Scientific Name(S): Perilla frutescens (L.) Britt. Family: Lamiaceae
Common Name(S): Beefsteak plant, perilla, wild coleus
Botany: The broad oval leaves are reminiscent of the leaves of the common ornamental coleus. It is widely cultivated in the Orient.
History: The leaves and seeds of perilla are eaten in the orient and form part of the native Japanese dish known as "shisho." Dried leaves are used as components of herbal teas. The seeds are expressed to yield an edible oil. This oil is also used in commercial manufacturing processes for the production of varnishes, dyes and inks. The leaf oil has a delicate fragrance and is used in food flavoring.
In oriental folk medicine, the plant has been used as an antispasmodic, to induce sweating, for asthma treatment, to quell nausea and to alleviate sunstroke, among other uses.
Uses of Perilla:
Perilla has been used for food flavoring and may be useful for the management of certain allergic disorders. Preliminary research suggests that perilla may also have beneficial antilipemic effects and potential cancer-protective activity.
Side Effects of Perilla:
Perilla may cause dermatitis.
Toxicology: The volatile perilla oil contains aldehyde antioxide, which has been used in the tobacco industry as a sweetener, however, this compound may be toxic.
Perilla ketone is a potent agent for the induction of pulmonary edema in laboratory animals. Animals grazing on the plant have also developed pulmonary edema and respiratory distress. This ketone is chemically related to the toxic ipomeanols derived from moldy sweet potatoes. Intravenous doses of this compound can result in death secondary to pleural effusion and edema. The ketone acts by increasing the permeability of endothelial cells and does not appear to require the presence of cytochrome P-450 to increase vascular permeability.
Dermatitis has been reported in perilla oil workers and patch testing suggests that 1-perillaldehyde and perillalcohol contained in the oil are responsible for the effect.
Summary: Perilla oil is a valued product for both food flavoring and commercial applications. Preliminary evidence suggests that the oil may have beneficial antilipidemic effects and potential cancer-protective activity.
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