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What Are The Health Benefits of Schisandra?

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: June 29, 2022

A plant that's native to China's northern regions, the Schisandra plant has flavorful berries that are sometimes eaten as food but are more commonly used for medicinal purposes.

Considered to be an adaptogen, Schisandra is in a class of substances that proponents believe stimulate the human body's resistance to emotional, environmental, and physical stressors.

What Is Schisandra?

The Latin name for this fruit-bearing vine is Schisandra Chinensis, which translates to "five flavor fruit."

You'll sometimes see the berries on the Schisandra plant referred to as "golden berries." The red-purple berries of Schisandra can be described as having five distinctive tastes:

  • Bitter
  • Salty
  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Pungent

The active ingredient in Schisandra that offers health benefits is lignans.

Typically, Schisandra isn't commonly used as food, but in Russia and Asia, these berries have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Specifically, in traditional Chinese medicine, Schisandra berries are considered to be beneficial to qi, which is the energy or life force that exists in all living things.

Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine believe that Schisandra berries have a positive impact on various bodily pathways or meridians, including the lungs, heart, and kidneys.

What Are Adaptogens?

As we mentioned earlier, Schisandra is an adaptogen. Adaptogens have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese healing traditions. Essentially, an adaptogen helps your body to handle stress and re-center.

Many experts believe that adaptogens help the adrenal glands.

Forms of Schisandra

Schisandra comes in three primary bioactive chemical compounds: A, B, and C. These compounds are extracted from the Schisandra plant's berries.

Schisandra berries are available in liquid, pill, and powdered forms. You can also buy juice or dried whole berries.

You can also buy Schisandra as a supplement in either pill, dried powder, elixir, or extract. Generally, supplements will have a recommended dosage on the packaging.

Health Benefits of Schisandra

Below are some of the most commonly accepted health benefits of golden berries.

1. Liver Disease

In 2013, an animal study concluded that pollen that had been extracted from Schisandra plants had an antioxidant effect against damage that had been done in the livers of tested mice.

Also, Schisandrin C has been found to be effective in treating liver damage present in people who are suffering from both chronic and acute hepatitis, which is a disease of the liver. 

2. Alzheimer's Disease

In 2017, a study found that Schisandrin B may be beneficial for treating Alzheimer's disease. In the study, researchers concluded that Schisandrin B can block the formation of excessive amyloid-beta peptides that are found in the brain.

Among other things, these peptides are responsible for forming a substance called amyloid plaque, which is founds in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. 

Another study showed that this same form of Schisandra may be effective against Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease because the berries have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects on the brain's microglial cells. 

3. Stress

Because it is an adaptogen, Schisandra may help alleviate stress. More trials and studies need to be conducted to determine if this is the case. 

4. Depression

One study found that Schisandra extracts positively impacted mice who were being studied for depression. More similar studies further supported this finding. However, studies haven't been conducted to see if Schisandra can help alleviate depression in human beings. 

5. Menopause

Women with menopausal symptoms may find relief with Schisandra, according to one study conducted in 2016. The study determined that Schisandra can be effective at alleviating menopause symptoms such as sweating, hot flashes, and heart palpitations. 

Risks and Side Effects of Schisandra

The main thing you need to know about Schisandra's side effects is that you should follow the recommended dosage as it appears on the product label. If you take more than the recommended dosage, you may experience side effects such as heartburn. 

Since Schisandra can cause heartburn, you shouldn't take Schisandra if you're being treated for these conditions:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • Ulcers
  • Hyperchlorhydria

Also, Schisandra can have an effect on the appetite and cause people to want to eat less.

Some studies indicate that in some individuals, Schisandra can cause itching. 

Important note: Schisandra can cause uterine contractions, which can potentially lead to miscarriage. For this reason, don't take Schisandra if you're pregnant. 

Drug Interactions

Schisandra may cause interactions with these drugs.

  • Cytochrome P45o 2c9
  • Tacrolimus
  • Warfarin
  • Midazolam
  • Talinolol
  • P-Glycoprotein Substrates
  • Voriconazole
  • Rapamune

FAQs

Below we address some of the most frequently asked questions about the health benefits of Schisandra.

Is Schisandra anti-inflammatory?

One study indicates that Schisandra's anti-inflammatory effects can help with asthma symptoms. Another study shows that Schisandrin B may be beneficial in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease because of its anti-inflammatory effects on the brain's microglial cells.

Does Schisandra have caffeine?

Schisandra is naturally caffeine-free.

Can I take Schisandra before bed?

Yes, you can take Schisandra before bed because it is often used to treat neurasthenia and insomnia. Schisandra exhibits both hypnotic and sedative bioactivity.

Where can I buy Schisandra berries?

You can buy Schisandra berries at many health food stores or gourmet markets. You can also find Schisandra berries, supplements, and extracts on marketplaces online such as Amazon.

Can I take Schisandra every day?

You can take Schisandra every day, but studies have shown that it has been safely used for up to 12 weeks. If you need to take it for longer, speak with your medical practitioner.

How much Schisandra berry should I take?

Follow the recommended dosage on the label of the products you buy.


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