This herb may be a hard to pronounce, but it is essential to have in your natural medicine arsenal.
Its scientific term, schisandra chinesis, and is also commonly called the fiver flavor berry or magnolia berry. It is called such as the berry inhibits all five basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, pungent (spicy), and bitter. It is native to northern China and eastern Russia, but can grow in the U.S. in zone 4. Schisandra grows on a long, woody vine, with oval pink leaves and bright, red berries; and prefers climates and soils similar to grapes.
This herb and its fruit were used in ancient Chinese medicine often, including as a tea, and by other ancient peoples to cure colds and seasickness. In fact, the Chinese will throw this berry in soups and other meals to increase its medicinal value. It is still harvested today in China for medicinal use, including to improve longevity, fatigue, sexual function, and to ward off the effects of aging. It is said in Chinese medicine that schisandra can “calm the heart and quiet the spirit.” The Russians would consume the berry on long hunting trips to keep up stamina and energy.
What are Schisandra’s benefits?
The main medicinal components of schisandra include: ѕсhіzаndrіn, dеоxуѕсhіzаndrіn, ѕсhіzаndrоl, ѕсhіѕаnhеnо, citral, stigmasterol, and ѕеѕquісаrеnе. It is considered an adaptogen, containing antioxidant and phytoadaptogen properties, and also contains vitamins C and E.
Schisandra is an adaptogen, and as such helps relieve mental and physical stress. It reduces the levels of stress hormones in the blood, such as cortisol.
Schisandra helps relieve immune overactivity in the body by controlling the release of leukocytes, and helping repair body tissue. This and its antioxidant properties are how it reduces inflammation in the body as a whole. For this reason, it’s been used in cancer treatments.
Much research has shown that schisandra benefits the liver’s ability to create detoxifying enzymes, helps help fatty liver disease, and can even help liver transplant recipients.
Its ability to improve circulation and improve blood vitality also lend to its common use for fertility – the reproductive organs need an ample blood supply to function properly. Studies show that when taking schisandra, men produce more sperm and women have improved ovarian function. Schisandra’s lignans act as phytoestrogens, ridding the body of excess estrogen. Because it helps balance sugar too, it has been used as a treatment for PCOS, and even endometriosis.
All in all, schisandra is a go-to for stress relief, mental function, and fertility. As it prepares the adrenals, liver, and sex organs for reproduction, it is a must for those planning or trying to conceive.
Here is a quick list of schisandra’s many benefits:
- Fertility promoter
- Stress reliever
- Promotes endurance and physical performance
- Limits fatigue
- Improves PCOS and endometriiosis
- Removes excess estrogen from the body
- Balances blood sugar
- Fights inflammation
- Improve metabolism, limiting weight gain
- Improves memory and concentration
- Stops insomnia
- Helps depression and anxiety
- Increases glutathione, a powerful detoxing antioxidant, in the body
- Liver tonic (hepatitis drugs were initially created from Schisandra)
- Bolsters sex organs
How to Use Schisandra
You will find whole dried and sometimes frozen berries, herbal liquid extracts, dried capsules, and tinctures. Tinctures normally contain the most concentrated form of the herb. For medicinal purposes, consider using a tincture to get the most benefit.
The berry can be used in a myriad of ways. You can add it to soups, stews, and smoothies for an added medicinal boost – and taste. It can also be used to make as an infused juice. Allow the berries to sit in a fruit juice or tea of your choice for 24 hours in the refrigerator, then strain (or don’t!) and enjoy. Soaking the berries in glycerin for one month will create a Shisandra syrup.
Schisandra: Your Fertility Must Have
This is an herb I would take daily if planning to get pregnant. It balances your blood sugar, detoxifies your liver, and promotes fertility, not to mention reduces stress. These are the major components of easy conception, especially low stress, and a healthy pregnancy.
Liver and blood sugar issues can trigger major issues during pregnancy, including morning sickness, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and preterm labor, so resolve these issues before getting pregnant. I would look it for it solo or in a fertility blend tincture. And, while trying to conceive, I would have my husband on a daily dose of the tincture, also.