Perilla and the Treatment of Allergy

Perilla (Perilla frutescens Britt.), a traditional Chinese herb, has recently received special attention because of its beneficial effects in the treatment of some kinds of allergic reactions without the side effects associated with some other used antiallergy medicines. In this chapter, the authors present a review of the problem of allergy and the current favorable evidence for the use of Perilla products towards its resolution. The Allergy Problem Allergy is an abnormal immune reaction of the body to allergens such as pollen, dust, certain foods, drugs, animal fur, animal pets, animal excretions, feathers, microorganisms, cosmetics, textiles, dyes, smoke, chemical pollutants and insect stings. Certain conditions such as cold, heat, or light may also cause allergic symptoms in some susceptible people. Some allergens are just specific to some individuals but not to others. Allergens may act via inhalation, ingestion, injection or by contact with the skin. The resulting allergy may cause the victim to have a medical problem such as hay fever (allergicrhinitis), or atopic dermatitis (eczema), or allergic asthma, with symptoms ranging from sneezing, rhinorrhea, nasal itch, obstruction to nasal air-flow, loss of sense Read more […]

The use of eucalyptus oils in consumer products

Insect repellents As noted in the introduction, Eucalyptus citriodora oil has been used as a ‘natural’ insect repellent. Depending on the product formulation it is used in, Lemon Eucalyptus (known as Quwenling in China) is up to four or five times more effective and longer-lasting than citronella oil (from Cymbopogon nardus), one of the best known natural insect repellents. p-Menthane-3,8-diol is the main active component of Quwenling and this can be isolated and used as a highly effective insect repellent. Eucalyptus citriodora oil contains up to 80–90 per cent citronellal, along with geraniol, both of which are known to have insect repellent activity but tend to dilute the much higher activity of the p-menthane-3,8-diol. The Mosi-guard Natural insect repellent spray produced by MASTA in the UK contains ‘Extract of Lemon Eucalyptus’ and claims on the label: Approved and recommended by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Field trials have shown effective protection for 6 h after a single application in mosquito infected areas. Also protects against many other biting insects. Mosi-guard Natural is made from a natural and renewable resource. It is kind to your skin and has no adverse effects Read more […]

Ephedra Species

Botanically, Ephedra () is a member of the smallest and most problematic division of flowering plants, the Gnetopsida, and major questions remain unanswered about the taxonomy of the Gnetopsida and the evolutionary relationships of the different genera within the division. Ephedra is the largest and most widely distributed genus in the Gnetopsida, a subgroup of the gymnosperms. Many anatomical and reproductive characters of Ephedra are angiosperm-like. Recent molecular and chemical studies support the view that the Gnetopsida are the closest living relatives of the angiosperms but that the angiosperms are not derived from them. Pharmacologically, Ephedra has been the main botanical source of the active alkaloids l-ephedrine (E) and d-pseudoephedrine (PE) for thousands of years, with records of its medicinal use dating to 5000 years b.p.. The alkaloids E and PE remain important drugs today – the current world consumption of d-pseudoephedrine salts (PE-sulphate and PE-hydrochloride) stands at 1000-2000 tonnes per annum with a value of approximately $100-200 million. Powdered Ephedra stems are used in traditional herbal medicines as a hypertensive aid to treat asthma, nose and lung congestion, hay fever, and several Read more […]

Eczema and dermatitis

Superficial inflammation of the skin, characterized by vesicles (when acute), redness, edema, oozing, crusting, scaling, and usually itching. (The Merck Manual) The terms eczema and dermatitis are the cause of much confusion. In keeping with the broad guidelines given in The Merck Manual, we shall use these terms synonymously to indicate superficial inflammation of the skin. The dermatologist subdivides dermatitis and eczema into a range of different disease entities distinguished by location and appearance. For the phytotherapist, however, the most important distinction is between cases with an internal or endogenous cause and those with a contact or exogenous cause. In cases of dermatitis or eczema of exogenous cause, it is often possible to solve the problem simply by removing or avoiding the surface irritant, if it can be identified! Such problems, often called contact dermatitis, are commonly caused by: • Industrial solvents • Dyes • Nickel and other metals • Leather-tanning chemicals • Some soaps In such cases, eczema is the final result of a complex series of internal reactions to allergens and irritants. It is often associated with other allergic diseases, such as hay fever and asthma, Read more […]

