Schisandra is a plant used in Traditional Chinese Medicine that holds powerful healing properties. We’ll tell you the benefits of schisandra, as well as how to use it.
Schisandra is a fruit native to the forests of Northern China. Schisandra extract has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. It is known to boost chi, which represents your life force. Chi is an energy current said to flow through our bodies as well as all objects around us. For this reason, the plant is commonly used to treat liver conditions and stomach disorders, and is used as a tonic to improve vitality. Schisandra is also used for conditions concerning sleep and restfulness, such as fatigue.
Schisandra’s Chinese name is ‘wu wei zi’. This translates to “five-flavored fruit”, which reflects the five flavors of the plant’s red-purple berries: sweet, salty, bitter, pungent, and sour. The plant is native to Asia and North America, although it will grow in most cool, temperate climates. You can even grow it yourself as an environmentally-friendly addition to your garden.
Schisandra has become a popular natural remedy in Western societies for various health conditions. Learn more about the purported benefits below.
What Are the Benefits of Schisandra?
Schisandra can be used to treat a variety of health conditions. Although schisandra has been tested on animals extensively, very few human trials have been performed so far. Schisandra may be used:
- To treat lung problems and coughs. Although there is not much research done on humans yet, research on animals shows that schisandra is helpful at treating lung problems. A 2015 study on guinea pigs shows that schisandra is effective at reducing cough and pulmonary inflammation in the animal.
- To treat liver disease. A 2014 study shows that schisandra prevents alcohol-induced fatty liver disease in rats. This is because the schisandra plant is packed full of antioxidants.
- To reduce sweating. A 2016 study shows that schisandra is effective at alleviating menopausal symptoms, including sweating, hot flashes and palpitations.
- To reduce stress. Schisandra is known as an adaptogenic agent, which means it helps balance hormones naturally, including physical and physiological stress. Schisandra may therefore be useful in helping reduce symptoms of stress associated with mental health conditions such as anxiety. A study from 2007 found that Schisandra reduced stress levels in rabbits by suppressing the production of cortisol.
Are There Any Downsides to Schisandra?
Like any form of medication, schisandra may not be suitable for everyone. Some of the downsides of the plant include:
- You cannot consume schisandra if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- If you consume too much, it can result in side effects such as heartburn.
- Some people may be allergic to schisandra, and may come out in a rash.
How Can You Use Schisandra?
Most health food stores will sell schisandra in a variety of forms, but to reduce packaging it’s always better to grow or forage for it yourself (but make sure you’ve identified the correct berry!). There are four main ways to consume schisandra:
- Tincture. This is made with a 1:6 ratio of liquid (water) to pure extract.
- Powder. You can consume up to 3 grams daily by eating the powdered schisandra fruit or fruit extract.
- Whole berries. While the taste can be a bit too sour for some, you can consume just a few berries a day to get the benefits.
- Making schisandra teas, tonic or wine. You can make your own calming tea using schisandra. Brew up to three grams of the plant in hot water for 40–60 minutes. To make an infusion and to add more flavor, try adding other ingredients to the tea, so you can enjoy the benefits of ginger and other healing plants as well.
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