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Perilla As Natural Treatment for Gastrointestinal Symptoms

perilla as natural treatment for gastrointestinal symptoms

Gastrointestinal symptoms affect approximately one in five people and are often treated with a variety of over-the-counter medications that vary in their effectiveness and can cause side effects. A natural remedy called perilla has recently been found to provide significant relief in several studies.


Bloating, gas, flatulence, stomach rumbling, abdominal pain, and constipation—have you experienced any of these lately? These are common gastrointestinal symptoms that can make otherwise healthy adults extremely uncomfortable and take a toll on their quality of life. Although these and other symptoms can affect anyone, women are at the top of the list.

Researchers have discovered that an extract from the plant Perilla frutescens can provide significant relief from GI symptoms. Perilla frutescens, which has origins in Asia and is a member of the mint family, is viewed primarily as an invasive plant in the United States, especially in the mid-Atlantic region, because it pushes out native plants and disrupts native ecosystems.

Perilla treats gastrointestinal symptoms
When it comes to gastrointestinal problems, however, Perilla frutescens may be seen in a kinder light. A recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study set out to see if this was true.

Fifty otherwise healthy adults who were experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms and reduced bowel movements were enrolled. After the participants recorded their symptoms, stool frequency, and consistency daily for two weeks, they were assigned to take either a placebo or Perilla frutescens daily for four weeks.

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Here are the results:

  • All five gastrointestinal symptoms evaluated (bloating, flatulence, GI rumbling, feeling of fullness, abdominal discomfort) improved significantly among those who took the herbal extract
  • Only abdominal discomfort improved significantly in the placebo group
  • When data from only the women were analyzed, results were strengthened and both bloating and abdominal discomfort were significantly improved when compared with placebo

Other studies of Perilla frutescens
Another study looked at the effect of Perilla frutescens on a specific type of gastrointestinal condition—colitis. Perilla frutescens extract or distilled water was administered to mice who had dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis.

The animals who received Perilla frutescens experienced a significant improvement in body weight loss and lower colitis scores compared with mice in the control group. An analysis of three biologically active ingredients in the herb (apigenin, luteolin, rosmarinic acid) revealed that the first two helped reduce inflammation while the third increased the population of regulatory T cells, which modulate the immune system. Overall, the authors concluded Perilla frutescens could prove useful in preventing and treating DSS-induced colitis.

In another animal study, researchers tested the antispasmodic effects of Perilla frutescens extract and apigenin (a compound in the extract) on rat ileum. They noted that both were effective when spasms were induced, and they concluded that the extract and the individual compound may be helpful in maintaining and improve gut health.
Perilla frutescens supplements are available as softgels, whole herb, capsules, and liquid extract. You should consult a knowledgeable healthcare professional before taking this herbal remedy.

A significant amount of research on Perilla frutescens has been done concerning its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and for use in treating allergies, autoimmune diseases, and depression. Perilla may be a way to treat gastrointestinal symptoms as well.

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Buchwald-Werner S et al. Perilla extract improves gastrointestinal discomfort in a randomized placebo controlled double blind human pilot study. BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine 2014 May 27; 14:173
Peng Y et al. Determination of phenolic compounds in Perilla frutescens L. by capillary electrophoresis with electrochemical detection. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2005 Oct 19; 53(21): 8141-47
Urushima H et al. Perilla frutescens extract ameliorates DSS-induced colitis by suppressing proinflammatory cytokines and inducing anti-inflammatory cytokines. American Journal of Physiology. Gastrointestinal & Liver Physiology 2015 Jan 1; 308(1): G32-41
Verspohl EJ et al. Testing of Perilla frutescens extract and Vicenin 2 for their antispasmodic effect. Phytomedicine 2013 Mar 15; 20(5): 427-31