Schisandra is a berry that grows on climbing vines, and is typically found in China and Russia, although it can be grown in other parts of the world as well. It is cultivated in long rows and harvested in mid to late summer. Its Chinese name is Wu Wei Zi, or five flavored berry because it is sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent.
Schisandra is a significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that helps maintain healthy cells. It has adaptogenic properties that balance cortisol in the body so that it is neither too high nor too low[i]. Its strongest effects are in reducing stress responses in the body, particularly during intense workouts, to help increase endurance, decrease fatigue and improve overall performance.
It can also improve concentration, attention and mental speed, reduce high blood pressure, prevent premature aging, help prevent motion sickness, help with diabetes, and can help reduce the need for antibiotics when fighting pneumonia.
How to Use It
Recommended dosages depend on the form you choose to take. Studies that have found results have used an extract that is 3.4% schisandrin with a total dosage of 91 mg per day. Tinctures are often 5% fruit and with a dosage of 20 to 30 drops twice per day. Seed powder is typically 0.5 to 1.5 g twice per day for 20 to 30 days. Make sure to follow the recommendations on the packaging of the product you choose.
Schisandra is considered safe to take, however taking it with other medications that are p-glycoproten substrates (such as tactrolimus, Coumadin and others), may require a dosage adjustment. Schisandra may stimulate the central nervous system, so those with epilepsy or high brain pressure should be cautious. It may also increase stomach acids, so those with gastroesophageal reflex disease (GERD) or peptic ulcers should be careful.
[i] Sun, Li, Wang, GH., Wu, B., et all. Effects of schisandra on the function of the pituitary-adrenal cortex, gonadal axis and carbohydrate metabolism in rats undergoing experimental chronic psychological stress, navigation and strenuous exercise. US National Library of Medicine. PMID: 19323371 (2009). Weblink: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19323371