Schisandra or schizandra is the dehydrated mature fruits of a herb known as Schisandra chinensis and belongs to the Schisandraceae family. Although this vine is indigenous to China, this is one of the old herbal medicines raised from the oblivion by the American herbal medicine industry. Ancient Chinese described the herb as a stimulant, astringent, antiseptic and many other things. They have used schisandra traditionally to heal various ailments, and lately Chinese physicians have begun to apply schisandra as a remedy for hepatitis. A number of scientific researches conducted on the herb have revealed its active ingredients that are known to have liver-protective properties.
Taking a cue from the Chinese, now even the herbal practitioners in the West have begun to realize the medicinal value of schisandra. They have hailed the herb as an effective ‘adaptogen', a mediator that helps in enhancing the body's defiance against diseases, anxiety, stress, and weaknesses as well as many other devastating physical conditions. Now scientists as well as physicians emphasize that ‘schisandra is highly beneficial in enhancing energy levels, refill and nurture the viscera, perk up eyesight, improve the activities of the muscles and also influence the energy cells throughout the body'. So much so, that one company marketing herbal medicines containing schisandra has claimed that their product can also prevent untimely aging. And another company claims that is product prepared from the herb not only enables people to lead a healthy and energetic life, but also increases their existence!
Among other things, schisandra is also claimed to be beneficial against premenstrual disorder. It is also said to be helpful in arousing immune protection, facilitate recuperation after surgeries, add stability to body functions, regulate the body mechanisms, shield against radiation and infections, protect against motion sickness, stabilize the blood sugar and blood pressure, provide additional energy during anxiety and tensions as well as improve the vigor. The herb also has beneficial effects in lowering cholesterol levels, protection from diseases, invigorate the RNA-DNA molecules to reconstruct cells, enhance the fitness of the adrenals as well as generate power in the body akin to that in the youthful sportsperson.
A number of scientists have conducted restricted researches on the consequences of schisandra on small animals. In 1966 L. Volicer and his colleagues in Czechoslovakia conducted a similar research and concluded that small measures of schisandra led to a invigorating effect on the animals, the action was just inverted when the intake was increased. They also noted that the actions produced by the intake of schisandra in small animals were akin to that resulted by the use of nicotine. It was also detected that the lignans molecules made up of two phenylpropanoid units were possibly responsible for the liver-protecting properties of schisandra. In fact, scientists have so far segregated 30 such lignans molecules from schisandra. And in 1984 Japanese researcher H. Hikino examined 22 of these to ascertain their capability to lessen the cytotoxic results of carbon-tetrachloride and galactosamine on nurtured liver cells of rats. Hikino's tests revealed that most of the lignans molecules found in schisandra were effective, while some were vigorous. Interestingly, the protective properties of lignans molecules diminished greatly, when Hikino used high doses of galactosamine as a cytotoxic mediator. Hence, Hikino deducted that when administered in high measures for a longer period of time, the lignans molecules present in schisandra themselves acted as toxics to the liver.
After Hikino, several other Japanese scientists have propped into the lignans system and found that two of them wuweizisu C and gomisin A have properties that help in protecting the liver. They discovered that as both wuweizisu C and gomisin A work as antioxidants, they help in protecting the liver by putting off the manufacture of lipid peroxidation from detrimental materials like carbon tetrachloride. Lipid peroxidation results to dangerous lacerations in the liver and it was found that wuweizisu C and gomisin A helped in preventing their formation and protecting the liver. Recently, during the 1990s a number of scientific researches were conducted on the consequences of schisandra or ingredients separated from the herb on the liver. These pharmacological tests tried to ascertain the herb's ill as well as protective influence on human liver. In fact, most of these studies were primarily done by researchers in oriental countries and paper published in their language, which are not available to the American scientists.
All these studies notwithstanding, reports published regarding the stimulant and liver protective capabilities of schisandra is mostly vague and in a prelude stage. Most of the evidences provided by the researchers have been confirmed by medical science. Hence, in order to ascertain the actual properties of schisandra and its medicinal utility, there is a need for a long-term research on the herb and its ingredients. The studies should focus on the herb's effectiveness for different disorders as well as suggest remedial dosages for each. It is, thus, essential to undertake such studies and then experiment the findings first on animals and finally on human beings.
Schisandra is a significant herbal remedy that acts as a stimulant all over the body. It helps in rejuvenating as well as conditioning different organs, especially the liver and the reproductive system. Schisandra is perhaps the most popular sex stimulant or tonic that is beneficial both for men and women. The herb has a reputation to enhance discharge of sexual fluids and is also used as a remedy to increase sexual vigor amongst men. Schisandra and/ or its extracts are widely used to heal hepatitis as well as improve the functioning of the liver.
Even though schisandra is considered and used as a stimulant, the Chinese use the herb to smoothen anxiety as well as quiet heart palpitations. Schisandra is also used for healing insomnia as well sleeping complaints. In fact, the herb is an ideal example of how adaptogenic thymes are used paradoxically to heal different body disorders and also to normalize the body activities. Although, most researches on schisandra are said to be vague and still in preliminary stage, Chinese herbal practitioners have been conventionally using the herb's berries to heal mental disorders like neuroses. Apart from treating patients suffering from lack of memory and bad temper, they use schisandra to improve concentration as well as mental harmonization. It may be noted that these treatments are carried following researches on the substance by their scientists.
Among other uses, schisandra is also used to heal the respiratory disorders like unceasing coughs, gasps and succinctness of breath. It is also useful for treating disorders like night panics, dehydration and urinary occurrence by tuning up the body system and kidney activities. Since the last few years, Chinese herbal practitioners have even begun to use schisandra to cure urticaria or hives and many dermal disorders like eczema. In such cases, the herb or its derivatives are administered to the patients in the form of remedial wine. In addition, schisandra is also used to cure numerous other physical problems like diarrhea, dysentery and even help to restore and improve deteriorating vision and sound perception.
Habitat and cultivation
Schisandra is widely farmed in China, particularly the northeastern part of the country. It is most commonly found in Lianoning, Hebei, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces and is grown by sowing seeds. The seeds are sown in spring and the schisandra fruit is reaped in autumn after it is completely mature.
Studies regarding the properties and use of schisandra have mainly concentrated on lignans that have a distinct liver protection (anti-hepatotoxic) exploits. So far, as many as 30 various kinds of lignans have been recognized in schisandra that produce such results. Scientific investigations since 1972 have revealed that schisandra is very useful while treating liver disorders and one research has shown that remedies containing the herb are highly successful, as high as 76 percent, in healing hepatitis. And the best part of it is that the herb has no adverse actions on the human system. The herb is also proved to be an excellent remedy for arousing the nervous system. It is found to have an active role in enhancing nervous reactions as well as perking up cerebral lucidity. Berries containing lignans are also beneficial in healing gloominess and help to overcome bad temper, depression, and lack of memory. In addition, schisandra is also useful for women as it kindles the uterus and reinforces periodic tightening. According to studies, like ginseng, schisandra is also beneficial for the body to be accustomed to pressure and tension as it has adaptogenic properties.
Schisandra fruit dose per day ranges from 1-6 grams. The tincture of schisandra is also available, take in the amount of 2-4 ml thrice daily.
Side effects and cautions
Schisandra's side effects are very uncommon, but may include decreased appetite, skin rash, and abdominal upset.