wǔ wèi zi, literally "five-flavor berry;" gomishi (Japan); Limonnik (Russia); magnolia vine
One of the “fifty fundamental” herbs in the Chinese pharmacopeia; ancient Chinese herbalists placed schisandra in the First Class of herbs.
Five flavors benefit the five yin organs: liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, spleen.
Description: The hardy vine in the Magnolia lineage has shiny leaves and grapelike bunches of small, peppercorn-size, bright red fruits (if there are both female and male plants). East Asia is home to about twenty-five species of schisandra. Likes some shade and fertile, moist, well-drained soil; care, requirements like grapes. The hybrid 'Eastern Prince' is self-fertile; seedlings are typically single-sex plants. The best quality berries are bright red, large, plump, oily, and shiny.
Origins: From the Greek schizein, “to cleave,” and andros, “man,” the cleft anther cells on the stamens
Dose: Tea (boil 5 minutes, steep an hour) or infusion= ½ cup 3-4 times a day Powder = ¼-1/3 teaspoonful mixed into food or water. (Better than capsules.) Tincture = 2-4 dropperfuls, 3-4 times a day. (One of the few Chinese herbs used as a tincture.) Works well with astragalus. There is a lovely synergy with Goji that has long been noted.
Cautions: Schisandra fruit is generally considered safe. It occasionally causes heartburn, upset stomach, decreased appetite, stomach pain, skin rash, and itching. Might cause the uterus to contract (miscarriage); could possibly stimulate the central nervous system (increasing intracranial pressure and triggering epileptics); may worsen GERD or peptic ulcers; see drug interactions at end.
Taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy
Properties: Adaptogen, hepatoprotective, antiviral, neuroprotective, antioxidant, cardiotonic, cough-suppressing, expectorant, radioprotection of the fetoplacental system of pregnant women, antioxidant (more effective than vitamin E)
Shisandra is a classic adaptogen that improves the functioning of the central nervous, sympathetic nervous, endocrine, immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems. As with all adaptogens, regular use enhances longevity and helps prevent chronic diseases. Shisandra is said to normal the body’s acid-base balance. Schisandra increases physical working capacity and affords a stress-protective effect against a broad spectrum of harmful factors including heat shock, burns of all kinds, frostbite, immobilization, swimming under load in an atmosphere with decreased air pressure, aseptic inflammation, irradiation, toxic chemicals, and heavy metals.
Constituents: lignans (constituting about 19 percent of the weight of the fruits) schisandrin, deoxy-schisandrin, gomisins, and pregomisin.
promotes humoral and cell-mediated immune responses
calms the spirit and refresh the heart
protects against emotional stress
decreases cortisol levels
aids the kidneys
protects against influenza epidemics
combats physical exhaustion and fatigue
normalizes blood pressure
improves brain efficiency, performance
increases accuracy of movement
increases work capacity , builds strength
mildly stimulates and calms the central nervous system
improves impaired vision, esp myopia in children
improves night vision, reduces hunger, thirst and exhaustion; “it gives forces to follow a sable all the day without food” say native Nanai hunters.
a remedy for colds and sea-sickness, by the Ainu people, who call it repnihat.
speeds wound healing
strong effects on endocrine system: enhances ovarian function; increases sperm production
treats liver conditions
effective against viral hepatitis
reduces blood levels of an enzyme called glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (SGPT) in people with hepatitis. A lower SGPT means less damage to the liver.
protects the liver against chemical- and drug-induced damage
promotes healing of existing damage
increases hepatic glutathione
protect against the dangers of acetaminophen and tetracycline
excessive sweating, night sweats, menopausal sweats
profuse vaginal discharge
spermatorrhea; premature ejaculation
congestion and constriction in the head
Schisandra Has Been Used to Counter
alcoholism * ADHD
anxiety * caffeine’s stimulatory effect
ulcerated skin * tiredness and sleeplessness
stress-induced palpitations * wet coughs, wheezing
chronic sinusitis, otitis * COPD
asthma * PMS
pneumonia * immune deficiency
nervous conditions * viral hepatitis
acute gastrointestinal diseases * stomach and duodenal ulcers
allergic dermatitis * bad dreams
chronic diarrhea, dysentery * memory loss.
sleep problems (insomnia) * nerve pain
radiation * motion sickness
counteracts the effects of sugar
gastric hyper- and hypo-secretion, chronic gastritis
physical trauma (burns, extreme cold, oxygen deprivation)
Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated the efficiency of Schisandra in helping those with depression, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric problems.
Stories, Lore, Magic:
Schisandra is staggeringly popular in Asia, where it is known as the “Quintessence of Herbs.”
It is the only herb known that tonifies all three of the Three Treasures (Jing, Qi and Shen). Jing is primary essence; it determines one’s life span, strength and vitality. Chi is life force. Shen is consciousness and emotional energy.
It is the only herb that enters all twelve of the meridian systems to nourish all of our internal organs and functions.
It is the only herb that simultaneously tonifies all five elements (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal).
First mentioned in Emperor Shen Nong’s herbal compendium in 2700 BCE
Huai Nan Gong, after consuming Schizandra for many years, didn’t get wet in water and wasn’t burned by fire. He was given the name “Jade Girl,” to signify his eternal youth and radiance.
In ancient imperial Asian courts, Schizandra revered as a beauty tonic – and as a powerful aphrodisiac.
An official drug in the Russian Pharmacopeia since 1961.
Tens of tons of berries are used annually in Russia to make juice, wines, extracts, and sweets.
Studies on isolated organs, tissues, cells and enzymes find Schisandra affects smooth muscles, uterus myotonic activity, arachidonic acid release, biosynthesis of leukotriene B(4) in leukocytes, platelet activating factor activity, carbohydrate-phosphorus metabolism, the formation of heat shock protein and polyamines, tissue respiration and oxygen consumption, and the tolerance of an organism to oxygen intoxication. The lignans, schisandrin, and gomisin A induce interleukin (IL)-8, macrophage inflammatory protein-1β, and granulocyte-macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) release by THP-1 cells.
Possible Drug Interactions
Schisandra might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications, specifically: Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates such as celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), fluvastatin (Lescol), glipizide (Glucotrol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), phenytoin (Dilantin), piroxicam (Feldene), tamoxifen (Nolvadex), tolbutamide (Tolinase), torsemide (Demadex), and warfarin (Coumadin); and Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates, such as lovastatin (Mevacor), clarithromycin (Biaxin), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), diltiazem (Cardizem), estrogens, indinavir (Crixivan), triazolam (Halcion). Schisandra might increase how much tacrolimus (Prograf) is absorbed from the gut.