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Schisandra

Schisandra

Uses

Common names:
Wu-Wei-Zi
Botanical names:
Schisandra chinensis

Parts Used & Where Grown

Schisandra is a woody vine with numerous clusters of tiny, bright red berries. It is distributed throughout northern and northeast China and the adjacent regions of Russia and Korea.1 The fully ripe, sun-dried fruit is used medicinally. It is purported to have sour, sweet, salty, hot, and bitter tastes. This unusual combination of flavors is reflected in schisandra’s Chinese name wu-wei-zi, meaning “five taste fruit.”

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
1 Star
Common Cold and Sore Throat
Refer to label instructions
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Herbal supplements can help strengthen the immune system and fight infections. Adaptogens, which include eleuthero, Asian ginseng , astragalus , and schisandra , are thought to help keep various body systems—including the immune system—functioning optimally. They have not been systematically evaluated as cold remedies. However, one double-blind trial found that people who were given 100 mg of Asian ginseng extract in combination with a flu vaccine experienced a lower frequency of colds and flu compared with people who received only the flu vaccine.3

1 Star
Hay Fever (Asiasarum Root, Cassia Bark, Ginger, Licorice, Ma Huang, Peony, Pinellia)
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The Japanese herbal formula known as sho-seiryu-to has been shown to reduce symptom, such as sneezing, for people with hay fever.4 Sho-seiryu-to contains licorice , cassia bark, schisandra , ma huang, ginger , peony root , pinellia, and asiasarum root.

1 Star
Hepatitis
420 mg of silymarin per day
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Modern Chinese research suggests that compounds called lignans in schisandra promote regeneration of liver tissue that has been damaged by harmful influences, such as hepatitis viruses or alcohol. In a controlled trial, Chinese patients with chronic viral hepatitis were given 500 mg schisandra extract three times daily or liver extract and B vitamins.5 Among those given schisandra, serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (SGPT) levels declined to normal levels in 68% compared to 44% of the control group. Lower SGPT levels suggest less liver inflammation. There was also a reduction in symptoms such as insomnia , fatigue, loose stools , and abdominal tension in the schisandra group. A preliminary trial in 5,000 people with various types of hepatitis found normalizations in SGPT or related liver enzymes in 75% of cases using an unspecified amount of schisandra.6

1 Star
Infection
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Herbs that support a person’s immune system in the fight against microbes include the following: American ginseng , andrographis , Asian ginseng , astragalus , coriolus, eleuthero , ligustrum , maitake , picrorhiza , reishi , schisandra , and shiitake .

1 Star
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Bupleurum, Dan Shen, Ginger, Wormwood)
Take a Chinese herbal formula containing wormwood under the guidance of a qualified practitioner
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Whole peppermint leaf is often used either alone or in combination with other herbs to treat abdominal discomfort and mild cramping that accompany IBS. The combination of peppermint, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, and wormwood was reported to be an effective treatment for upper abdominal complaints in a double-blind trial.7

1 Star
Liver Support
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The major constituents in schisandra are lignans (schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, gomisins, and pregomisin) found in the seeds of the fruit. Modern Chinese research suggests these lignans have a protective effect on the liver and an immunomodulating effect. Two human trials completed in China (one double-blind and the other preliminary) have shown that schisandra may help people with chronic viral hepatitis.8 9 Schisandra lignans appear to protect the liver by activating the enzymes in liver cells that produce glutathione, an important antioxidant substance.10

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

A classical treatise on Chinese herbal medicine, Shen Nung Pen Tsao Ching, describes schisandra as a high-grade herbal drug useful for a wide variety of medical conditions—especially as a kidney tonic and lung astringent. In addition, other textbooks on Traditional Chinese Medicine note that schisandra is useful for coughs , night sweats, insomnia , thirst, and physical exhaustion.2 Adaptogenic herbs, like schisandra, have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve the ability of the body to respond to stress.

How It Works

Common names:
Wu-Wei-Zi
Botanical names:
Schisandra chinensis

How It Works

The major constituents in schisandra are lignans (schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, gomisins, and pregomisin) found in the seeds of the fruit. Modern Chinese research suggests these lignans have a protective effect on the liver and an immunomodulating effect. Two human trials completed in China (one double-blind and the other preliminary) have shown that schisandra may help people with chronic viral hepatitis .11 , 12 Schisandra lignans appear to protect the liver by activating the enzymes in liver cells that produce glutathione , an important antioxidant substance.13

Schisandra fruit may also have an adaptogenic action, much like the herb Asian ginseng , but with weaker effects. Laboratory work suggests that schisandra may improve work performance, build strength, and help to reduce fatigue.14

How to Use It

Use of schisandra fruit ranges from 1.5–15 grams per day.15 The tincture, 2–4 ml three times per day, can also be used.

