By Sarena-Rae Santos, Natural Health Blogger
What is Schisandra
Schisandra is also known as magnolia-vine, Chinese magnolia-vine, Schisandra, or its scientific name Schisandra Chinensis (1). Schisandra plants are vigorously climbing perennials that can reach 30 feet with odoriferous pink or white flowers with clusters of bright red fruit that droop from the vine (2).
Health Benefits of Schisandra
Many of Schisandra’s health benefits stem from their wide variety of compounds with biological activities such as:
- Lignans (deoxyschizandrin, gomisins, pregomisin, schizandrin, and others)
- Phytosterols (beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol)
- Vitamins C and E
- Volatile oils (3)
Some of the excellent medicinal benefits these compounds are responsible for include:
May Reduce Stress
Schisandra is an adaptogenic herb (4), meaning they help your body respond to stress, anxiety, fatigue, and overall wellbeing (5). In one study, researchers determined that rats who were given frequent adaptogenic herbs over seven days experienced near-steady levels of nitric oxide and cortisol despite increased amounts of stress (6). In another study, they found Schizandra increased physical working capacity and created a stress-protective effect against a broad spectrum of harmful factors (7).
May Improve Symptoms of Depression
Approximately 280 million people worldwide have depression (8), but thankfully Schisandra may help improve symptoms of depression (9). Animal studies have found that Schisandra extract had an antidepressant effect on mice (10,11). Although there have been successful outcomes in animal studies, Schisandra’s anti-depressant effects haven’t been studied much in humans.
May Help with Healthy Sexual Function
Schisandra positively impacts hormone production, including estrogen (12). Research indicates that Schisandra is beneficial for fertility and hormonal health, helping promote a strong libido, preventing sexual dysfunctions, and positively influencing reproductive organs like the uterus (13).
May Provide Menopause Symptom Relief
Menopause transpires when estrogen decreases and is characterized by a point in time 12 months after a woman’s last menstrual cycle. In the years leading to menopause, women may have changes in their monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other uncomfortable symptoms (14). Thanks to Schisandra’s positive impacts on hormone production, this herb can help provide relief. One study analyzed the effects of Schisandra extract on women with menopausal symptoms and determined that Schisandra is effective at alleviating some menopausal symptoms (15).
May Improve Brain Function
Schisandra has benefited brain function, especially in older adults. One study found that Schisandra had a positive effect on Alzheimer’s disease thanks to its ability to block the formation of excess amyloid beta peptides in the brain (16). Another study indicates that Schisandra may be effective against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease due to its anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective effect on microglial cells in the brain (17).
May Promote Liver Health
The liver is the largest internal organ, responsible for more than 500 vital functions like bile production, detoxification, production and regulation of vital bodily processes, and more (18). When the liver becomes overburdened, it may become congested or result in liver disease. An animal study found that pollen extracted from the Schisandra plant had a strong antioxidant effect against toxic damage induced in mice’s livers (19). A human study found Schisandra effective in reducing liver impairment in acute and chronic liver diseases in Indonesian patients with no observed side effects (20).
The mainstream warns that Schisandra is possibly unsafe when taken by mouth during pregnancy. It might cause the uterus to contract, which might lead to miscarriage. Do not use Schisandra during pregnancy. They also claim there isn’t enough reliable information to know if Schisandra is safe when breastfeeding, cautioning to stay on the safe side and avoid its use (21).
On page 133 of the Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, the only cautions they mention are that large doses can cause heartburn, interact with some medicines, and take only with professional advice if taking prescription medication.
I think it’s important to note that a couple of sources mentioned that it could potentially cause contractions, but I haven’t seen evidence it can hurt the baby. I recommend starting slow and paying attention to your body and if you feel unusual cramping, stop taking it.
How to Use Schisandra
You can find Schisandra in dried bulk, capsules, powders, extracts, oils, or tinctures. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. Teas and soups are also options, especially when following ayurvedic medicine recipes.
Follow the recommendations of any supplement; some of my recommendations include:
- Earthley’s Berry Balancing Tea has bitter and sweet notes from balancing herbs and real fruit. Great hot or iced. Enjoy the taste of berries and the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of Berry Balancing Tea. Raspberries, blueberries, and Schisandra berries combine with alfalfa and raspberry leaf to bring you a refreshing tea blend with numerous health benefits.
- Earthley’s Fertili-Boost helps prepare your body for pregnancy! Conceiving a child is a journey for which women want to be in their best shape. This can help by promoting healthy energy levels, deeply nourishing the body, supporting the adrenals, and bringing hormones into balance. It’s just what women need for successful conception. Simply take it for three to six months before conceiving to promote the healthiest version of yourself!
- Earthley’s Lunamore “moon love” is for metabolic support and a woman’s moon cycle. This tincture provides herbal support for hormone balance, helps to reduce cramps and cysts, and supports healthy blood sugar levels.
- Earthley’s Master Tonic is perfect for total body support when life gets too busy. If you’re feeling run down and in need of support, Master Tonic is here for you! This herbal remedy has nutrients to support all your major organs that need help when you’re overworked—made with all-natural ingredients without any OTC medication drugs with those nasty side effects.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.