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Perilla Stem (su geng)

What is perillal stem? 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 stems are usually picked and gathered in the summer or autumn. They are dried naturally, and used raw in herbal preparations.

In traditional Chinese medicine, perilla stem has sweet and warm properties, and is associated with the Lung, Spleen and Stomach meridians. It promotes the circulation of qi in the chest and diaphragm, which helps to relieve distention and pain in the chest and abdominal region. It is usually combined with cyperus and tangerine peel as part of a larger herbal formula. For pregnant women, perilla stem is also used as a traditional remedy for morning sickness.

How much perilla stem should I take?

The typical dose of perilla stem is between 3 and 10 grams, decocted in water for oral administration. Perilla stem should not be boiled for an extended period of time, however, or the herb will lose much of its potency.

What forms of perilla stem are available?

Whole, dried perilla stems are available at some herbal shops and Asian markets for use in teas and decoctions. Powdered perilla stem is also available at some locations. It should be preserved in a dry place that has good ventilation.

What can happen if I take too much perilla stem? 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 stem; nor are there any known drug interactions with perilla stem. Women who are pregnant should use perilla stem only under a health care provider's supervision. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care practitioner before taking perilla stem or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


  • Ihara M, Umekawa H, Takahashi T, et al. Comparative effects of short- and long-term feeding of safflower oil and perilla oil on lipid metabolism in rats. Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol October 1998;121(2):223-31.
  • Nagatsu A, Tenmaru K, Matsuura H, et al. Novel antioxidants from roasted perilla seed. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) May 1995;43(5):887-9.
  • Narisawa T, Fukaura Y, Yazawa K, et al. Colon cancer prevention with a small amount of dietary perilla oil high in alpha-linolenic acid in an animal model. Cancer April 15, 1994;73(8):2069-75.
  • Okuno M, Kajiwara K, Imai S, et al. Perilla oil prevents the excessive growth of visceral adipose tissue in rats by down-regulating adipocyte differentiation. J Nutr September 1997;127(9):1752-7.
  • Suzuki H, Ishigaki A, Hara Y. Long-term effect of a trace amount of tea catechins with perilla oil on the plasma lipids in mice. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1998;68(4):272-4.
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