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Schisandra, a berry known for its unique combination of five flavors, has been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Today, it piques the interest of the health-conscious for its array of possible benefits, ranging from liver support to mental clarity. In this article, we delve into the science and tradition behind Schisandra, examining how this ancient berry is finding its place in contemporary wellness practices. Join us as we uncover the multifaceted nature of Schisandra supplements and what current research suggests about their role in supporting overall health and wellbeing.

What Is Schisandra?

Schisandra, scientifically known as Schisandra chinensis, is a plant whose berries are celebrated in traditional medicine, particularly in China and Russia, for their diverse health-promoting properties. This vine, native to the forests of Northern China and parts of Russia, produces small, red berries that are not just nutritional but also a cornerstone of herbal medicine.

Schisandra berries are unique in that they possess all five basic flavors: sweet, salty, bitter, pungent, and sour. This distinctive characteristic is mirrored in their multifaceted health benefits. In traditional Chinese medicine, Schisandra is known as “wu wei zi,” which means “five-flavor fruit,” and it is used to promote balance and harmony within the body’s systems.

The medicinal use of Schisandra spans centuries, with its berries being consumed for their ability to enhance vitality and promote longevity. They are often dried and used in teas, tinctures, and extracts, making them a versatile ingredient in various health supplements.

Schisandra’s health benefits are attributed to its high concentration of lignans, which are phytochemicals that exhibit potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These lignans, along with other compounds found in the berries, contribute to the plant’s reputed benefits, which range from supporting liver health to improving mental and physical endurance.

In recent years, Schisandra has gained popularity in the Western world as a dietary supplement, with ongoing research exploring its potential in modern health and wellness applications. As we delve deeper into the benefits of Schisandra supplements, it’s clear that this ancient berry continues to be a valuable asset in the realm of natural health remedies, bridging the gap between traditional wisdom and contemporary science.

What Are the Benefits of Schisandra?

Known for its unique flavor profile and medicinal properties, Schisandra offers a variety of health benefits. Here’s a breakdown of its key advantages:

  • Stress Reduction and Mental Clarity: Schisandra is classified as an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body resist the effects of stress. It’s believed to enhance mental performance and concentration, especially during stressful situations.
    • Mental Health Benefits: It is also known for its potential effects on mood, potentially alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety.
    • Enhanced Mental Function: Beyond just reducing stress, Schisandra might improve cognitive functions like focus, memory, and alertness.
    • Alzheimer’s: Researchers found that it reduced memory impairment in mice caused by Amyloid beta. [PMC3399599] This effect seems to be related to the gut microbes producing additional short chain fatty acids, which act as neurotransmitters. [PMID: 36731694]
  • Liver Protection: One of the most notable benefits of Schisandra is its hepatoprotective effects. It aids in liver function and is used in treating liver diseases due to its antioxidant properties and ability to promote liver cell regeneration.
  • Immune System Boost: Schisandra contains compounds that help boost the immune system, enhancing the body’s resistance to diseases and infections.
  • Antioxidant Properties: Rich in antioxidants, Schisandra helps combat free radical damage, contributing to overall health and potentially slowing the aging process.
  • Improved Physical Performance: Some studies suggest that Schisandra can increase endurance and physical performance, making it popular among athletes.
  • Respiratory Health: Traditionally, Schisandra has been used to treat respiratory ailments, aiding in breathing and reducing coughs.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Schisandra may benefit heart health by regulating blood pressure and improving circulation.
    • Blood Sugar Regulation: Schisandra may have a role in stabilizing blood sugar levels, which could be beneficial for people with or at risk of diabetes.
    • Cholesterol Management: Early research indicates that Schisandra could help in managing cholesterol levels, thereby contributing to cardiovascular health.
  • Skin Health: Schisandra’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can contribute to skin health, potentially improving skin vitality and appearance.
  • Anti-Aging Properties: Schisandra is believed to have anti-aging properties, potentially due to its antioxidant content which combats cellular damage from free radicals.
  • Support for Menopausal Symptoms: Some preliminary studies suggest that Schisandra could help alleviate certain menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
  • Gastrointestinal Health: There’s some evidence to suggest that Schisandra might help protect the gastrointestinal tract and alleviate symptoms of certain digestive disorders.

