Common Name: Schisandra Berries
Botanical Name: Schisandra chinensis
Part Used: Fruit, Seed
Properties: Wu wei zi literally translates to "five flavored seeds", or "five tastes" referring to the fact that schisandra is sweet, salty, pungent, sour, pungent and bitter. The main qualities are sour and warm.
Key Constituents: Lignans (schizandrin, deoxschizandrin, gomisin), phytosterols, essential or volatile oils, vitamins E and C, chromium, magnesium, phosphorus, fruit acids (malic, citric, tartaric), fumaric acid
Channels Entered: Kidney, Heart, Lungs
Growing & Harvesting
A cold-hardy shrub that grows in to a woody vine reaching lengths of 20 feet or more with red berries in the fall. Grows in most any soil type. The fruit is harvested in the fall when ripe.
Western View: astringent, demulcent, antitussive, adaptogenic
A tea can be made by decocting, or gently simmering, 1/2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon (1.5-9 grams) of dried berries in 1-2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Berries would be strained before drinking the tea.
Medicinal Benefits and Uses
Wu Wei Zi is a treasured tonic herb used in longevity herb formulas in Chinese medicine; Schisandra is well known for "generating fluids", and anyone who is aging can tell you how important it is to stay moist and juicy! Schisandra's reputation as an aid in healthy aging is strengthened by the fact that it has been used for generations to improve the memory, resist infections, improve vision, and adapt to stress. Schisandra's regenerative properties extend to the skin, and the renowned herb has been used by royalty for thousands of years to preserve beauty. While it can be used as a single remedy, it is more commonly combined with other herbs depending on the desired affects of the herb.
Schisandra - Lungs
Schisandra is an excellent herb to strengthen the Lungs in general, but specifically reinforces Lung Qi and Lung Yin. Because schisandra benefits both the Kidney and Lung energetic organ systems, it is especially beneficial in cases of asthma and COPD where there is difficulty in inhaling, or catching your breathe. Much like mullein herb, schisandra is both astringent and demulcent; whether you have dryness or phlegm affecting the Lung health, schisandra is appropriate.
Schisandra - Liver
Schisandra is one of the most useful herbs available for protecting the Liver and repairing the Liver function in cases of damaged due to chemical exposure, toxins, drugs, or disease. The ability of schisandra to protect and heal the liver appears to be herbs ability to activate the enzymes that produce glutathione peroxide which deactivate free radicals which damage the outer membranes of liver cells.
Schisandra - Kidneys
Schisandra re-enforces the Essence and Yin, which are both directly related to the Kidney energy. The Kidney and Bladder are paired in Chinese medicine, and schisandra is often employed to resolve frequent urination. Also, sexual energy is associated with Essence and the Kidney energetic organ system which explains schisandra's role as a valued substance used with impotence and nocturnal emisions of sperm. The Kidney system is responsible for "grasping the Lung Qi" upon inhalation and works closely with the Lung energetic organ system in TCM, thus accounting for schisandras unquestionable value as a central respiratory herb.
Schisandra - Heart
Schisandra generally strengthens the Heart function by regulating and strengthening both circulation and heart rhythm, thus reducing palpitations. In Chinese medicine, the "Heart Houses the Mind"; this helps to explain the calming effect of shisandra on the mind, the stress reducing qualities, and the ability to address insomnia.
Conditions and benefits of schisandra:
- Cold sweats from stress
- Contact dermatitis
- Coughs due to Lung and Kidney Deficient patterns
- Dehydration due to diabetes
- Diarrhea that occurs first thing in the morning and is related to Spleen and Kidney Deficiency patterns, or nocturnal emissions
- Digestion-increases absorption
- Frequent urination
- Infections-schisandra strongly inhibits many types of bacteria
- Insomnia due to dreams disrupting sleep or Yin Deficiency
- Labor-increases rhythmic uterine contractions by stimulating the smooth muscle of the uterus
- Night sweats
- Poor memory due to Heart Deficiency, memory loss, amnesia
- Blood sugar imbalances including diabetes and hypoglycemia
- Shortness of breath
- Spermatorrhea, especially night time seminal emissions
- Stress headaches
- Sweating without exertion
- Thirst related to pre-diabetic conditions or menopause, especially night time thirst and dry mouth or throat
- Vaginal discharges
- Vertigo-when the head feels like there is a strap around the head causing a constricted feeling
- Vision-increases visual acuity
- Wheezing due to Lung and Kidney Deficient patterns
Contraindications and Cautions: Should not be used when Exterior Pathogens are evident, during the early stages of coughs or rashes due to Exterior Pathogenic factors. Should not be used in excess of 9 grams (dried berry) daily; overdosing is not going to give better or faster results. A true overdose could cause restlessness and insomnia, but it should be noted that overdosing with schisandra through a tea is unlikely and would require upward of a pound of berries taken in a 24 hour period. Avoid during pregnancy as it stimulates the uterus. Schisandra increases bile flow, therefore should be avoided in cases of blocked gallbladder ducts and gallstones.