Schisandra Benefits

Schisandra
Latin Name

Schisandra chinensis

Also Known As

Wu-wei-zi, Magnolia Vine, Japanese Gomishi, Korean Omicha, Fruit Of Five Flavors, O Mi Cha

Origin

China, Japan, Korea and Russia

Parts Used

Berries

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Schisandra has long been used in the traditional medicines of China and Russia for a wide variety of ailments, including; respiratory disease, asthma, insomnia, kidney problems and diarrhoea. Also classed as a herbal adaptogen, hunters and athletes would use this bright red berry to combat fatigue under physical stress and to increase endurance.

Chinese folklore says that Schisandra can “calm the heart and quiet the spirit”, and has been used since the dawn of Chinese civilisation as a tonic herb.

Schisandra Benefits

Stress & Anxiety

Research surrounding Schisandra is fairly conclusive in the fact that it is a powerful anti-anxiety herb, in addition to its ability to boost ones mood through lowering stress levels and enhancing mental performance. Its adaptogenic qualities mean that it specifically reduces both mental and physical stress, exerting a normalising effect on the whole body.

It has been found that Schisandra reduces cortisol levels in the body (the stress hormone) and is effective in controlling changes in serotonin and adrenaline caused by stress. This adaptogenic berry also fights the adrenal fatigue that is linked to stress.

Longevity

Often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine longevity formulas, the Schisandra Berry has long been known to maintain vitality and support healthy cellular function. It is a fantastic liver detoxifier - the liver is largest elimination organ in the body and keeping the liver in tip-top condition plays an important part in how well we age. Schisandra actually works to deactivate free radicals that attack liver cells.

Schisandra is also a natural beauty tonic, protecting the skin from environmental stress, toxins and over-exposure to extreme weather, thus reducing the appearance of fine lines. Its astringent quality helps the skin to retain moisture and builds the immune defence energy that flows beneath the surface of the skin. This adaptive quality helps to open and close the pores, promoting the healing of various skin issues and helps skin to retain its elasticity, hence why it has been used for millennia by Asian women to enhance and preserve a youthful appearance.

Anti-Inflammatory

Extremely high in powerful antioxidants, Schisandra helps to fight against free radical damage, thus lowering inflammatory responses. This in turn positively affects the immune system and can help to protect the arteries from hardening, regulate blood sugar, prevent diabetes and keep the body’s PH levels normal. Its anti-inflammatory properties have also been found to have chemo-protective qualities, meaning it will help to protect healthy tissues from the damaging effects of certain anti-cancer drugs.

Skin Health

The Schisandra berry was cherished by Chinese royalty for its beauty and anti-aging qualities. Packed with antioxidants, including key vitamins C and E, Schisandra’s strong astringent qualities enable the skin to hold in moisture for more fullness. Schisandra may also protect against UVB induced skin damage and is still used as an important botanical in many Eastern skin formulas.

Typical Use

1 to 3 grams up to twice a day.

Folklore and History

Also known as the “five flavour fruit”, Schisandra is documented in early Chinese medical texts as a superior herb, capable of promoting overall well-being and enhancing bodily vitality. As far back as 2697 BCE Schisandra was classified as superior by Pen-Tsao in the classic Yellow Emperor's Study of Inner Medicine, an encyclopedia of healing plants. Hunting tribes of Northern China would take supplies of the dried berries whenever they went on long hunting trips during cold weather. Eating Schisandra berries helped them to stoke their internal fires and renew flagging strength.

The classical treatise on Chinese herbal medicine, the Shen Nung Pen Tsao Ching, describes Schisandra as a high-grade herbal drug useful for a wide variety of medical conditions, especially as a kidney tonic and lung astringent. In addition, other textbooks on traditional Chinese medicine note that Schisandra is useful for coughs, night sweats, insomnia, thirst, and physical exhaustion.

Schisandra
Constituents

- acids
- 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.

Precautions

The Chinese say that Schisandra 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. Schisandra may promote contractions of the uterine muscles and thus should not be used by pregnant women.