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Schisandra: The Multi Beneficial Longevity Herb



Schisandra is an exceptionally potent multi beneficial herb. Schisandra chinensis means literally “five-flavor berry” which is its common name. It is a deciduous woody vine native to forests of Northern China and the Russian Far East. It is hardy in USDA Zone 4. The plant likes some shade with moist, well-drained soil. The species itself is dioecious, thus flowers on a female plant will only produce fruit when fertilized with pollen from a male plant. However, a hybrid selection titled ‘Eastern Prince’ has perfect flowers and is self-fertile.

Its berries are used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs. Chemical constituents include the lignans schisandrin, deoxyschisandrin, gomisins, and pregomisin, which are found in the seeds of the fruit. It should not be used by pregnant women.
In China, a wine is made from the berries. In Korean, the berries are known as omija. The cordial drink made from the berries is called omija cha, meaning “omija tea”. In Japanese, they are called gomishi. The Ainu people used this plant, called repnihat, as a remedy for colds and sea-sickness.

In traditional Chinese medicine, S. chinensis is believed to act as an astringent for the Qi of the lungs and kidneys, restrain the essence to treat diarrhea, arrest excessive sweating from deficiency of yin or yang, calm the spirit by refreshing the heart and kidneys, and generate body fluid and reduce thirst.

The great interest in limonnik in Russia arises from results of ethnopharmacological investigations of Russian scientists in the Far East regions where the berries and seeds were used by Nanai (Goldes or Samagir) hunters to improve night vision, as a tonic and to reduce hunger, thirst and exhaustion since “it gives forces to follow a sable all the day without food”.

“Pharmacological studies on animals have shown that Schisandra increases physical working capacity and affords a stress-protective effect against a broad spectrum of harmful factors including heat shock, skin burn, cooling, frostbite, immobilization, swimming under load in an atmosphere with decreased air pressure, aseptic inflammation, irradiation, and heavy metal intoxication. The phytoadaptogen exerts an effect on the central nervous, sympathetic, endocrine, immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal systems, on the development of experimental atherosclerosis, on blood sugar and acid-base balance, and on uterus myotonic activity.”


Schisandra is one of the many traditional Chinese herbs recommended for coughs and various lung diseases. It has been studied extensively in China and Japan. Schisandra has been used for healing for more than 2,000 years. The Chinese name for the plant, “wu-wei-zu,” means “5 taste fruit” and is associated with sweet, sour, bitter, astringent, and salty flavors. Salty and sour tastes were believed to have effects on the liver and testicles, while the bitter and astringent properties were thought to be good for the heart and lungs and the sweet component for the stomach.
Eating schizandra berry may protect you against cancer. A study published in the October 2009 issue of “International Journal of Molecular Medicine” investigated the anti-cancer effects of two phytochemicals — schisandrin and schisandrin C, both found in schizandra berry — in human leukemia cells. In the study, schisandrin C prevented the growth of cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner, while schisandrin was unable to do the same. These findings led researchers to conclude that schisandrin C may serve as a promising anti-cancer agent.

As a cancer medication, adriamycin stops the growth of cancer cells and keeps them from spreading throughout your body. However, it can cause cardiotoxicity, shown through decreased heart function, abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity and congested liver. A study that appeared in the January-February 2006 edition of “Chang Gung Medical Journal” evaluated the protective effects of schizandra berry on cardiotoxicity in rats.

Treatment of rats with adriamycin inhibited protein and nucleic acid synthesis, encouraged free radical formation and promoted oxidation of lipids. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage your healthy cells. Administration of schizandra significantly reduced oxidation of lipids, increased the activities of antioxidants and decreased mortality in rats. The study concluded that adriamycin-related cardiotoxicity is linked to antioxidant deficiency, and schizandra treatment helps improve cardiac function and boost antioxidant status.

