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Perilla seeds come from an herb named perilla, which is a rich and flavorful plant. The herb is native to East Asia, yet has become more readily available in other areas because of its benefits. The plant is commonly found in places such as Japan and China, on the hills and mountains. The perilla is purplish in color and can reach up to two feet tall (0.61 meters). In early summer, scented flowers bloom on the perilla. The perilla plant is edible and medicinal.
The perilla seed itself is extremely small and fragile, measuring about a millimeter in size. Once the seeds are harvested they are dried in the sun. Perilla provides a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have numerous health benefits for the body. In Chinese medicine, the seed is believed to offer health benefits for the large intestines and the lungs. The seed is commonly used to resolve problems like asthma, prevent coughing and even help with constipation.
It isn’t just the seeds of the perilla that are useful. Different parts of the plant are used for a variety of things. The leaves of the perilla are commonly used as a spice and are known to have a sweet taste. Perilla leaves have been combined with a number of dishes and are commonly eaten with fish, rice and vegetables in Asian countries.
The stems of the perilla plant have been used to help relieve discomfort in pregnant women. Although pregnant women are often cautioned against perilla, the stems are used as a traditional Chinese remedy for a restless fetus. The seeds are also used to treat morning sickness.
Today, perilla seed is often sold in the form of a supplement or as oil, but can also be used raw. In East Asia, it is common for the seeds to be finely ground or crushed into a powder. Perilla seeds can also be found in many herbal formulas. When they are included in a formula, the seed is usually combined with hemp seeds and apricot kernels.
Perilla oil can be used for numerous things. The plant provides nutritious cooking oil, and the oil is also used in everyday products. The paint and varnish industry use copious amounts of perilla oil and for years the oil has been used to manufacture inks.
There are certain precautions that should be taken before a person consumes perilla seed. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should speak with a doctor before taking this seed. Those who have spleen problems or difficulty breathing should also avoid the seeds.