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Shiso (Perilla frutescens)

P. ocimoides. L.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Perilla frutescens

A drying oil obtained from the seed is used in making paints, varnishes, water proofing etc[46, 57, 105, 171, 238].

The plant yields 0.3 – 1.3% essential oil, which contains 20% citral[240]. It is used as a food flavouring and in dental products[238].

  • Medicinal Use

    The leaves, stems and seeds of shiso are often used in Oriental medicine. It is a pungent, aromatic, warming herb that is antibacterial, antidote, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitussive, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, emollient, expectorant, pectoral, stomachic and tonic[116, 147, 174, 176, 218, 238].

    The leaves are used in the treatment of colds, chest stuffiness, vomiting, abdominal pain etc[176]. The juice of the leaves is applied to cuts and wounds[272].

    The seed is antiasthmatic, antitussive, emollient and expectorant[176]. It is used internally in the treatment of asthma, colds and chills, nausea, abdominal pain, food poisoning and allergic reactions (especially from seafood), bronchitis and constipation[218, 238].

    The stems are a traditional Chinese remedy for morning sickness[238].].

    This herb should be avoided by pregnant women[222].

  • Edible Use

    Edible young leaves and seedlings – raw or cooked[46, 116, 178, 183]. The flavour is strange to western palates at first, some people detecting cinnamon, others coriander or citrus[206]. Seedlings are added to salads, older leaves are used as a garnish or flavouring[206]. Older leaves are also salted and used as a condiment for tofu and as a garnish for tempura[183]. Leaves from purple cultivars are used to colour preserved fruits[238]. The leaves can also be dried for later use[206]. The leaves contain about 3.1% protein, 0.8% fat, 4.1% carbohydrate, 1.1% ash[179].

    Immature flower clusters are used as a garnish for soups and chilled tofu[183]. Older flower clusters are fried and eaten[183].

    The seeds are preserved in salt or are used as a spice in pickles, tempura and miso[183, 206]. They are one of the ingredients in ‘Shichimi’ or ‘seven spice’ mixture[206]. The seed can also be eaten cooked[105, 178]. Seeds from purple-leafed forms of the plant are preferred for culinary use[238]. The seed contains about 21.5% protein, 43.4% fat, 11.3% carbohydrate, 4.4% ash[179].

    An edible drying oil is obtained from the seed[46, 171, 183, 272]. It is rich in linolenic acid[57].

    The plant yields an essential oil which is used as a food flavouring in candies and sauces[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    There have been cases of toxicity, including dermatitis, pulmonary oedema, respiratory distress and even death following ingestion by cattle and horses[274].

Cultivation & Habitat

Surface-sow or only lightly cover the seed in mid spring in a greenhouse. The seed germinates best at 20¡c, though it also succeeds at slightly lower temperatures[206]. Germination is usually quick, prick out the seedlings into trays or individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer[200, K]. Give the plants some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away well. The seed has a short viability and should be used when less than a year old[206].
Prefers a light soil[1, 206]. Requires a rich well-drained moisture-retentive soil in full sun[200]. Plants require a well-drained soil but do not need particularly fertile soil[206]. Prefers an acid soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6[206]. The plant is not frost hardy and requires temperatures above 18¡c if it is to grow well[206]. The plant requires short days in order to flower[206]. Shiso is often cultivated in the Orient as a food flavouring. There are some named varieties, those with purple leaves being preferred for seed production[183, 206, 238]. Shiso is also cultivated for the oil obtained from its seed[50, 171]. It is sometimes used in sub-tropical bedding schemes in Britain[1].
E. Asia – China, Japan, India.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.