most commonly known as shiso.
Uses of Perilla:
Perilla oil is used in Asia as food flavorings in candies and sauces and for medicinal purposes. It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and its leaves are used as a condiment for tofu and as garnish for tempura. Its leaves can be use as a garnish in many Asian cuisines, such as salads, soups and sushi dishes.
Health Benefits of Perilla:
1. Beneficial to Asthma Sufferers
A study which was published in the June 2000 edition of “International Archives of Allergy and Immunology” studied the effects of perilla seed oil on asthma patients, proving that it helps increase lung function as stated in Livestrong.com.
At the end of the four weeks study, the patients taking the oil noticed a notable increase in lung capacity and enhanced air-flow capabilities. The exact mechanism of action is not known, but researchers stated that perilla seed oil benefits asthma patients, because the ALA it contains suppresse the production of leukotriene, an inflammatory substance linked with reduced respiratory function.
2. Ease Intestinal and Stomach Discomfort
Petilla leaf is essential for this function because it contains rosmarinic acid, flavonoids and caffeic acid. Research has shown that perilla can help improve passage of gas, rumbling, bloating and the feeling of fullness.
The effect is seen right after starting to take an extract through prokinetic. It helps strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter, therefore preventing acid reflux. It is also antispasmodic, therefore preventing and decreasing cramping effects.
3. Improve Mental Health and Mood
Research has shown thath the isolation of apigenin, caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid from the leaves of perilla have been identified as having anxiolytic and antidepressive properties, through optimizing dopaminergic mechanisms. Also, inhalation of the essential oil of Perilla has shown antidepressant-like activity because its affect on the nervous system.
4. Prevents Heart Disease
Perilla oil has been known to prevent coronary heart disease and help decrease the risk of blood clot to people who use it instead of soybean oil as proven by research. It thus prevents strokes and heart attacks. Also, the antioxidant and omega-3 rich perilla seeds help decrease oxidized the bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol , which is the basis for atherosclerosis.
5. Reduces Inflammation
Perilla seeds are a great source of omega 3 to 6 fatty acids or the healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, commonly known as PUFAs. If you compare Perilla to other plant oils, it contains one of the higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, including that of chia seeds.
This is very important because most individuals have an imbalance in the omega 3 to 6 ratio and have too much omega 6, which gets inserted in the cell membranes, therefore promoting increased inflammation and abnormal clotting.
6. Skin Lightening
Perilla leaves extract has been known to inhibit melatonin and tyrosinase synthesis in mice melanoma cells, therefore suggesting potential applications for skin lightening.
Where to Find Perilla?
Look in Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese supermarkets. Also, it can be found in some health food or vitamin stores, offices of Chinese medical practitioners and online.