Also known by the names of Shiso or Egoma, Perilla frutescens is an aromatic plant of Asian origin similar to basil and mint, which has heart-shaped leaves with a jagged edge and a scent reminiscent of anise and lemon balm.

The flowers, white / pink and ear-shaped, also recall those of the common basil and develop in late summer.

In Europe it is also called " Japanese basil " because in traditional oriental cuisine it is one of the typical ingredients for the preparation of sushi and sashimi.


This plant is rich in iron and vitamin C , substances of great help to support the immune system in case of bronchial asthma, bronchitis , colds and coughs; it is no coincidence that the Asian herbal tradition makes extensive use of it, also extracting an oil rich in beneficial properties from its seeds.

The oil also contains high amounts of vitamin E , but above all Omega 3 and Omega 6 , polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs ) known for their ability to promote the synthesis of anti-inflammatory molecules and counteract the synthesis of "bad" cholesterol.

Because of the high content of these molecules, in fact, the consumption of perilla oil is indicated to rebalance the LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, keep the cardiovascular system in good health and keep the skin young and elastic .

Thanks to the presence of antioxidants it is also considered an important ally for the prevention of oxidative stress caused by free radicals and in the prevention and treatment of allergies and flu. In allergies , in particular, its ability to inhibit the production of histamine makes it useful for relieving manifestations of asthma, rhinitis, urticaria, dermatitis and eczema.

In fact, Perilla frutescens acts as a natural antihistamine , without causing the typical drawbacks of synthetic ones such as drowsiness and poor concentration. Therefore it is often recommended as a homeopathic remedy for the treatment of seasonal allergy .

Its mechanism of action consists in the reduction of allergic inflammation, by reducing the formation of Immunoglobulin E , a type of antibodies involved in the immune response and present at high levels in allergic reactions.


The perilla is also cultivated as an ornamental plant and offered as food to many species of granivorous and omnivorous birds. Canaries, siskin, goldfinches and barrel organ are fond of perilla seeds and leaves. The consumption of these parts, in fact, is especially useful to them during the moulting period and the formation of the new plumage.


The leaves , rich in tannins and phenolic compounds , go well with oriental preparations of sauteed vegetables or wrapped in puff pastry or tempura; they are in fact widely used in Japan and China as a condiment in salads and fish -based preparations.

The well-dried seeds are used instead as a garnish on bread , like poppy seeds.

In well-stocked nurseries you can find Chinese basil seedlings and their green leaves are perfect for preparing a very intense flavor pesto .

The leaves and flowers can also be dried and used as tea or as a spice to enrich sauces, sauces, risottos and omelettes.