Perilla frutescens (L.) Britt. (PF) is an annual herbal medicinal, aromatic, functional food, and ornamental plant that belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae. The origin of perilla traces back to East Asian countries (China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India), where it has been used as a valuable source of culinary and traditional medicinal uses. The leaves, seeds, and stems of P. frutescens are used for various therapeutic applications in folk medicine. In the absence of a comprehensive review regarding all aspects of perilla, this review aims to present an overview pertaining to the botanical drug, ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and biological activity. It was found that the taxonomic classification of perilla species is quite confused, and the number of species is vague. Perilla has traditionally been prescribed to treat depression-related disease, anxiety, asthma, chest stuffiness, vomiting, coughs, colds, flus, phlegm, tumors, allergies, intoxication, fever, headache, stuffy nose, constipation, abdominal pain, and indigestion, and acts as an analgesic, anti-abortive agent, and a sedative. Until now, 271 natural molecules have been identified in perilla organs including phenolic acids, flavonoids, essential oils, triterpenes, carotenoids, phytosterols, fatty acids, tocopherols, and policosanols. In addition to solvent extracts, these individual compounds (rosmarinic acid, perillaldehyde, luteolin, apigenin, tormentic acid, and isoegomaketone) have attracted researchers' interest for its pharmacological properties. Perilla showed various biological activities such as antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-allergic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and neuroprotection effects. Although the results are promising in preclinical studies (in vitro and in vivo), clinical studies are insufficient; therefore, further study needs to be done to validate its therapeutic effects and to ensure its safety and efficacy.
Keywords: bioactivity; essential oils; polyphenols; preclinical; rosmarinic acid; terpeniods.