Medically review by Kim Langdon
One of the most exciting things is learning about new and powerful foods or supplements we can use to optimize health.
When we look to nature, it doesn't disappoint.
Schisandra is a super berry and a lesser-known adaptogen like ashwagandha. Both just so happen to be red berries!
Adaptogens are basically a set of herbs that increase the body's resilience and tolerance for stress, thus reducing its harmful impacts on our health - namely with disruption to our hormones and neurological processes.
Schisandra chinensis is most commonly known as a Chinese traditional medicine or TCM, but Russian scientists also had a lot to do with its rise in the 1960s.
They studied it and discovered loads of benefits over 40 years before deeming it a genuine medicine! You can read more about the benefits in this study which outlines the Russians' findings.
While schisandra is relatively new to the scene and we aren't hearing too much about it in western society, we love its unique compounds and promise for being a functional medicine or part of your holistic health mission.
It actually impacts almost every organ in the body (and positively so), which means schisandra's benefits are just about endless.
Besides, one of the most convincing factors of any adaptogen is its lack of side effects, so we think this stuff is pretty safe to use!
Schisandra for adrenal health
Most adaptogens promote hormone balance and the schisandra berry is no different.
It does this by giving our cortisol levels a bit of regulation, which generally implies that even when our bodies are under stress, they are reacting differently at the core which is why regular supplementation with schisandra can be highly beneficial.
Lowered cortisol levels not only benefit us in the short-term by eliminating our fight or flight response to stressful situations, but they benefit us in the long-term by improving brain function, immune function, physical endurance, and even metabolic health.
In fact, one of the most common reasons for the body's resistance to weight loss is chronically elevated cortisol.
Oh, and one of the most common outcomes of chronically elevated cortisol is adrenal fatigue.
Schisandra for liver function
I already mentioned that schisandra hasn't been studied very much in relation to human health, but one of the key focuses of the research that has been done is liver health and functioning.
Basically, it comes down to the increase of enzyme production we'll see with schisandra supplementation - specifically liver detoxifying enzymes.
Liver health is a vague term, though. What does it even mean?
When we break it down, we see that these liver-loving benefits from schisandra can mostly be traced back to its ability to increase the body's antioxidant capacity.
This also includes increased protection against infections, indigestion and GI disorders plus improved circulation, digestion and more efficient waste removal in the body.
Finally, its liver cleansing properties can be helpful in patients with chronic hepatitis, fatty liver disease and even benefit patients after a liver transplant.
Schisandra for a healthy sex life
Hormone balance has a lot do to with our overall sexual health, unsurprisingly.
Whether fertility is your goal, or you just want to maintain a healthy and happy sex life, schisandra can keep your sex drive UP and your sex hormones happy so it's a win-win.
It helps to produce estrogen which can be especially effective in keeping a healthy sex drive up for women, and it also lends itself well to preventing sexual dysfunction like impotence.
Read more about some of our favorite foods for better sexual function and libido.
Schisandra for inflammation management
Inflammation is a natural process, and we generally only hear about its negative side effects.
Truly, though, it's something we have to pay some mind to!
It's part of the link to our adrenal health, our liver health, our immune function and so much more.
It's a big part of disease and autoimmunity, and chronic inflammation leaves the body in a vulnerable state.
Schisandra has been studied to show reduced inflammation as it helps to inhibit the production of things like nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2.
Schisandra's anti-inflammatory benefits give way to a trickle down effect of other benefits; it can help protect our arteries from hardening, regulate blood sugar handling, prevent diabetes and keep the body at proper pH levels - just because our inflammation is under control!
Pretty neat, huh?
Finally, it's worth noting that schisandra has also been studied in cancer patients, and its anti-inflammatory properties are chemo-protective, help to repair tissue and more.
Additional benefits of schisandra
We mentioned that schisandra positively impacts nearly every organ in the body, right?
These main benefits of use tend to have big impacts down the line, like how estrogen production not only helps sexual function, but it also helps prevent bone loss!
Here are a few other interesting "side effects" of schisandra.
- Bone healing and prevention of osteoporosis
- Mental clarity and working capacity
- Effective and natural depression treatment
- Better immune function and a stronger immune system
- Fantastic antioxidant effects that fight free radicals and cleanse the body of heavy metals
How to use schisandra
While the berry might look a bit like any other, don't be fooled! It's not as "sweet" as it sounds.
The berries contain a variety of flavors - five of them, specifically - much like the wide range of the 'six tastes' we see portrayed in Ayurvedic medicine: bitter, sweet, sour, salty and hot.
You can use this super berry in a variety of different ways, but if you choose to make a "brew" of it, you should know what to expect!
Powder or extract
You can take up to 3 grams of schisandra in powder or extract form daily.
Pre-made capsule supplements
You can take these 1-3 times per day with meals.
Make or purchase a tincture
Mixing pure schisandra extract with water at around a 1:6 ratio is a great way to make a tincture at home.
Make a tonic
Sip on around 3 grams steeped in hot water about an hour before drinking, and add other favorite herbs like turmeric and cinnamon - both with lots of health benefits!
Get a good recipe for schisandra tonic from Mommypotamus.
If you enjoyed this article, make sure to hit the share button! We hope you learnt something new about super berry schisandra today.
This article was fact checked for accuracy by Dr. Kim Langdon, MD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
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Alexander JS, Wang Y. ?Therapeutic potential of Schisandra chinensis extracts for treatment of hypertension. Hypertens Res. 2012;35:892–893. doi: 10.1038/hr.2012.101.
Panossian A, Wikman G. ?Pharmacology of Schisandra chinensis Bail.: an overview of Russian research and uses in medicine. J Ethnopharm. 2008;118:183–212. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.04.020.
Shi YM, Zhong WM, Chen H, et al. ?New lignans from the leaves and stems of Schisandra chinensisand their anti-HIV-1 activities. Chin J Chem. 2014;32:734–740. doi: 10.1002/cjoc.201400001.
Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She delivered over 2000 babies to mothers in a suburban Midwestern community.