Also Known As
Wu-wei-zi, Magnolia Vine, Japanese Gomishi, Korean Omicha, Fruit Of Five Flavors, O Mi Cha
China, Japan, Korea and Russia
Traditional Use and Health Benefits
Schizandra berries have been used in Chinese medicine for several thousand years. They are known for their adaptogen properties. This means that they assist the bodies systems in adapting to stressors and achieving the balance of health.
As an adaptogen, the long term benefits are the ability to resist stress, heightened resistance to disease, and an overall strengthened constitution. So the Schizandra berries could stimulate and tonify the system on waking and calm and tranquilise the system when it is time to sleep.
Schizandra is also used for promoting mental function, strengthening the sex organs and beautifying the skin. Schizandra has been shown to protect the liver through regeneration and detoxification. Metabolic activity is increased due to an increase of hepatic glycogen content. Research has proven Schizandra's ability to stimulate the gastro-intestinal tract, central nervous system, liver, kidneys, adrenals, lungs, and immune system. Schizandra is taken to nourish the liver and kidneys.
Research has shown that Schizandra's adaptogenic qualities helps the body to fight disease and adapt to stresses from physical, mental, chemical, and environmental sources. Schizandra also has tonic (restoring tone to tissues), expectorant (promoting the clearing of lung mucus), and cough-suppressant (reducing coughing) activities. It stimulates the nervous system by increasing the speed of nervous responses, leading to quicker and stronger reflexes.
Schizandra has been shown to stimulate breathing, lower blood pressure, act as a vasodilator (causing blood vessels to dilate), improve blood circulation, improve heart function, strengthen uterine contractions, improve vision, normalize blood sugar levels, and assist in food digestion and absorption of nutrients. It can activate all major body systems.
1 to 3 grams up to twice a day.
Folklore and History
Schizandra is documented in early Chinese medical texts as a superior herb capable of promoting overall well-being and enhancing bodily vitality. Some hunting tribes of Northern China would take supplies of the dried berries whenever they went on long hunting trips during cold weather. Eating the schizandra berries helped them to stoke their internal fires and renew flagging strength.
The Chinese have long considered Schizandra ideal for lack of energy and for nervous exhaustion from stress. Among the ailments it was used to treat are night sweats, asthma, cough, and insomnia. Schizandra was used topically for skin sores. It is a traditional Russian folk remedy for diabetes.
- lignans (deoxyschizandrin, gomisins, pregomisin, schizandrin, and others)
- phytosterols (beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol)
- vitamins C and E
- volatile oils
Schisandra fruit contains at least 30 different lignans. Lignans, which are sometimes described as phytoestrogens (plant-derived compounds with estrogen-like activity), are known to have liver-protective (anti-hepatotoxic) action and to regenerate damaged liver tissue.
The Chinese say that schizandra berries have all five flavors (sweet, sour, bitter, hot, salty) and have long consumed them as a food. Average doses of herbal preparations are considered safe and nontoxic. Mild side effects may include indigestion and skin rash. Schizandra may promote contractions of the uterine muscles and thus should not be used by pregnant women.