Perilla oil Health Benefits, Uses, Quality & Best Products Compared

Author: Dr. Michael Tyler
Date: 01.10.2020
Reading time: 9:6 min

Perilla oil, which comes from Asia, is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids - like linseed oil. It is being promoted as a modern herbal dietary supplement for omega-3, as an alternative to fish oil capsules.

Name Korean perilla
Lat. Name Perilla frutescens
Synonyms Shiso, egoma, black nettle, sesame leaf
Origin Korea
Price per 10ml 0,60
our recommendation
Teebaumöl from

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Internal effect

With its high content of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), perilla oil is particularly beneficial for health. This fatty acid is essential for humans - it is absolutely necessary for a healthy metabolism - but cannot be produced by the body itself. ALA must therefore be ingested in food. Furthermore, a certain percentage of the ingested ALA is converted into two further omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These two fatty acids are primarily known to be in fish and similar fatty sea products. However, researchers are divided on exactly how large the turnover rate is. It is generally believed that ALA supplementation alone is not enough to meet DHA and EPA needs as well, but there is also evidence otherwise.

Cardiovascular health

A good supply of omega-3 fatty acids is particularly important for a healthy cardiovascular system. In modern diets, many people ingest too many unhealthy fats, which is reflected in poor blood lipid values.

Blood fat is a general known as lipoproteins, whose job it is to bind fats and transport them with the bloodstream. These transport vehicles are necessary because, unlike other nutrients, fats are not soluble in the blood. There are very different types with specific tasks. The most important lipoproteins are LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein), which are colloquially referred to as "bad" and "good" cholesterol respectively. Both lipoproteins carry cholesterol. 

This is a polycyclic, water-insoluble alcohol that is produced in the liver and is required in all human cells. In addition, cholesterol is also absorbed through food and also enters the bloodstream via the liver. The body's own production is almost sufficient to meet the needs. LDL collects this cholesterol in the liver and transports it to individual cells. It sometimes circulates through the body for several days. Especially when there is too much cholesterol and the cells cannot absorb any more. During this time, however, LDL is very sensitive to oxidative stress, which in turn is caused by an unhealthy diet.

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If the LDL oxidizes, it is deposited on the vessel wall. This happens more and more in the coronary arteries. Over the course of many years, such deposits can condense and a dangerous narrowing of the blood vessels, an arteriosclerosis, develops.

The risk of a heart attack or stroke is significantly increased here, since fragments of the deposits spontaneously detach from the vessel walls due to the increased local blood pressure and block the blood vessel. Atherosclerosis is a disease of modern civilization that can largely be traced back to an unhealthy diet and is now the leading cause of death worldwide.

The opposite of the “bad” LDL is the “good” HDL. HDL collects excess cholesterol from the body and transports it to the liver, where it can be broken down and excreted. In doing so, it collects the cholesterol not only from the cells, but also from the vessel walls. Thus, the HDL can reverse the beginning of narrowing of the blood vessels.  Doctors now assume that the risk of coronal heart disease drops significantly when the ratio of HDL to LDL in the blood is as high as possible. However, these processes take a long time and have to be considered over years.

Omega-3 fatty acids can significantly influence blood lipid levels. Several studies have shown that alpa-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in large quantities in perilla oil, particularly lowers LDL levels and maintains the HDL level. This improves the critical relationship between these two opponents significantly and coronal heart disease is effectively prevented. See also this study.

Anti inflammatory

Omega-3 fatty acids also have an effect on inflammatory processes in the body. They have a particularly powerful effect on the so-called C-reactive protein (CRP), a component of the inflammation cascade that causes a non-specific immune reaction. Chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases are associated with increased CRP level, which often correlates in waves with phases of severe symptoms. Studies have shown that a diet rich in plant-based alpha-linolenic acid significantly improves the inflammation levels in the blood of patients and thereby noticeably alleviates the acute symptoms. See also this study.

External effect

On the skin, the ingredients of perilla oil have a regulating effect on water balance. This tightens and smooths the skin. Mature skin in particular can benefit from the oil. Irritated or even slightly inflamed skin areas are soothed by the oil and stimulated for regeneration.

Side effects

According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), a maximum daily dose of about 3 grams applies to all omega-3 fatty acids. Exactly how much is ingested by food of course varies with each individual and can often only be roughly estimated. Nevertheless, one should pay particular attention to this maximum amount when taking additional oil capsules and discuss the dosage with your doctor if necessary.

