Perilla is a genus a herb that is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae. Perilla lives and grows in mild climates throughout the world although it is mainly grown in India and East Asia. In North America, Perilla is increasingly commonly called by its Japanese name, shiso, and in Nepal and parts of India, it is called silam. The leaves of Perilla resemble stinging nettle leaves, and it’s essential oils produce a strong taste that is comparable to mint or fennel. It is considered rich in minerals and vitamins, and has very important anti-inflammatory properties and immune modulatory actions which are thought to help preserve and sterilize foods.

Historical Medicinal Uses of Perilla

In traditional Chinese medicine (called Kampo medicine in Japan) herbal remedies have been utilized empirically for thousands of years for the treatment of a wide variety of clinical disorders. Preparations such as Hange-Koboku-to, Yoku-Kan-san, Saiboku-to (which contains Perilla), and Kami-Kihi-to, for example, have been historically prescribed for clinical depression, anxiety-related disorders such as anxiety neurosis, insomnia, and anxiety hysteria, as well as for thrombotic stroke and gastrointestinal complaints. Saiboku-to, one of the most popular of these Chinese herbal medicines, has been shown in laboratory experiments to be effective for the treatment of asthma and allergic disorders. Evidence from studies also show that Saiboku-to is able to relieve anxiety and nervous tension.

Medical uses of Perilla

Perilla assists in the management and relief of the symptoms of allergy/atopy and associated inflammation, respiratory and skin manifestations resulting from an increase in aspects of the immune system that drive allergies (the Th2 immune cells). Perilla supports immune function, to help reduce the duration and symptoms of hayfever, and allergy (Th2 dominant conditions), and enhances antimicrobial activity (Th1 immune cells). The natural antioxidants in Perilla also act to decrease the risk of cell damage attributable to free radicals caused by allergies and asthma.

Perilla reduces allergic symptoms
In a scientific study that investigated the anti-allergic action of Perilla, the effects of Perilla were compared to those of other chemicals (including the anti-inflammatory drug prednisolone) that reduce allergies. Results from the study showed that the inhibition of the inflammatory response associated with asthma by Perilla, was almost the same as that of prednisolone (without the dangerous side effects) because it inhibited histamine release. Perilla was also shown to be a promising agent for the prevention of allergic inflammatory disease .

Perilla inhibits inflammation

Oral administration of the Perilla leaf extract inhibits inflammation, allergic response and allergic oedema. The anti-inflammatory actions of Perilla leaf are due to the ability of the active constituent luteolin, to inhibit the potent inflammatory chemicals TNF-a and aracodonic acid .

Perilla Inhibits Histamine

Perilla seed flavonoids (such as luteolin) have been found to inhibit histamine release from mast cells stronger than the potent anti-histamine drug sodium cromoglycate. Inhibitory activities of additional Perilla constituents rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid against histamine release were slightly more potent than sodium cromoglycate.

Reducing inflammation

Inflammation is present in many medical conditions, including arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease and most skin conditions. The anti-inflammatory activity of Perilla appears to be related, at least in part, to its ability to both induce secretion of the body’s own anti-inflammatory chemical corticosterone, while also potentiating its anti-inflammatory activity. This is an example of how herbs work with the natural healing properties of the body.

Luteolin inhibits Th2 dominance and enhances Th1 cells

People who suffer allergic conditions have too much of one type of immune cells (Th2) and not enough Th1 cells. Like a see-saw, as one goes up, the other goes down. Bronchitis is associated with Th1 (the cells that kill viruses and cancer cells) insufficiency and Th2 excess. Research demonstrates that treatment with Perilla can achieve a 75% increase in cell mediated Th1 immunity in patients with chronic bronchitis. The major symptoms of cough, asthma, sputum and wheezing were effectively alleviated by treatment with Perilla (120mg/day), with a total response rate of greater than 90% . Asthma is a Th2 dominant inflammatory disease of the airway, characterised by airway hyper-reactivity. Administration of Perilla, at a dose of 0.1mg/kg body weight, for people with hyper-reactive airways significantly relieved bronchoconstriction and bronchial hyper-reactivity. Luteolin administration reduced Th2 immunity and increases Th1 cells .

