Have you heard of Schisandra (also known as Schizandra or the Five Flavor Berry)? The extract from this fruit-bearing vine has been used in Chinese medicine to treat multiple physical ailments and mental ailments, including anxiety, depression, and memory loss. Schisandra berry benefits, which have been known throughout many Asian countries for centuries, are making this herb increasingly popular for treating various ailments in other parts of the world.
What Is Schisandra?
When we say “Schisandra,” what are we actually talking about? Schisandra is typically prepared from two different species of fruit-bearing vines, Schisandra Chinensis and Schisandra Sphenantherais. The vine’s purple-red berries are dried and used for their medicinal properties.
Schisandra is not consumed as a food. It is used as a herbal remedy. The Chinese prize it for its ability to positively affect meridians or “energy lines” of the body that help regulate the “qi life force” to maintain things like heart, lung, liver, and kidney health.
The berries have a complex “five flavor” taste that is sweet, salty, bitter, pungent, and sour. The predominantly sour taste will make your lips pucker if you eat one whole, although some people claim to enjoy their taste right off the vine. The berries are prepared in different ways to make them easy to consume (more about this later).
How Schisandra Works
Schisandra has been used for centuries in many Asian countries for a variety of ailments. Although some herbalists find this plant challenging to grow and bear fruit, its berries are prized for treating their ability to “cleanse” your body and boost your positive energy.
The most basic medicinal property of Schisandra is that it functions as an adaptogen. Adaptogens may regulate the body’s stress response by balancing hormone level production in the pituitary and adrenal glands, particularly steroid (cortisol) levels. This can help decrease physical and mental stress, leading to increased endurance and attention span with less fatigue.
Schisandra acts as an antioxidant to stimulate the immune system and has a natural anti-inflammatory effect, which may slow disease progression during the aging process. Many herbalists combine Schisandra with other anti-oxidants to achieve a cumulative healing effect. See Foods High In Antioxidant – Eating Smart For Better Health.
Specific Health Benefits
From a scientific point of view, Schisandra berry seeds contain lignans, which have been postulated to decrease the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and breast cancer, as well as improve menopausal symptoms. Scientific testing has only been conducted in biochemical models and animal studies, but human trials may soon be underway.
Apart from the lack of scientific evidence from research studies, Schisandra has been touted to have a wide range of medicinal and anti-aging properties, especially in Chinese medicine. Some of these Schisandra benefits include the following.
- Fatigue – The treatment of fatigue is one of the most common uses of Schisandra in Chinese medicine. There are claims that this herb can re-balance your metabolism on a cellular level and increase your overall level of positive energy.
- Diabetes – Schisandra has been used to stabilize blood sugars by decreasing insulin resistance, especially back in the days when there was no pharmacologic treatment for diabetes.
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) – Schisandra has been commonly used in herbal medicine to treat hypertension. It may act as an anti-hypertensive by dilating blood vessels to decrease the resistance to blood circulation.
- Heart palpitations – Schisandra may help alleviate palpitations by decreasing anxiety. It has also been thought to directly affect the electrical conduction system of the heart, although there is no objective clinical evidence to support this claim. See Stop Heart Palpitations – 15 Techniques That Really Work!
- Cough and asthma – Schisandra may inhibit the production of antibodies (immunoglobulins) that can cause airway hypersensitivity and cause cough or worsen the symptoms of asthma.
- Indigestion and diarrhea – Some people believe that Schisandra has enzymatic properties that can help with digestion and slow down intestinal motility to help with diarrhea. It has not been clinically tested as an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. See How To Diet With Irritable Bowel Syndrome And Feel Great Again!
- Liver disease – The antioxidant activity of flavonoids in Schisandra may decrease oxidative stress on the liver by decreasing free radicals. This process has been postulated to help lessen fat accumulation and the damage of acute and chronic hepatitis.
- Dementia – Schisandra has been commonly used to increase mental alertness. It is also thought to improve memory and forgetfulness. Some people claim that it can be useful in slowing the development of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
- Anxiety, insomnia, and depression – Schisandra is thought to improve anxiety by decreasing stress’s physical and mental effects. It is commonly used as a sleep aid. There is some objective evidence in animal studies that Schisandra can improve depression. See How To Beat Anxiety Naturally & Be Stress-Free! and Natural Ways To Help With Sleep – Feeling Refreshed Every Morning!
- Hot flashes – Schisandra has been used to treat hot flashes, especially pre and postmenopausal symptoms (with some degree of scientific evidence as listed above).
