NANOTEC research team developed perilla seed oil product with improved bioavailability utilizing nanoemulsion technology. The product is now commercially available with sales expected to reach 1 million units in 2023.

Dr. Kittiwut Kasemwong, Leader of Nano Agricultural Chemistry and Processing Research Team, revealed the origin of this innovation. His research team previously worked with Tea Oil Plant and Other Oil Crops Research and Development Center of the Chaipattana Foundation to formulate nanoemulsions of camellia seed oil. The team then applied knowledge acquired from previous work to develop nanoemulsions of perilla seed oil with research fund provided by the Agricultural Research Development Agency (ARDA).

Perilla, or Perilla frutescens, belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae. Native to Southeast Asia and highlands, the plant is grown as a crop in Northern Thailand, particularly Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Phrae and Nan. Perilla seed oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids – 55-60% linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid), 18-22% linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) and 0.08-0.17% oleic acid (omega-9 fatty acid) - that can boost brain function, strengthen the nervous system, and lower cholesterol. Additionally, perilla seed oil contains polyphenols, particularly rosmarinic acid and luteolin, that have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.

Dr. Kittiwut further explained that nanoemulsions are nano-sized emulsions created to improve the solubility and absorptivity of bioactive compounds, thus enhancing their overall bioavailability. Once the right formula was achieved, the nanoemulsions were then encapsulated into soft get capsules as finished products.

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This technology has been licensed to JR Laboratory Company Limited, a manufacturer of health and functional foods. The product was launched in Thailand under the PEREAL brand in late 2021. The company plans to introduce PEREAL perilla seed oil to neighboring markets later this year, starting with Laos. Sales are expected to reach one million units in 2023.