From boosting the immune system and enhancing the flagging energy levels, to improving eyesight and skin health, the health benefits of Schisandra chinensis are numerous. Although not approved by the FDA, modern medical research does indicate that the herb is potentially beneficial to our health.
|Did You Know?
Schisandra chinensis in Chinese means five-flavored berry. The berries of the herb have an unusual taste, which is a combination of sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, and salty; hence the name.
Long famed for its high medicinal value, Schisandra chinensis is being used extensively in both traditional and modern Chinese medicine. This plant, which is essentially a woody wine growing up to 9 m, has its origins in the wilds of Northern China and the Russian Far East. The fruits of the plant, commonly referred to as berries, are popular for their health benefits. It is the fruit that is used for various medicinal purposes.
Regulates Blood Sugar
Schisandra chinensis may be helpful in the treatment of diabetes as it helps in reducing blood sugar levels. An animal study reported in the edition of February 2011 of ‘International Journal of Molecular Sciences’ observed that extracts of the fruit displayed significant hypoglycemic effect in rats put on sucrose. Results are encouraging and further studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy of the fruit extract in reducing blood sugar.
In countries like Russia, the herb is a popular eye-healthy food. In fact, it is registered as a medicine to treat eye problems. Having extracts of Schisandra berries as prescribed, is helpful to improve eyesight. In fact, the Schisandra berry tea is reputed to boost night vision and even expand the field of vision. So people with a poor night vision and those with near-sightedness may benefit from drinking this tea regularly.
Boosts Liver Health
Schisandra chinensis has a long history of use as a liver tonic. It stimulates certain enzymes present in liver cells that are responsible for generating glutathione, an antioxidant. The herb essentially boosts the synthesis of glutathione, the liver’s natural antioxidant. The antioxidant plays a key role in detoxifying the liver, which actually works in strengthening it. Animal studies indicate that the herb may play an important role in strengthening the liver.
It is observed that a specific enzyme formerly known as SGPT increases when the liver is affected by hepatitis. In one study, fruit extracts of the herb were able to lower concentrations of SGPT within the liver cells. No wonder, extracts of the fruit are used to treat hepatitis, a condition marked by inflammation of the liver.
Adaptogenic herbs like Schisandra chinensis are natural substances that help adjust the body’s response to different types of stress including emotional and physical. These herbs are often referred to as anti-stress adaptogens as they help in lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Moreover, these herbs also display immune-boosting properties, which works to combat and ward off various diseases. These herbs boost energy levels by improving resistance to fatigue. So, for overall well-being, adaptogenic herbs like Schisandra chinensis are certainly a good choice.
Poor sex drive can be treated with this herb. Tea made from the berries of this plant is purportedly a sexual tonic. It is believed that the berry enhances ‘water (sexual fluids) of the genital areas’, which works to elevate libido.
Enhances Lung Function
Schisandra berries can also enhance lung function as they are excellent sources of vitamin C and moreover, display potent antioxidant activity. As we know, vitamin C is crucial to protect and keep the lungs healthy. No wonder, Schisandra berry tea and syrup are regarded as lung tonics. The berries are also anti-inflammatory, meaning taking it in the form of tea can also help treat inflammatory conditions of the respiratory tract such as asthma.
Promotes Better Sleep
Trouble sleeping? Well, taking schisandra berry supplements can come to your rescue. The herb acts as a mild sedative. It produces a calming effect, which may assist to promote sleep.
Improves Mental Acuity
According to Chinese medicine, the herb is a brain-boosting food, which can enhance cognitive ability. Berries of Schisandra chinensis may help promote mental function. Due to their high antioxidant activity, they can safeguard the brain against free-radical damage, which may contribute in enhancing mental work capacity. Studies have also shown that the extracts of the fruit can enhance mental focus by increasing concentration and attention span.
Improves Skin Health
Using this herb is a natural way to enhance the beauty of the skin. Regarded as an anti-aging herb due to its high antioxidant capacity, usage of the herb can work wonders to promote skin health. It can keep the skin safe from the damaging effects of wind and UV radiation. It can also help treat skin problems like acne or psoriasis.
In the Asian culture, particularly the Chinese, the herb is considered as a natural remedy for motion sickness, diarrhea, dysentery, eczema, rashes, difficulty hearing, premenstrual syndrome, night sweats, wheezing, depression, and anxiety.
|Using Schisandra Chinensis
Tea made from the Schisandra berries is the most common way of using the herb. In fact, it is said that to reap maximum benefits, taking the tea daily for consecutively 100 days is advisable. Although dried berries of the herb are available in the form of powder and tincture, one should not consume it directly. Instead, one can add these extracts in tea or any other energy drink. The herb is also sold in the form of supplements and syrup, which have to be taken as instructed by your health care provider.
Schisandra chinensis is a uterine stimulant, meaning that it can bring about contractions in a woman’s uterus, which can lead to premature labor or miscarriage. So, women are advised not to use the herb during pregnancy.
The herb can unsettle your stomach, particularly when it is taken in high doses. So caution is advised when taking the herb and dosage adjustment may be necessary to alleviate the symptoms of stomach upset. Apart from stomach upset, the herb can cause reduction in appetite. Taking this herb can also aggravate digestive problems such as heartburn.
Schisandra chinensis, particularly when consumed in excess, can cause skin rashes that may trigger persistent itchy sensation.
The herb can interact with anticoagulants like warfarin, which can reduce the efficacy of the drug. Hence those on warfarin are advised to avoid taking this herb.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a qualified herbalist.