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Schisandra chinensis

Schisandra chinensis is a unique plant growing in the north-eastern China and parts of Russia. Its berries are thought to exert a large variety of healthy effects. The berry of Schisandra owes its name Wu Wei Zi (five flavored berry) because it is sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent.

Schisandra chinensis is being used for millennia to prolong life retarding the aging process and increasing energy. It is one of the primary medicinal agents in Chinese herbal medicine since antiquity. The first recorded use of schisandra is found in China's earliest text of herbal medicine, the Divine Husbandman's Classic of the Materia Medica, which is believed to have originated in the first century B.C. Schisandra is said to "prolong the years of life without aging," and it is also said to increase energy (called "qi," pronounced "chee") and activity, suppress cough, treat fatigue, and act as a sexual tonic in men.

Schisandra also possesses significant protective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Thus it helps to maintain healthy cells throughout the body. It is considered as one of the most highly protective of all medicinal herbs, and this berry is included in many traditional herbal formulas for the energy enhance and mental health.

Schisandra chinensis berries contain active lignans named schisandrins providing their unique biological activity. Despite the well-known opinion about health effects of schisandra berries, schisandrines are primarily contained by the seeds, which are inside the berries. And if to be more correct, in the thin covering layer of a seed.

Schisandrine structureTypical schisandrine struture

Today, we understand the mechanisms responsible for biological activity of Schisandra chinensis. Schisandrins act as follows:

-           Exert antioxidant activity and strengthen cell walls;

-           Improve blood circulation via inducted relaxation of the vessel muscles;

-           Reduce stress-induced mediators and mitigate neuroinflammation in brain;

-           Activate basic metabolic processes.

All these mechanisms are boosted by schisandrins and provide health improving effects such as:

-           Activation of the brain mental activity;

-           Improvement of the sleep patterns allowing to treat insomnia and anxiety;

-           Heart protection from myocardial infarction;

-           Stimulation of physical and psychotic activity, slight increase of blood pressure;

-           Enhanced tolerance to the harmful and extreme ambient conditions;

-           Reduction of the blood glucose level and activation of energy metabolism.

Now, we can see that Schisandra chinensis acts as an adaptogen with marked tonic effect strengthening the body and helping it to resist harmful ambient factors.

 

References:

Panossian A., Wikman G. Pharmacology of Schisandra chinensis Bail.: An overview of Russian research and uses in medicine. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2008. Vol. 118(2), p. 183-212.

Yim T.K., Ko K.M. Schisandrin B protects against myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury by enhancing myocardial glutathione antioxidant status. Mol. Cell Biochem. 1999 Vol. 196(1-2), p. 151-156.

Tsi D., Tan A. Evaluation on the combined effect of Sesamin and Schizandra extract on blood fluidity. Bioinformation. 2007. 2(6). P. 2492-52.

Park J.Y., Shin H.K., Lee Y.J., et al. The mechanism of vasorelaxation induced by Schisandra chinensis extract in rat thoracic aorta. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2009. Vol. 121(1), P. 69-73.

Chen W.W., He R.R., Li Y.F., et al. Pharmacological studies on the anxiolytic effect of standardized Schisandra lignans extract on restraint-stressed mice. Phytomedicine. 2011. Vol. 18(13), p. 1144-1147.

Chan S.W. Panax ginseng, Rhodiola rosea and Schisandra chinensis. Int. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 2012 Vol. 63, Suppl 1, P. 75-81