Schisandra – What is it?

 

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Schisandra is a berry that grows in China.  It is used as medicine and not as a fruit.  Traditional Chinese Medicine has used this berry for centuries.  Schisandra is one of the herbs that are considered adaptogens.  Adaptogens are herbs that benefit the body by enhancing its ability to deal with stressors.  Medicinehunter has an excellent explanation of adaptogens.

Schisandra has a wide variety of uses such as

  • Sports enhancement
  • Anxiety relief
  • Preventing night sweats
  • Preventing frequent urination
  • PMS
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis
  • Anti-aging

 Liver

First and foremost this herb has been used in TCM (Traditonal Chinese Medicine) as a liver tonic.  Even in the west it is used to treat hepatitis.  Schisandra improves liver function in people with hepatitis by lowering the level of the enzyme SGPT (glutamic-pyruvic transaminase).  High levels of this enzyme mean more liver damage.

Stress

Schisandra has been used to treat stress disorders of all kinds.  It works with the central nervous system to both stimulate and calm it and it also works with the adrenal glands.  Schisandra reduces the level of stress hormones in the blood stream.  Adaptogens like Schisandra are a whole body tonic which allows your body to return to a balanced state.

Schisandra has been successfully used for

  • Insomnia
  • Mood Swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Mental and Physical exhaustion

Physical and Mental Enhancement

Schisandra reduces fatigue and enhances physical performance.  Athletes can benefit from this as well as those who tire easily and those peri-menopausal and menopausal women that have exhaustion as a symptom.

Schisandra also helps mental performance.  It is excellent for mental fatigue, concentration, accuracy and coordination.

 Anti Aging

Schisandra has strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  These properties allow it to protect cellular health and prevent cell damage.

Along with protecting the cells, it has a centuries old reputation for promoting soft, beautiful, smooth skin.  It is thought that Schisandra does this by balancing out the moisture levels in the skin.

For centuries Schisandra has been taken in an effort to promote longevity.

 General Benefits

Schisandra is thought to benefit by lowering blood glucose levels, cholesterol, blood pressure and stimulating the immune system.  Not a lot of research is out there on these topics and it is just recently being looked at for benefits in cancer.

Perhaps the blood pressure reduction seems likely because Schisandra is a vasso-dilator.  This means that it allows the blood to flow more freely thereby reducing blood pressure.

Interactions and Contraindications

Not much is out on the internet about interactions for this herb and it is considered safe.  However, in newer research some interactions have been found.

Acording to Phyllis A. Balch, author of Prescription for Herbal Healing Schisandra has the following interactions

  • Digoxin
  • Phenobarbital
  • Benzodiazepine tranquilizers like diazepoxide (Librium) diazepam (valium) increases effectiveness thereby allowing for lower doses of these.

****Do not change your medications without consulting your doctor****

In addition I found nothing stating this but logic makes me caution you about taking Schisandra with any blood thinners such as Warfarin.  I would also recommend that if you are taking an herbal vasso-dilator such as Gingko Biloba do not mix the two.  Stop the first one for a few days before trying Schisandra.

Schisandra is not recommended for people with epilepsy, that are pregnant or trying to get pregnant and those with intracranial pressure.

People with GERD should not take Schisandra as it has occasionally caused stomach upset and heartburn.

Rarely it has caused hives, loss of appetite and can occasionally increase bile.  Those with gallstones and bile duct blockage should also avoid Schisandra.

Overall this herb has some pretty amazing benefits.  Long centuries of use have proven its effectiveness and modern research is also discovering the benefits of Schisandra.

 

Reference

Balch, Phyllis A., Prescription for Herbal Healing 2nd Edition, Avery a division of Penguin Group, New York