Herbs & Botanicals

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Perilla Leaf (su ye)

What is perilla leaf? What is it used for?

The perilla is a purplish plant that grows throughout east Asia, especially in the hills and mountains of China and Japan. It can reach a height of approximately two feet, with scented flowers that bloom in July and August. Different parts of the perilla are used for different conditions. This article discusses the use of perilla stem; perilla seed and perilla leaf are discussed elsewhere.

Perilla leaves are spade-shaped and ridged, and range in color from dark green to purple. Like the stems, perilla leaves are harvested in the summer and autumn, and allowed to dry in the air before being used in herbal remedies.

Perilla leaves are warm and acrid, according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, and are associated with the Lung and Spleen meridians. Its functions are to dispel wind cold and regulate qi. Traditionally, perilla leaves are used to treat colds, stuffy chests and abdominal pain, to stop stomachaches and diarrhea, and to prevent coughs. Occasionally, they are used to treat morning sickness. In addition, perilla leaves can be used with other herbs to treat food poisoning caused by eating bad seafood.

How much perilla leaf should I take?

The typical dosage of perilla leaf is between 3 and 12 grams, decocted in water. When creating a decoction, perilla leaves should be boiled no longer than 10 minutes.

What forms of perilla leaf are available?

Crushed, dried perilla leaf can be found at many herbal shops, Asian markets and specialty stores. Powdered perilla leaf is also available in some locations.

What can happen if I take too much perilla leaf? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

As of this writing, there are no known side-effects from taking large doses of perilla leaf, nor are there any known drug interactions. Women who are pregnant should use perilla leaf only under a health care provider's supervision. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care practitioner before taking perilla leaf or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


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