Interactions

Common names:
Wu-Wei-Zi
Botanical names:
Schisandra chinensis

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • none

Reduce Side Effects

  • none

Support Medicine

  • none

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • none

Explanation Required

  • Acetaminophen

    Gomisin A is a constituent found in the Chinese herb schisandra (Schisandra chinensis). In a study of rats given liver-damaging amounts of acetaminophen, gomisin A appeared to protect against some liver damage but did not prevent glutathione depletion16 (unlike milk thistle, as reported above). Studies have not yet confirmed this action in humans.

  • Acetaminophen with Codeine

    Gomisin A is a constituent found in the Chinese herb schisandra(Schisandra chinensis). In a study of rats given liver-damaging amounts of acetaminophen , gomisin A appeared to protect against some liver damage but did not prevent glutathione depletion17 (unlike milk thistle, as reported above). Studies have not yet confirmed this action in humans.

  • Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen

    Gomisin A is a constituent found in the Chinese herb schisandra(Schisandra chinensis). In a study of rats given liver-damaging amounts of acetaminophen , gomisin A appeared to protect against some liver damage but did not prevent glutathione depletion18 (unlike milk thistle, as reported above). Studies have not yet confirmed this action in humans.

The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Common names:
Wu-Wei-Zi
Botanical names:
Schisandra chinensis

Side Effects

Side effects involving schisandra are uncommon but may include abdominal upset, decreased appetite, and skin rash.19

References

1. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 469–72.

2. Shu HY. Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide. Palos Verdes, CA: Oriental Healing Arts Press, 1986, 624–5.

3. Scaglione F, Cattaneo G, Alessandria M, Cogo R. Efficacy and safety of the standardized ginseng extract G 115 for potentiating vaccination against common cold and/or influenza syndrome. Drugs Exptl Clin Res 1996;22:65–72.

4. Baba S, Takasaka T. Double-blind clinical trial of sho-seiryu-to (TJ-19) for perennial nasal allergy. Clin Otolaryngol 1995;88:389–405.

5. Liu KT. Studies on fructus Schisandrae chinensis. Annex 12: Studies on fructus Schisandrae chinensis. Plenary lecture, World Health Organization Seminar on the Use of Medicinal Plants in Health Care, Sept 1977, Tokyo, Japan. In: WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific Final Report, Manila, 1977, 101–12.

6. Chang HM, But P (eds). Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Materia Medica vol 1. Singapore: World Scientific, 1986.

7. Westphal J, Hörning M, Leonhardt K. Phytotherapy in functional abdominal complaints: Results of a clinical study with a preparation of several plants. Phytomedicine 1996;2:285–91.

8. Liu KT. Studies on fructus Schizandrae chinensis. Annex 12: Studies on fructus Schizandrae chinensis. Plenary lecture, World Health Organization (WHO) Seminar on the Use of Medicinal Plants in Health Care, Sept 1977, Tokyo, Japan. In: WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, Final Report, November 1977, Manila, 101–12.

9. Chang HM, But P (eds). Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Materia Medica Singapore: World Scientific, 1986.

10. Ip SP, Poon MKT, Wu SS, et al. Effect of schisandrin B on hepatic glutathione antioxidant system in mice: Protection against carbon tetrachloride toxicity. Planta Med 1995;61:398–401.

11. Liu KT. Studies on fructus Schizandrae chinensis. Annex 12: Studies on fructus Schizandrae chinensis. Plenary lecture, World Health Organization (WHO) Seminar on the Use of Medicinal Plants in Health Care, Sept 1977, Tokyo, Japan. In: WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, Final Report, November 1977, Manila, 101–12.

12. Chang HM, But P (eds). Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Materia Medica 1. Singapore: World Scientific, 1986.

13. Ip SP, Poon MKT, Wu SS, et al. Effect of schisandrin B on hepatic glutathione antioxidant system in mice: Protection against carbon tetrachloride toxicity. Planta Med 1995;61:398–401.

14. Foster S, Yue CX. Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1992, 146–52.

15. Foster S, Yue CX. Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1992, 146–52.

16. Yamada S, Murawaki Y, Kawasaki H. Preventive effect of gomisin A, a lignan component of schizandra fruits, on acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Biochem Pharmacol 1993;46:1081–5.

17. Yamada S, Murawaki Y, Kawasaki H. Preventive effect of gomisin A, a lignan component of schizandra fruits, on acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Biochem Pharmacol 1993;46:1081–5.

18. Yamada S, Murawaki Y, Kawasaki H. Preventive effect of gomisin A, a lignan component of schizandra fruits, on acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Biochem Pharmacol 1993;46:1081–5.

19. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, et al. American Herbal Product Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 104.

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