Schizandra chinensis protects against liver injury caused by a carcinogen called carbon tetrachloride, according to a study published in the journal “Food and Chemical Toxicology” in May 2013. In in vivo study, mice were treated with carbon tetrachloride to induce liver injury. Treatment with schizandra chinensis pollen extract, or SCPE, elevated the activities of antioxidants, prevented the increase in levels of liver enzymes — alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase — and decreased free radical formation in the liver of mice. Higher levels of liver enzymes indicate that you have liver disease. The results demonstrated that SCPE possesses powerful antioxidant activities and offers protection against liver injury.

By adding schizandra berry to your diet, you can protect yourself from inflammation. A study published in the September 2013 issue of “Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology” explored the potential of water extracts of schizandra chinensis fruit to decrease inflammation in macrophages — white blood cells — activated by lipopolysaccharides. The results showed that water extract of schizandra fruit successfully restricted the expression of inflammatory substances in macrophage cells.

Schisandra chinensis enjoys millennia of traditional use for prolong life, retarding the aging process, increasing energy, as a fatigue-fighter, and as a sexual tonic. Schizandra also possesses significant protective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Thus it helps to maintain healthy cells throughout the body. It is considered one of the most highly protective of all medicinal plants, and the berry is included in many traditional herbal formulas for improving energy and mental health.

Schisandra berry demonstrates significant adaptogenic activity. To qualify as an adaptogen, an herb must be completely safe and non-toxic, it must have broad uses for health, and it must specifically reduce stress, both mental and physical. As an adaptogen, schizandra is a potent general tonic, decreasing fatigue, enhancing physical performance, and promoting endurance. The berry counters stress by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the blood. Additionally, schisandra offers great benefits for athletes.

In human studies schisandra berry and its extracts have improved performance among long distance runners, skiers and gymnasts. For this reason schisandra berry is often found on the training tables of Chinese athletes.

Schisandra also offers special benefits for the mind. Several human studies show that schisandra extract improves concentration, coordination and endurance. Schisandra helps to prevent mental fatigue and increases accuracy and quality of work. In various human clinical studies with doctors, students, soldiers and other groups, schisandra demonstrated superior mind-sharpening powers.

As if all these benefits were insufficient, schisandra also offers first-rate liver-protective benefits. Schisandra helps in the treatment of hepatitis, as noted in over 500 cases. In fact, an antihepatitis drug was developed from Schisadrin C.

Chinese folklore says that Schisandra can “calm the heart and quiet the spirit”, and it has a long history in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Schisandra, also known as Magnolia vine due to its ability to grow upwards in a creeping fashion, is a native to Northern China, Russia, and parts of Korea. An ornamental plant found in many fine gardens throughout the world, schisandra is a woody vine with oval pink leaves and bright red berries. The most popular use can be recorded in China and Russia. Its Chinese name is wu-wei-zi, which means five taste fruit. Schisandra has a usually sour, sweet, bitter, warm, and salty taste, hence the name “five taste”. Russian hunters have consumed it for centuries as a tea to help with fatigue.

Instead of starting off your day with a cup of coffee, try some schizandra berry supplements to wake up your mind. And if you’re too stressed at night to sleep, don’t stay up watching late night television; take some schizandra berry supplements to calm you down. How can a single item have such apparently contradictory effects? According to thousands of years of traditional Chinese medicine, schizandra is an “adaptogenic” herb.


In 1958, Russian holistic doctor I.I. Brekhman and his colleague I.V. Dardymov coined the term “adaptogenic” to refer to any herb that “usually has a normalizing action irrespective of the direction of the pathological state.” In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you’re too sleepy or too nervous; either way, schizandra will redirect you from an extreme to an ideal, balanced state. Schizandra may also provide additional medicinal benefits.

Around 2,000 years ago, Shen Nong first referred to schizandra as a valuable adaptogenic tonic. Since then, it has remained one of the most popular adaptogenic herbs in China, where it is taken to promote mental function, strengthen the sex organs and beautify the skin, according to Off the Shelf Natural Health by Mark Mayell.

In Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer, Donald R. Yance Jr. lists many of schizandra’s uses, which include increasing mental and physical exercise capacities, as well as improving adaptability to darkness and other environmental stresses. Yance points out that, unlike caffeine, schizandra stimulates the central nervous system without creating an excitatory effect. Schizandra provides a mental boost without the jitteriness caused by caffeine.

Recent studies suggest that schizandra may offer some additional health benefits. According to Dr. Sheldon Saul Hendler’s Vitamin and Mineral Encyclopedia, some research studies demonstrate that substances extracted from schizandra may help treat liver disorders. Other studies show that schizandra extracts may have cortisone-like effects on the immune system. These benefits definitely deserve more research interest, as schizandra may someday provide safer alternatives for traditional pharmaceutical medications.

Health Benefits of Schizandra

1. Liver Cleansing
 — Schizandra protects the liver from harmful toxins. Radiation and other unwanted exposures are properly escorted from the liver and excreted out of the body. Schizandra liberates the liver from any unwanted toxins. Perfect for springtime cleansing! It has also been used in the treatments of liver diseases such as hepatitis.

2. Longevity Herb 
— helps maintain vitality. Schizandra is a great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant which supports healthy cellular function, making it a superb tool against aging. In China they believe the berry to contain all three primary life energies: Jing, Qi and Shen, these life forces restore vitality and extend life.

3. Skin Health
 — increases skin wellness and beauty with long term use. Schizandra has been used in treatments of skin disorders because of its amazing powers to radiate the skin. With 100 days of use, your skin will be glowing and your energy will be greatly increased. Known as an anti aging herb, it actually works to deactivate free radicals that attack liver cells. Free radicals damage cells throughout your entire body and therefore promote aging.


4. Increases Brain Activity
 — Schizandra will give you a boost of energy. It stimulates the central nervous system giving your brain a renewed sense of focus. It has been used to help adults suffering from ADHD. Studies have shown that schizandra increases concentration and memory. It has the ability to promote mental functioning and increase work productivity.

5. Menopausal Symptoms
 — Schizandra supports the adrenals and balances the hormones in the body. In Korean medicine, schizandra is used to treat cardiovascular issues that are associated with menopause. This magical little berry enhances blood vessel health and aids in better blood flow.

6. Combats Stress 
— Schizandra is an adaptogen, which facilitates the bodies ability to cope with stress. It has also been reported to decrease blood pressure, which is commonly associated with higher stress. Schizandra will help fight adrenal fatigue which is commonly linked to or made worse by chronic stress.

7. Immune Booster 
— Schizandra will enhance your immune system, helping your body to fight off infections. If you suffer from chronic stress you might also suffer from lower immune system functioning. The active ingredients in this berry are known to reverse many issues of the central nervous system, allowing your immune system to take over without the added work of trying to deal with stress, depression and anxieties that you might be facing.

8. Increases Sexual Health
 — Schizandra strengthens the entire body and helps in calling your libido to action. It works to increase sexual endurance and produce more fluids.

9. Combats Insomnia
 — Even though Schizandra aids in mental clarity and stimulation, it is also fantastic in the fight against insomnia. It works to relieve anxieties and stress therefore allowing you to relax at night.

10. Increases Stamina
 — Athletes have had amazing results with using schizandra as a part of their daily regimen. It actually reduces fatigue and improves physical power and endurance. Athletes have shown better performance results with long term use of the berry.

11. Cardiovascular System 
— This berry is very beneficial to your lungs. Not only does schizandra help with good blood flow but will help your body maintain healthy levels of blood sugar as well as lower your cholesterol. It has been used to ease coughing and increase energy and endurance, making it quite the powerful supplement for people with upper respiratory issues, such as asthma.

Women Fitness provides its viewers a complete resource on Schizandra that is a powerhouse of a supplement that would make a great addition in our everyday routine. And provide added benefits of reduced stress, beautify skin, increase endurance and a clean liver.



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