International Committee Shiso


1. Name of Plant: Shiso

2. Scientific Name: Perilla frutescens var. acuta Kudo

3. English Name: Beefsteak plant, purple mint, Japanese basil

4. Other Names: Akajiso (red shiso)

5. Family: Lamiaceae Genus: Perilla

6. Similar Western Herb: None

7. Habitat and Distribution:
Originated in South-Central China. Introduced to Japan in ancient times and cultivated throughout nation.

8. Botanical Description:
Grows 20-40cm tall, has upright stems that branch well and wide-spread. Has many small labiate flowers in July-August and the flowers at the end of branches are racemiferous (app.1).

9. Parts Used: leaves, top branches (app.2)

10. Crude Drug Name: Soyo(蘇葉 [sōu yihp])

11. Five Flavours, Four Natures: acrid, warm (app.3)

12. General Remarks:
In Japan, Shiso is known for its refreshing aroma and colour and widely used for culinary purposes, such as a condiment and a coloring for Umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum). It appears in 「名医別録 (Appendices for Miscellaneous Records of Famous Physicians), a textbook on 365 herbs written in the 5th century under the name of 「蘇 [so]」(app.4). There are some variant species such as Chirimenjizo (P.f. var. crispa Decne) and Aojiso (P. f. var. acuta Kudo forma viridis Makino). However, only red-purple shiso (Akajiso) and Chirimenjiso are used as medicinal herbs (app.2). In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it supposed to work for「解表 (jiěbiǎo : relieving external symptoms such as chill or runny nose by letting bad energy [邪気] out from the surface of body)」or「理気 (Lĭ qì : accelerates slow flow of energy in body)」. It is also used as an ingredient of a medicine for stress symptoms. As a folk remedy, it has been used for common cold with diarrhea because of its detoxifying power (app5). Recent studies have revealed that Shiso is having antibacterial, antipyretic, and sedative properties. As of late, Shiso’s antihistaminic action is focused and benefits in hey fever, asthma, atopic dermatitis are in prospect (app.6). The seeds contain high α-linolenic acid, and the research of serum lipid decrease or anti-inflammatory action are in progress (app.7).

13. Chemical Components(app.2):
Essential Oil: perilla aldehyde (unique aromatic component), l-limonene, α-pinen, β-pinen, linalool, caryophyllene, α-farnesene
Anthocyanin: shisonin
Flavonoide: apigenin, luteolin
Others: caffeic acid, rosmarinic acid

14. Medicinal Uses:
For common cold, take 6-10 (one-day dose) shiso leaves, add 200ml water and simmer until it becomes half. Divide it in 2-3 potions and drink it (app.1).

15. Contraindications:
Early symptoms (esp. gastrointestinal) of common cold, allergic symptoms.

16. Safety Measures (app.8, 9):
・It is suggested to be safe when taken orally in an appropriate dose.
・As for use in pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid its intake more than normal food intake because there is insufficient information on the issue.
・External use possibly causes contact dermatitis.

1. Okada, Minoru. ed. 2002. “Makino Japanese and Chinese Medicine Pictorial Book” (『牧野和漢薬図鑑』Makino Wakanyaku Zukan), Hokuryu-sha.
2. Society of Japanese Pharmacopoeia ed. 2006. “The Japanese Pharmacopoeia XV”, Hirokawa Shoten.
3. Araki, Seiji. 1972. “Shin Koho Yakuno” (『新古方薬嚢』)Hojutsu Shinwa Kai.
4. Namba, Tsuneo. ed. 2002. “Dictionary of Japanese Chinese Medicine”(『和漢薬の事典』)Asakura Shoten.
5. Suzuki, Hiroshi. 1994. “Dictionary of Medicines in Kampo” (『漢方のくすりの事典』)Ishiyaku Shuppan.
6. Takagi, Shinobu. et al. 2001 Journal of Traditional Medicines 18, 239-244
7. Torii, Shinpei. 1994. Gendai Igaku (「現代医学」)517-518
8. National Institute of Health and Nutrition. Informarion system on safety and effectiveness for health foods (Japanese only).
9. Pharmacist’s Lettter editors, Precriber’s Letter editors ed. National Institute of Health and Nutrition. Tra. 2007. “Natiral Medicines Comprehensive Database”(『健康食品データベース』)Daiichi Shuppan.