Shiso – Perilla – Kemangi – Beefsteak Leaf

Shiso is an herb better known in Asia than the United States.  It is a member of the mint family and has many uses in both food and medicine.  An attractive herb, shiso is also an excellent addition to an herb garden as it has a pleasant odor and is easy to grow.

The History of Shiso:




Shiso was first a herb in China, but migrated to Japan in the eighth century.  It was originally grown for lamp oil.  The seeds of the plant were crushed to make the oil, but this was expensive, so the practice died out when other oil sources were found.  Then the plant had a second coming when it was discovered to be an asset both in the kitchen and the medicine cabinet.  The leaves of the plant are especially popular as they have a rich cinnamon scent.


Using Shiso:

Shiso has many uses.  It is popular both a food and as medicine, especially in Asia where herbal medicines are more commonplace than the United States. Shiso is a very basic ingredient in traditional Japanese fare.  It is found in many dishes as a source of additional color and flavoring.  The leaves and seed pods are used in salads and miso soup.  The leaves are also a standard accompaniment of raw fish.  This makes very good sense considering the medicinal uses of the plant.


Medicinal Shiso:

Shiso is a natural antiseptic and can prevent food poisoning when consumed with items such as raw fish.  Shiso is used in many forms in medicine.  It has been powdered and juiced.  Extracts are also taken to aid in promoting health.

Shiso works against inflammation, so it has often been used on conditions such as the rheumatoid arthritis, food poisoning, and the common cold.  Science has become extremely interested in shiso for this anti allergy ability.  It has been used topically as an extract and shows tremendous promise at reducing allergic reactions and inflammation.

It is still being studied as part of treatment for respiratory conditions and is already used for certain skin conditions including hay fever, eczema and other allergies.


Growing Shiso:

As Shiso is so useful, it is also a very handy herb to have around the house.  Many who garden plant a row of shiso for its attractiveness and usefulness.  Even those without a garden plot or windowsill have grown shiso using a hydroponic growing system.  The system does not require soil or even sunlight with the right equipment, so plants and herbs like shiso can be grown anywhere.



Charlotte BradleyIf you are interested in indoor gardening or perhaps are considering an inexpensive hobby greenhouse, drop by to learn more about this fascinating way of gardening!  Started by Charlotte Bradley who, as a resident of Canada, was looking for a way to grow vegetables for her family year-round, the website boasts the latest resources and updated information, making it easy for anyone, anywhere, to start, maintain, and grow the garden of their choice indoors without harmful chemicals.

Check out all of Charlotte Bradley’s Healthy Lifestyles columns.


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