What is Schisandra?
Often when we see berries, we think a delicious snack or a great healthy addition to our morning yogurt. However, there are some berries that are purely medicinal, used to make teas and health tonics.
The complex taste of Schisandra berries should not deter you, however, when taken as a supplement, this healing berry can provide a wealth of health benefits from boosting your energy to detoxing your liver.
Schisandra is also known by its scientific name of Schisandra chinensis, Schisandra sphenanthera or Magnolia-vine. The fruit (berry) is sometimes called magnolia berry or five flavor fruit.
History of Schisandra
Schisandra have a long and rich history. They first gained recognition by Chinese emperors and Taoist masters, used in medicine along with goji berry and ginseng. Further down the line, in the 1960s, Schisandra berries gained recognition in Russia for being an adaptogen.
This means that it helps the body adapt to stress, preventing the negative side effects of stress from taking over your body. Listed in the official USSR medicine handbook, Schisandra berries are effective in preventing adrenal fatigue and heart problems.
Health Benefits of Schisandra
There are many reasons why Schisandra berries have been used in different cultures throughout the world for centuries. The berries are converted into medicinal teas and tonics because they promote longevity and help shield the body from various ailments and illnesses.
1) Improves Liver Function
One of the most salient benefits of Schisandra berries is its ability to protect the liver. Schisandra help to support liver function and protect the liver from damage due to its content of lignans.
Several preliminary studies have found that Schisandra helps to improve liver function and help to prevent the development of fatty liver disease.
Another study in 2010 found that Schisandra help prevent the body’s rejection of a new liver post-transplant. This is due to the fact that Schisandra encourage the development of a compound called Tacrolimis.
Finally, Schisandra help improve liver function by helping to cleanse the liver of toxins. This not only helps to take the stress off the liver, which is responsible for filtering toxins out of the body, but it also significantly helps with preserve the overall health of the body by ridding your body of harmful waste.
2) Supports and Protects Body from Stress
Another big draw to Schisandra is its ability to protect and support the body during times of stress, whether it is mental or physical. Schisandra is considered an adaptogen, meaning, it helps the body adapt to stress.
When we experience stress, our body experiences lots of changes that are often detrimental to our body, which can lead to weight gain, sleep deprivation, and heart problems, just to name a few.
One big factor of these stress-induced conditions is the release of hormones that occur when we are under pressure. These hormones can have a domino effect on our body, greatly impacting the way we feel and our overall health.
Fortunately, Schisandra helps to control the release of hormones and helps the body adapt to stress. When your body is better able to cope with stress, you are less likely to suffer from illness and mental fatigue.
When you increase your intake of adaptogens, you are less likely to fall prey to the effects of anxiety, stress, mental fatigue, mental illness, and even environmental toxins.
Schisandra improve the function of the adrenal glands, which help to balance the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that can wreak havoc on your body when produced in abundance.
When your stress hormones are under control, your overall health is greatly improved. Keeping your hormones in balance boosts your immune system, improves heart health, increases your energy, and maintains mental health.
3) Reduces Inflammation
Due to the high antioxidant content of this particular berry, Schisandra helps to reduce inflammation and prevent damage caused by oxidative stress. Antioxidants help to scavenge free radicals roaming the body. Antioxidants enter the body via toxins in the environment, food, bad habits, etc.
Regularly consuming antioxidants helps to minimize the effects of these toxins by seeking them out and neutralizing. Often, antioxidants can help to reverse the damage done free radicals. Free radicals roaming around the body can cause tissue damage, premature aging of the skin, and cellular damage.
Inflammation is often caused by free radicals. When your body experiences inflammation, it can lead to the development of such diseases as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
4) Boosts Cognitive Function
Schisandra is often used because it boosts energy and prevents mental fatigue due to stress. Schisandra also helps cognition by encouraging clearer, sharper thinking. It also provides longevity, preventing mental fatigue, as previously mentioned.
Often, when people need to be clear headed, they double their dose of coffee and caffeine. Unfortunately, this can come with a whole slew of negative side effects, such as the jitters, nausea, and an irregular heart beat. Schisandra, on the other hand, helps to boost energy and mental alertness without the downsides of caffeine overload.
5) Improves and Protects the Skin
An extract of Schisandra called Schisandra chinensis helps to protect the skin. Living day to day, our skin is subjected to innumerable conditions and withstands constant abuse. From going out in the sun, experiencing windy days, freezing in the cold– not to mention allergic reactions, stress, not getting enough sleep, etc.– we put our skin through a lot.
After a while, the skin can start to look a little tired and lose its elasticity and glow. Using an Schisandra helps to protect the skin and help repair damage caused by the elements. Schisandra chinensis also helps treat and prevent the development of dermatitis and inflammatory skin conditions.
How to Take Schisandra
First and foremost, before taking Schisandra, or any other supplement for that matter, you should always speak to your physician. Once you have talked to your physician, there are various methods you can use to take Schisandra.
Pills/Supplements: Schisandra can usually be found online or at your local health food store. Follow the dosage instructions on the box, which is usually recommends that you can take one to three grams with meals.
Tea: Schisandra is commonly made into a tea or tonic. A Schisandra can easily be made by steeping one to three grams in hot water for about an hour. You can double the health benefits by adding other herbs such as licorice root or cinnamon.
Powder: A powder form of Schisandra or Schisandra extract is also available. It is recommended not to exceed more than three grams a day.
Tincture: You can make a Schisandra by combining the dried fruit extract of the berry with some water. The recommended ratio is 1 one-part extract for 6 parts water.
The recommended dosage of Schisandra tincture is 20-30 drops per day. If you are not interested in making your own tincture, you may be able to find some that are already made.
Some Considerations and Potential Side Effects
Schisandra is considered generally safe, however, it is important to note that this supplement has not been subjected to rigorous scientific testing.
Because Schisandra has not been rigorously tested, it’s not currently known if it is safe for the use of children, women who are pregnant, and women who are nursing. It’s important to talk to your doctor before taking Schisandra in any form.
Another reason to speak to your physician before using Schisandra is that it may counteract or affect other medications and supplements. Some studies have found that Schisandra may interfere with drugs used to treat cancer.