Schisandra is a berry originating in Eastern Asia, which has long been used in Chinese Medicine. Schisandra has been shown to increase liver function by increasing enzymatic activity, which in turn increases glutathione production. Clinical trials in China by Liu KT in Studies on Fructus Schisandrae Chinensis have shown that Schisandra berries can help those with chronic viral hepatitis. One mechanism of hepatitis alleviation is lowering levels of serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (SGPT), a marker of hepatitis and many other liver disorders. It also may lower SGOT. Schisandra is thought to help regrow hepatic cells damaged by alcohol ingestion. The active parts of Schisandra currently identified as helping liver function are: schizandrin, deoxys chizandrin, gomisins, and pregomisin.
Animal studies have shown that Schisandra can increase physical stamina and energy levels. It can also quicken reflexes and increase focus; in addition to protecting against things such as heat shock, frostbite, heavy metal intoxication, radiation, high altitude problems and certain types of inflammation. Schisandra may also be a useful adjunct to chemotherapy due to both its liver protective properties (especially phase 1 detoxification) as well as its immune modulating properties. It can potentially help people handle the toxicity of certain pharmaceuticals they take. Heart contractility has also been shown to increase, without a change in blood pressure. In addition to increasing physical stamina, Schisandra is thought to increase mental stamina and focus as well as visual and hearing acuity. Schisandra is also known to have phytoadaptagenic properties (similar to ginseng) and to assist the endocrine, immune, and sympathetic nervous systems. It may help with cardiovascular and GI problems, increase bile secretion, and even help in the prevention of atherosclerosis. It is also reported that Schisandra has an aphrodisiac effect on both men and women (by increasing men’s staying power and stimulating sensitivity in the females’ genitals).
Schisandra is known to having some antimicrobial functions. It is thought to be especially effective against Bacillus dysenteriae, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris and HIV.
In clinical practice it appears to be a very effective antimicrobial against many types of organisms (fungal, bacterial, viral, etc.). It also has been very useful in patients who have suffered from liver stress or need to possibly excrete some stored xenobiotics, chemicals, metals, and mycotoxins. There are quite a few patients who need to be on it for 3-6 months and report many positive changes from taking it. We have seen it help chronic eczema as well.
Chinese medicine typically prescribes Schisandra to treat mental illnesses such as depression, and to help against insomnia.
Many studies have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory properties of Schisandra. Also taking Schisandra for 4-6 days decreased hepatic total cholesterol (TC) and triglyceride (TG) levels (by up to 50% and 52%, respectively) in hypercholesterolemic mice. It also causes relaxation of smooth muscle tissue and prostate tissues and could help with benign prostate hyperplasia.