- Skin allergies – There are claims that Schisandra is very effective for treating some types of chronic skin allergies, especially those caused by autoimmune reactions. It is also used to hydrate and beautify the skin (see the video below). See Squalane Oil Skin Benefits – For A Fabulous Face!
- Increase in sexual stamina – The Chinese have used Schisandra as an aphrodisiac and an effective treatment for decreased sexual stamina and erectile dysfunction.
- Influenza – Some people have used Schisandra for its antiviral properties to improve influenza symptoms and decrease the duration of the illness.
Schisandra is most commonly available as tablets, capsules, powders, and liquid extracts. It can also be found as dried berries that can be ground or eaten whole. Schisandra berries are dried before packaging, and it isn’t easy to obtain fresh berries unless you harvest them from Schisandra vines.
You can usually get high-quality Schisandra is at your local herbal or natural food store. If they do not commonly stock it, then they most likely can order it for you.
If you are having trouble obtaining Schisandra in a particular preparation, there are also many good online resources dealing with herbal specialty products. It’s important to read the product reviews or chat with the website owner to be certain you are getting exactly what you are looking for.
How To Enjoy Schisandra
Most people do not like Schisandra’s unique taste in its raw form as a berry, powder, or extract, which has made its use in tablet and capsule form a more popular choice. Powders and extracts are commonly added to smoothies or tea or can be used sparingly as a topping over ice cream and sweet desserts.
Here is a video from JingHerbs that shows you how to make a “beauty smoothie” with Schisandra and other herbs to renourish and beautify your skin.
There are no official guidelines for dosing Schisandra, although product manufacturers will typically making dosing recommendations. Schisandra is commonly taken at a dose of 500 to 1,00 milligrams (mg) per day with a maximum dose of about 2,000 milligrams.
Some people use a small amount of Schisandra berries in the palm of their hand, equivalent to about one-half teaspoon.
If you are buying pre-packaged Schisandra, then the best approach is to follow the dosing instructions that come with the product.
Potential Drug Interactions
Schisandra may interact with medications that are broken down (metabolized) by the liver. This may result in an increase or decrease in the drug’s concentration and/or effectiveness, which may be harmful to your health. Here are some of the more common interactions.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like Aleve (Naproxen) or Advil (Ibuprofen)
- Antibiotics, especially erythromycin-based drugs like Zithromax (Azithromycin)
- Cholesterol (statin) medications like Lipitor (Atorvastatin) or Zocor (Simvastatin)
- Blood thinners (anticoagulants) like Coumadin (Warfarin)
- Birth control (contraceptive) pills of any type
- Diabetes medications like Glucotrol (glipizide)
- Immunosuppressive drugs like Sandimmune (Cyclosporine)
If you are taking a prescription medication then always check with your health care provider before beginning Schisandra.
Adverse Clinical Reactions
The majority of adverse reactions to Schisandra are digestive in nature. Some people may experience an increase in stomach acid production, leading to heartburn (GERD). Do not use Schandra if you have a history of stomach problems, including gastric or duodenal (small intestine) ulcers. Schisandra may cause a decrease in appetite, but it is not medically recommended at this time for weight loss.
Schisandra may cause allergic reactions such as skin itching or rashes. If you have or develop an allergic reaction to Schisandra, then stop immediately.
Do not use Schisandra if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you have a history of medical problems or concerns about taking Schisandra, always check with your health care provider before taking it.
Schisandra is a multi-use herb that has played an important role in ancient Chinese medicine and is still used today in many parts of the world. The Schisandra berry benefits are becoming increasingly popular in the USA. Medical research studies are beginning to show promising results in its role as an adaptogen and antioxidant for treating acute and chronic ailments.
Schisandra has a uniquely complex but predominantly sour taste. This is the reason most people use Schisandra whole berries or powder in things like smoothies or tea. With a little imagination, you can find many ways to incorporate this herb into your diet. Schisandra is also available in capsule, tablet, or liquid extract form for more convenient use.
There is no universal dosing regimen for Schisandra. The best-doing approach is to follow the directions for use on the product label. Like any other dietary supplement, Schisandra is not tested for efficacy and quality control by the FDA. It is important to always check with your health care provider before using Schisandra, especially if you have a history of medical ailments.
If you would like to try Schisandra, then the number one product I recommend is pure organic Schisandra extract powder. It does not contain GMOs and is vegan friendly. This product comes with its own measurement scoop for easy dosing.
Tell Us What You Think
Please let us know what’s on your mind in the comment section, or if I can help you with anything.
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