Omega-3 fatty acids can change blood flow in high doses. If you take blood-thinning medication, you should therefore always discuss the dosage of omega-3 supplements with your doctor.



Ingestion as an oil capsule | Dietary supplement

Perilla oil is mostly offered in capsule form as a dietary supplement. The intake is intended to ensure the supply of essential fatty acids. The capsules mostly contain 500 mg of oil and are taken with meals, depending on the manufacturer's dosage recommendation. They are a purely vegetable source of omega-3s.

Of course, as with all food supplements, the intake of certain preparations does not replace a healthy and balanced diet. Essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, are certainly important for a healthy metabolism and functionality of organs, but they are not medicinal substances in terms of therapeutic treatment. With a healthy and varied diet, the body is usually supplied with sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.  This applies in particular to the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in perilla oil, which is found in many fats and oils of vegetable and animal origin. In most cases, an actual deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids is more due to a deficiency in the two essential fatty acids EPA and DHA. They are mainly found in fish and other marine organisms, some of which are not regularly on the menu.

Symptoms of an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency can include dry skin, brittle nails, dull hair, insomnia, difficulty concentrating or exhaustion. A reliable determination can only be made with blood analysis. In these cases it can be assumed that in general, the deficiency is improved by supplementing the deficient nutrient.

For medical problems that result from an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, perilla oil capsules can help to correct blood values, but they are not a substitute for improving unhealthy habits.  

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Consumption as an edible oil

In the kitchen, perilla oil is best for cold dishes. In order not to destroy the valuable fatty acids contained, it should not be heated. Perilla oil goes well with salad dressings, but can also be added to smoothies, muesli or on ice. The required daily dose of ALA is achieved with less than a teaspoon of perilla oil.  

For the skin

Perilla oil can be found in some cosmetic skin care products, but can also be used on its own on dry and stressed skin. It can be used for daily care or for regular cures. In the case of acute inflammation of the skin surface, you can carefully dab the affected area with a cloth soaked in perilla oil and then let the oil soak in.


Only the seeds of the green-leaved perilla plant are used for the production of perilla oil. After the harvest, the seeds are first washed and roasted. They have a fat content of 38 to 45 percent, which is pressed out of them by cold pressing. The oil obtained is light yellow and is reminiscent of linseed oil in smell and taste, but has a longer shelf life.


Perilla oil consists of about 54 to 64 percent of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. This makes the content of this valuable fatty acid comparable to that of linseed oil, which is much better known and valued for its high omega-3 content. Secondly, is monounsaturated oleic acid with a proportion between 12 and 22 percent. The doubly unsaturated linoleic acid makes up another 13 to 20 percent.

In addition to these three main ingredients, perilla oil contains smaller proportions of saturated palmitic acid and secondary plant substances such as the terpene perillaaldehyde. This aldehyde is the main component of the essential oil of the perilla plant and is used as a raw material for the substitute sugar perillartin, which is about 2000 times sweeter than sugar and is mainly used in Japan.


Until the early 16th century, perilla oil was mainly used in Japan and Korea as lamp oil and to manufacture oil paper. Oil colours were also mixed with perilla oil in that region a long time ago. Even today, a large proportion of the production of perilla oil goes into the Asian paint and varnish industry. Otherwise, perilla oil is one of the most important traditional edible oils in Korean cuisine, along with sesame oil. It is particularly widespread in South Korea, as the perilla plant thrives there. Many South Korean dishes are given their traditional aroma in by the oil.  

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The perilla (Perilla frutescens) is an annual herbaceous plant that is native to South and East Asia. In North America today it is considered a neophyte, i.e. an introduced species that is increasingly spreading. As a rule, the perilla reaches a height of 30 to 60 centimeters. Depending on the location, however, it can also be significantly larger. In terms of growth and leaf shape, it is similar to the dead nettle, to which it is closely related. The entire plant is green to dark red and coarsely hairy everywhere. The small white flowers are arranged in characteristic long inflorescences. From them, 1.5 to 3 mm large disintegrated fruits develop, which release the seeds when ripening is complete.  


Perilla is mainly grown in Korea. The annual plants are cut back to a height of about 5 cm in summer. As a result, the sprout forks and the growth of several new sprouts is stimulated, which bear more fruit than a single one. When growing perilla, farmers must ensure that the plants are separated from their cattle. Because although the perilla is basically edible for humans, it is poisonous for cattle and horses. The ketones contained trigger acute respiratory syndromes in these animals.

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