Pregnancy warning

This herb should only be taken during pregnancy under close professional supervision because, while there are no listable side effects noted for Perilla, it potentially may alter immune status and therefore may be detrimental to pregnancy.

Therapeutic/safe dosages of Perilla

The most commonly recommended therapeutic dosage for Perilla is 3,000-4,000 mg per day and the usual therapeutic dosage of 1:1 fluid extract of Perilla is 3-4 ml per day. Studies have found that short and long term consumption is beneficial for the treatment of all of the benefits listed above. Doses of up to 10 grams have been taken for extended periods of time (months) without adverse effects. It has been traditionally prescribed at this dose however; as Western herbs contained concentrated (standardised) components, it is prudent not to exceed 4g per day.

Other herbs that can be used with Perilla

As with many herbs, combinations can be used to add to the therapeutic value. The following is a list of herbs that can be prescribed with Perilla to boost its therapeutic properties:

  • Astragallus. This brilliant herb is very good for normalising the immune system, reducing Th2 cells, increasing Th1 cells, and for the treatment of chronic illness and allergies.
  • Panax Ginseng. This is one of the most widely-researched herbs around and is excellently suited for anyone with allergies and asthma. It is also an anti-inflammatory and immune boosting herb.
  • Echinacea. This well-known herb for the treatment of colds and flu’s should also be the herb of choice for anyone with infections. One of the ways Echinacea works is by boosting the Th1 aspect of the immune system, which (like a see-saw) pushes down the Th2 immune cells, which reduces allergies.
  • Ginkgo biloba. One of the great herbs for the brain, Ginkgo is also excellent for the treatment of asthma and allergies. It reduces the release of mucus and is excellent for the treatment of asthma.
  • Andrographus. This herb can be used in similar situations to Echinacea and combines well with the before mentioned herb. It is also great for people who suffer from allergies and persistent infections.


Perilla is a highly popular herbal medicine for those who need to reduce inflammation in the body or for people suffering from allergic conditions such as eczema, bronchitis, asthma, and dermatitis. Perilla is probably one of the best herbs for the treatment of excessive mucus with allergies. Whilst it is generally regarded as a safe herb, as with all herbs, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine your individual requirements. Please avoid this herb during pregnancy as reducing Th2 (and increasing Th1) can be detrimental to the foetus.

This article was written by Stephen Eddey and appeared in Vol 3 Issue 28.

The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only. It is not provided to diagnose, prescribe or treat any condition of the body. The information on this website should not be used as a substitute for medical counselling with a health professional.

All material on The Art of Healing website should be used as a guide only. Information provided should not be construed or used as a substitute for professional or medical advice. We would suggest that a healthcare professional should be consulted before adopting any opinions or suggestions contained on this website. In addition, whilst every care is taken to compile and check articles written for The Art of Healing for accuracy, the Publisher, Editor, Authors, their servants and agents will not be held responsible or liable for any published errors, omissions or inaccuracies, or for any consequences arising there from. In addition, the inclusion or exclusion of any treatment or product in editorial or advertising does not imply that the Publisher advocates or rejects its use. With respect to article submissions, these are invited but it should be understood that the Editor reserves the final right to edit all articles for length and content prior to publishing. The content, arrangement and layout of this site, including, but not limited to, the trademarks and text, are proprietary to The Art of Healing, and should not be copied, imitated, reproduced, displayed, distributed, or transmitted without the express permission of The Art of Healing. Any unauthorised use of the content, arrangement or layout of the site, or the trademarks found in the site may violate civil or criminal laws, including, but not limited to, Copyright © The Art of Healing. All Rights Reserved.