Plant Family: 

Schizandraceae

Habitat & Cultivation: 

Schisandra chinensis is endemic to the northwest of China (Heilongjiang/Mandzuria), Korea, and the far east of Russia (the Primorsky, Amursky and Khabarovsky regions, the Kuril Islands of Schikitan, Kunashir and Iturup, and the Sachalin islands.

 

As far back as 2697 BCE Schisandra was classified as superior. Schisandra can be found in old Chinese text as being used by warriors to stoke their internal flame and help with waning strength. Historically, Schisandra has been used in promoting overall well-being and enhancing bodily vitality. Schisandra is an adaptogen sometimes used for stress and anxiety. Other uses include respiratory disease, asthma, insomnia, kidney problems and diarrhea.

Parts Used/Collection:

The berries are used medicinally. 

Herbal Actions: 

  • Astringent

  • sedative

  • aphrodisiac

  • kidney and skin tonic

  • anxiolytic

  • hepatoprotective

  • adaptogenic

  • Anti-inflammatory

Indications: 

  • Lung tonic, kidney tonic, adrenal tonic

  • Liver: protects the liver from toxic damage and overall improves liver function

  • Neuro: improves concentration, improves fine coordination

  • Decreases fatigue and enhances endurance

 

Contraindications: 

  • Heartburn

  • Allergic reaction

  • Can reduce drug clearance by inhibiting CYP3A and CYP1A2 pathways

 

Thompson (2012) also lists the following safety considerations:

  • Can potentially aggravate external pathogens, so avoid at the onset of acute infections.

  • Yin tonifying - can potentially cause digestive upset in some individuals.

  • Long term use theoretically not recommended as it can potentially tax the adrenals without lifestyle changes - recommended break after 3 months. In recommended doses, this is an adrenal tonic (adaptogen) even for long term use.  Always formulate along with balancing herbs if long term use is indicated.

Plant Constituents: 

  • Lignans

  • Flavonoids

  • a-cubebenoate

  • Phytosterols

  • Volatile oils

  • Nutrients

System Affinities:

  • Lungs

  • Liver

  • Kidney

  • Adrenal

  • Neuro

Energetics:

warming, moistening, drying

 

Schisandra has been likened to “a thinking herb” - that is an herb that “gives a person/organ/tissue what it needs”. 5 different flavors are represented by this herb - bitter, pungent, sour, salty, and sweet. In Chinese medicine, schisandra is used as a LU, KD, and LV tonic, as well as an herb to benefit qi, tonify yin, and “quiet the spirit and calm the heart”. (Thompson, 2012)

Safety: 

As discussed in the powerpoint for this week, contraindications/safety considerations for schisandra include: heartburn, allergic rx, and caution when taking with other medications (inhibits CYP3A and CYP1A2 pathways which can decrease drug clearance metabolized via these pathways). Safety Class 1.

 

Thompson (2012) also lists the following safety considerations:

  • Can potentially aggravate external pathogens, so avoid at onset of acute infections.

  • Yin tonifying - can potentially cause digestive upset in some individuals.

  • Long term use theoretically not recommended as it can potentially tax the adrenals without lifestyle changes - recommended break after 3 months. In recommended doses, this is an adrenal tonic (adaptogen) even for long term use.  Always formulate along with balancing herbs if long term use is indicated.

Dosage:

Tincture 1-3 ml 3 x day

Decoction/Infusion 4-8 oz 3 x day

Eaten dried or fresh 10 berries / day

Personal Experience: 

I used the tincture 3x a day to help with my mental focus. 

Research:

  • Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press. Rochester, VT. 

  • Mills, S. & Bone, K. (2005). The essential guide to herbal safety. London, England: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone

  • Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2008). Pharmacology of Schisandra chinensis Bail.: An overview of Russian research and uses in medicine. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 118(2), 183-212. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.04.020

  • Thompson, M. (2012). Schisandra: Schisandra chinensis. Retrieved from: https://www.herbrally.com/monographs/schisandra/

 

Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)

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