Northern Asia

In the history of medicinal plant use in eastern Asia and Siberia, a very important school of medical practice, traditional Chinese medicine, links practices from a number of traditions that have been handed down by word of mouth (as in Siberia or northern China) and for which written historical sources are very rare and poorly investigated (e.g., Mongolian traditional medicine and the Tibetan school). The Chinese Materia Medico, has been growing throughout the last 2,000 years. This increase results from the integration of drugs into the official tradition from China’s popular medicine as well as from other parts of the world. The first major Materia Medica after Tao Hong Jing was the Xin xiu ben cao 659 ad, also known as Tang Materia Medica, which was the official pharmacopoeia of the Tang dynasty. It contained 844 entries and was China’s first illustrated Materia Medica. Zheng lei ben cao, 1108 ad, was the major medical treatise during the Song dynasty and contained 1,558 substances. However, China’s most celebrated medical book is represented by Li Shi-Zhen’s Ben cao gang mu, posthumously printed in 1596 ad, with 1,173 plant remedies, 444 animal-derived drugs and 275 minerals. This tradition has continued into Read more […]


An inflammation of a hair follicle of an eyelash can cause a stye, a pus-filled swelling on the eyelid, usually on the lower one, which generally comes to a head and bursts within four or five days. It may be a sign that a child is tired or run down and is more likely to occur if a child rubs or touches the eyes frequently and pulls eyelashes. It can be associated with a more general irritation of the eyelids or with blepharitis. A child with a stye needs to be discouraged from touching the affected eye, as this can cause spreading of the infection to the other eye. Treatment of styes • Eyebright (Euphrasia off.) has a long tradition of use for eye disorders in Europe and although modern herbalists may be more moderate in their claims about the power of eyebright than the ancients, it is still an excellent remedy for a variety of eye problems. Its astringent properties are good for relieving inflammatory eye infections such as styes, conjunctivitis, blepharitis, watery eye conditions and catarrh. It is particularly good for sore, itching eyes accompanied by a discharge, often seen in hay fever or measles, and for catarrhal conditions affecting the nose, throat, sinuses, ears, upper chest and causing sinusitis, headaches Read more […]

Perilla: Practice Points – Patient Counselling. FAQ

Perilla exhibits anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antioxidant and anticariogenic activity. Preliminary evidence also suggests hepatoprotective and behavioural effects. • Perilla leaf and defatted seed extracts are specifically used for allergic respiratory disorders including hay fever, asthma and sinusitis. • Perilla leaf and defatted seed extract may downregulate Th2-type cytokine production and prevent theTh1/Th2 balance from shifting toward Th2-type immune responses that may be associated with a range of allergic reactions and autoimmune disorders. • Perilla refined oil is a good source of n-3 series alpha-linolenic acid and extracts should be free of perillyl ketones and aldehydes. Answers to Patients’ Frequently Asked Questions What can this herb do for me? Perilla is used in the treatment of allergic respiratory conditions, such as hay fever, asthma and sinusitis. Preliminary evidence suggests that it may be beneficial; however, more rigorous studies are still required to confirm effectiveness. When will it start to work? Relief of symptoms should be noticed within the first week, although it may take a couple of weeks to show a significant effect. For hay fever, it would be Read more […]

Perilla: Clinical Use. Dosage

The form most commonly used at the moment is the perilla seed defatted extract; however, this review will also include information regarding other forms. CANCER Phase I clinical trials have shown a favourable toxicity profile and preliminary data have indicated somechemotherapeutic efficacy in advanced cancers. However, perillyl alcohol (1200 mg/m2 four times daily) failed to extend the time-to-progression in three phase II studies in patients with advanced ovarian carcinoma, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer. All trials were very small and had to contend with high drop-out rates due to intolerabihty of the medicine. Despite encouraging preclinical results, perilla does not appear to be an effective treatment for advanced cancer. ALLERGY Based on traditional use, in vitro and in vivo studies, and human trials, perilla leaf and defatted seed extracts are used for allergic respiratory disorders including hay fever, asthma and sinusitis. The refined oil may also help allergic and inflammatory respiratory conditions by regulating the arachidonic acid metabolism pathways. A double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial showed a significant reduction in symptoms such as watery eyes, itchy eyes and Read more […]

Perilla: Background. Actions

Common Name Perilla Other Names Beefsteak plant, Chinese basil, Purple perilla, wild sesame (English common names), Ban Tulsi (Bengali), Su Zi (Mandarin), Shosi, Egoma (Japanese). Different names are used for the different parts of the perilla plant used as foods or medicines. Botanical Name / Family Perilla frutescens (L.) Britt. There are several botanical variants that seem to be used interchangeably: P. frutescens var. crispa, P. frutescens var. japonica (family Lamiaceae or Labiatae [mint family]). Plant Parts Used Leaf, stem and the fruit (seed) are used. Historical Note Perilla is an annual plant native to Eastern Asia. It was introduced to Japan from China and is now cultivated extensively in Japan, India and Korea. The seed is mainly used for its high oil content, and the leaves of Perilla frutescens var. crispa are used as a vegetable and food colouring. The salty umeboshi plum is coloured by the addition of special red perilla leaves. In China perilla has been used to reduce the risk of food poisoning by cooking seafood with the leaf. In recent times, certain compounds (monoterpines) isolated from the oil are being investigated as an anticancer treatment, and the defatted seed extract is used Read more […]