It’s that time of year again: the season of itchy eyes, sneezing, runny noses and breathing troubles for anyone who suffers from allergies. While it is tempting to run for the decongestants and anti-histamines and lock yourself indoors, Mother Nature offers help in the form of a little-known herb that can significantly improve most allergy symptoms.
This mostly unknown herb, Perilla frutescens, is part of the mint family. Sometimes just called perilla, an extract from the plant’s leaves have been found in many studies to be effective for the treatment of allergies, including: nasal congestion, sinusitis, asthma linked to allergies, skin conditions and eye irritation.
In one study published in Experimental Biology and Medicine, perilla and one of its active ingredients known as rosmarinic acid or rosmarinic extract, were found to significantly ameliorate allergic inflammatory reactions such as nasal and sinus congestion, and eye irritation.
In another study published in Phytotherapy Research, Japanese scientists at the Department of Kampo Medicinal Sciences, Hokkaido College of Pharmacy, found that perilla was more effective than the drug tranilast, or the brand name Rizaben, which is used for allergies.
Yet another study published in the journal Food Chemical Toxicology found that “dietary perilla oil might have a moderately beneficial effect on asthmatic allergy.”
And as if that wasn’t convincing enough, still another study in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine found that perilla also alleviated allergic-related skin conditions.
Allergy sufferers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this herb. Recent research shows that the essential oil of perilla frutescens may also have an anti-depressant effect. It seems to work on multiple levels: reducing inflammation in the body which most likely accounts for many of the herb’s effects on allergies and depression as well as boosting serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a brain hormone, known as a neurotransmitter, which boosts our feelings of well-being.
The effective dose of perilla differs from product to product and depends on whether the seeds or leaves are used, whether the remedy is an extract of a specific compound or simply crushed dried leaves, among other factors. It is best to follow package directions for the product you select. Consult your physician prior to use.