Life Extension Magazine®

Q and A

The origins of Perilla oil, methylation agents and more.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in January 2021. Written by: Life Extension Editorial Staff.


Q: Where does Perilla oil come from and what does it do?

A: Perilla oil comes from the seeds of the plant Perilla frutescens, also called the "beefsteak plant." It provides the same omega-3 essential fatty acids as flax seed oil. By supplying an abundance of alpha-linolenic acid, Perilla oil provides the body with the beneficial EPA and DHA fatty acids found in fish oil. Perilla oil is recommended to those who cannot tolerate fish oil due to gastrointestinal side effects.

Q: I'm familiar with the positive benefits of methylation agents such as SAMe and trimethylglycine and use the products myself. I've also been reading cancer research articles about DNA hyper-methylation. Is there any possibility or evidence that taking supplements such as SAMe or trimethylglycine can cause harmful hyper-methylation? If so, what dosage levels would be considered harmful? I've done an Internet search and have not been able to find anything specific on this subject.

A: It is not possible to over methylate DNA in healthy cells with methylation enhancement. The body has built-in mechanisms for disposing of unneeded methylation. While it appears certain that methylation-enhancement will prevent cancer from starting, not enough research has been done to show what happens when methylation-enhancing factors are taken during cancer. Most cancers are methionine-dependent. Patients with cancer should never take supplemental methionine and should eat a low methionine diet. Those with active cancer may also want to avoid s-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) until more is known about its in vivo effects on methionine-dependent cancer cells. Ongoing research into the area of cancer and methylation will ultimately provide a definitive answer, but based on what is known today, cancer patients may want to avoid methionine-rich diets and methionine-rich supplements.