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Schisandra Introduction

Schisandra is also known as Magnolia Vine and Wu Wei Zi, or Five flavor fruit. It is a creeping vine that is often found in ornamental gardens all over the world. The vine produces multiple clusters of small, bright red berries. The schisandra plant is native to parts of China, Russia and Korea.

Schisandra has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a kidney tonic and lung astringent. Its main use was for colds, cough, insomnia, night sweats, thirst, and physical exhaustion. It was called the ‘Wu Wei Zi’ fruit because it has a sweet, sour, salty, hot, and bitter flavors, all in one.

Today, Schisandra is used for chemotherapy support, colds and sore throats, fatigue, liver support, hepatitis, and stress. It is seen as an adaptogen herb, similar to Ginseng. It is also a potent antioxidant. Very recent research suggests that it may also contain phytoestrogen activity. [1]

The main compounds in Schisandra are lignans. These are responsible for much of the medicinal action ascribed to Schisandra.

Schisandra Uses

Parts Used

The berries are the key medicinal components of Schisandra. They can be used either fresh or dried.

Schisandra Uses

Schisandra is a well-known liver support herb. The lignans in Schisandra are believed to regenerate liver tissue as well as increase the production of antioxidants (e.g. glutathione) in the liver. Increased production of antioxidants protects the liver cells from damage from viruses, toxins, and alcohol.

  • Schisandra also supports the detoxification pathways of the liver, especially Phase I. This is helpful for the whole body, because toxic substances can be cleared more efficiently; however, this may also cause the increased clearance of some needed medications.
  • Schisandra can be used for Hepatitis C. It has been proven to treat chronic Hepatitis C, reduce the risk of developing cirrhosis from the hepatitis, and may also work to combat the development of deadly Hepatocellular carcinoma. [2]
  • Schisandra may be helpful as a cancer preventative agent. One substance known to protect against cancer, geranylgeranoic acid, has been found in high levels in Schisandra. [3] Further studies are needed.
  • Schisandra is an adaptogen herb. It is helpful for stress and fatigue-related conditions caused by adrenal exhaustion. It works similar to Ginseng, in helping to increase stamina and energy. It may also be helpful for improving performance in sports and tests, as well as to promote muscle strength.
  • Schisandra may be cardioprotective. The constituents of the plant may have the ability to protect against heart attack and damage from loss of blood flow to the heart. [4] It has also been shown to be helpful for women who are in menopause to protect against heart disease. [5]

Schisandra Dosages

Typical doses are 1-6 grams of fruit per day, 2-4 milliliters of tincture three times a day, and 100 - 200 milligrams standardized extract one to two times a day.

Schisandra Toxicities and Deficiencies

The most common side effects include stomach and intestinal upset, loss of appetite, and skin rash. [6] There is no toxicity or overdose information available.

Schisandra is considered safe in all populations, including women who are pregnant or nursing.

Schisandra may oppose platelet-activating factor, and therefore may cause thinning of the blood. Individuals who have blood disorders or are on blood thinning medications should consult their physician prior to administering products containing Schisandra. [7]


1. Lee YS et al. Extracts from Schisandra chinensis fruit activate estrogen receptors, a possible clue to its effect on nitric oxide mediated vasorelaxation. Biol Pharm Bull. 2004 Jul; 27(7): 1066-1069.

2. Cyong JC et al. Clinical and pharmacological studies on liver disease treated with Kampo herbal medicine. Am J Chin Med. 2000; 28(3-4): 351-360.

3. Shidoji Y, Ogawa H. Natural occurrence of cancer preventative geranylgeranoic acid in medicinal herbs. J Lipid Res. 2004 Jun; 45(6): 1092-1103.

4. Li PC, Poon KT, Ko KM. Schisandra chinensis dependent myocardial protective action of sheng-mai-san in rats. Am J Chin Med. 1996; 24 (3-4): 255-262.

5. Lee YS et al. Extracts from Schisandra chinensis fruit activate estrogen receptors, a possible clue to its effect on nitric oxide mediated vasorelaxation. Biol Pharm Bull. 2004 Jul; 27(7): 1066-1069.

6. Schisandra. March 2005.

7. Lee IS et al. Structure activity relationships of lignans for Schisandra chinensis as platelet activating factor antagonist. Biol Pharm Bull. 1999 Mar; 22(3): 265-267