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Schisandra: The Great Equalizer

January 04, 2018

Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) has been used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for more than 2,000 years.

It’s one of the top fifty herbs used in China.

First mentioned in the ancient Shen Nong Pharmacopoeia, schisandra was a favorite choice of Chinese royalty for preserving stamina and youth.

Today, it remains popular as a rejuvenating, anti-aging herb, and as a tonic for energy and libido.

Schisandra (sometimes spelled Schizandra) is native to northeast China and Russia. Ancient Russian hunters brought it along as a food and energy source for long journeys.

Russian pilots took schisandra to combat oxygen deprivation during flights in World War 2. It has long played a role in Russian herbalism, and has been studied by Russian scientists for decades.

Five Flavors

Schisandra’s Chinese name, Wu Wei Zi, translates to Five Flavored Berry, because it offers all five flavors (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent).

It’s this quality and history as a superior tonic, which makes schisandra an ideal herb for people of all shapes and sizes.

The Traditional Chinese Medicine approach is tailored towards an individual’s needs and energetic balance.

Very few plants are thought to be helpful for everyone. Schisandra is an herb that crosses these barriers.

The great equalizer, schisandra is believed to be able to energetically match any person who uses it.

An Adaptogen for Mind and Body

As an adaptogen, schisandra improves physical performance and fights fatigue and exhaustion. It’s a great endurance herb that helps balance levels of stress hormones like cortisol in the blood.

Schisandra is a popular sports herb, regularly used by Chinese athletes. Studies reveal schisandra can improve performance for runners, skiers and gymnasts.

In addition, schisandra supports brain activity and mental health.It’s a workaholic among herbs, fighting lethargy and improving quality of work. Schisandra may even increase accuracy in the workplace.

Preliminary research shows schisandra improves concentration, coordination, and endurance. More human studies are needed to determine the full scope of its benefits.

Adrenal Energizer

In the West, schisandra is best known for promoting adrenal health. It’s a non habit forming energizer for people dealing with chronic stress and adrenal exhaustion.

Schisandra both calms and mildly stimulates the nervous system. Some research suggests it counteracts the effects of caffeine- good news for people with the coffee jitters!

It works especially well combined with licorice and eleuthero in a formula like Adrenal Daily, which energizes and supports the proper functioning of the adrenal glands.

Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory Herb for the Liver, Heart & Skin

Schisandra is a rich source of vitamin C and lignans that offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Similar to milk thistle, schisandra can protect the liver from toxins and viral pathogens.

It’s frequently used with success to help manage hepatitis naturally. In fact, schisandra has been used in hepatitis drug development.

Studies find schisandra balances blood pressure, fights coughs, and can aid breathing for people with asthma. It encourages natural immune strength, and can sharpen vision.

As an antihistamine, schisandra improves allergies that worsen from stress or exposure to toxins. Schisandra berries also soften the skin, produce a healthy youthful glow, and even moisten dry eyes.

Equalizing Tonic

Some people notice an immediate energizing effect from schisandra. Other people will experience its benefits over time, as they begin to feel better overall, using this plant.

I find schisandra is a great choice for people with low blood pressure and people recovering from illness.

Many herbalists also use it to aid weight loss because, like other berries, schisandra supports sugar metabolism, and mildly curbs appetite.


Foster, S. (2000, April/May) Schisandra: A Rising Star. Retrieved from Mother Earth Living,
Ip, S.P. & Mak, D.H. (1996, June) Effect of a lignan-enriched extract of Schisandra chinensis on aflatoxin B1 and cadmium chloride-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Pharmacology and Toxicology 78(6), 413–416. Retrieved from
Kilham, C. (2010) Schisandra: Ultimate Super Berry. Retrieved from Medicine Hunter,
Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2008, July) Pharmacology of Schisandra chinensis Bail.: an overview of Russian research and uses in medicine. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 118(2), 183-212. Retrieved from
Yan, T., Shang, L., Wang, M., Zhang, C., Zhao, X., B,i K., et al. (2016, June) Lignans from Schisandra chinensis ameliorate cognition deficits and attenuate brain oxidative damage induced by D-galactose in rats. Metabolic Brain Disease, 31(3), 653-61. Retrieved from