Is Schisandra Safe?

Schisandra is generally considered safe for most people when used appropriately. This herb has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine for its various health-promoting properties. Studies have shown that Schisandra is well-tolerated when consumed in moderate amounts. It’s important to note that while adverse effects are rare, they can occur, particularly if taken in high doses or in combination with certain medications.

Medication Interactions with Schisandra

  • Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates: Schisandra can affect the enzyme CYP2C9 in the liver. Medications metabolized by this enzyme may have altered effects or increased side effects.
  • Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates: Similar to CYP2C9 substrates, Schisandra can affect CYP1A2 enzyme activity. This can change how drugs like clozapine, cyclobenzaprine, and fluvoxamine are metabolized.
  • Warfarin (a blood thinner): There is potential for Schisandra to increase the risk of bleeding when taken with warfarin, as it might affect how the body processes the drug.
  • Immunosuppressants: Schisandra might stimulate the immune system and might reduce the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system’s activity.
  • Antidiabetic drugs: Schisandra may alter blood sugar levels, which could interfere with the effectiveness of antidiabetic drugs.
  • Barbiturates: Schisandra might increase the breakdown and decrease the effectiveness of barbiturates.

Supplement Interactions with Schisandra

  • St. John’s Wort: This supplement can induce liver enzymes and may affect the metabolism of Schisandra, potentially reducing its effectiveness.
  • Ginkgo Biloba: When taken with Schisandra, there may be an increased risk of bleeding, as both supplements can have blood-thinning effects.
  • Kava: Both Kava and Schisandra can affect the liver. Taking them together might increase the risk of liver damage.
  • Sedative Herbs (such as Valerian, Chamomile, and Hops): Schisandra may enhance the sedative effects of these herbs, potentially leading to excessive drowsiness.
  • Bitter Orange: When combined with Schisandra, there might be an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart rate, as both can stimulate the body.
  • Caffeine and other Stimulants: Schisandra can increase the stimulant effects of caffeine and similar substances, potentially leading to jitteriness, insomnia, or an increased heart rate.
  • Immune-Boosting Supplements (such as Echinacea): Since Schisandra can stimulate the immune system, combining it with other immune-boosting supplements might amplify immune responses.
  • Blood Sugar Modulating Supplements: Schisandra might affect blood sugar levels, so taking it with other supplements that also affect blood sugar could enhance this effect.

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Schisandra Extract by Vital Nutrients

 Supports liver function*
• Promotes energy and endurance*
• Provides support during times of stress and fatigue*
• Premium Vegan Formulation

Schisandra has been used for over 2,000 years in Chinese and Japanese practices. It supports liver protective functions due to its lignan content, helps to support liver function, and supports the immune and nervous systems.* Schisandra is considered adaptogenic and provides support during times of stress and fatigue, helping energy, endurance, and stress response.* It may also promote concentration and cognitive performance in times of stress.*  Suggested Use:  Take 2 vegan capsules daily, or as directed by your healthcare professional.

Amount Per 2 veg capsules Serving
Schisandra Extract … 1000mg
(Schisandra chinensis, berry, standardized to 2% total schizandrins)

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

Schisandra supplements offer a range of health benefits, making them a notable addition to many wellness routines. Known for their adaptogenic properties, these supplements can help in managing stress and enhancing mental clarity. Schisandra also supports liver function and may improve skin health, thanks to its antioxidant properties. While traditionally used in Chinese medicine, modern research continues to explore and validate these benefits.

This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.

About the Author

Stephanie Figon, MS, RDN, LD

Creator of Supplement Sciences and NutriScape.NET. As a dietitian since 1992, Steph has had experiences in consulting, 15 years in clinical, and has operated a private practice nutrition counseling office for since 2011. Log in to comment and save this article on your board or send your comments to

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