Herbs & Botanicals
What is saw schisandra? What is it used for?
Schisandra is a vine that grows in northeast China, Russia
and Korea. The vine contains tiny, red berries, which are
sun-dried and used medicinally. The berries' tastes range
from sweet and sour to salty and bitter, which help give the
vine its Chinese name (wu wei zi, meaning "five taste
The major active ingredients in schisandra are compounds
called lignans, which have been shown to protect the liver
and stimulate the immune system. Traditionally, schisandra
was used to combat coughs, night sweats, insomnia and physical
exhaustion. Controlled studies in China have found that schisandra
can help people with hepatitis; smaller studies suggest that
schisandra may improve physical performance, increase strength,
and reduce fatigue.
How much schisandra should I take?
Typical schisandra intake averages from 1.5 to 15 grams per
day. For schisandra tinctures, many practitioners recommend
2-4 millileters three times per day.
What forms of schisandra are available?
Many specialty markets sell dried schisandra berries. Schisandra
is also available in powder and tincture form.
What can happen if I take too much
schisandra? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
While side-effects with schisandra are rare, they may include
an upset stomach, decreased appetite, and skin rash. Schisandra
may also impact the efficacy of acetaminophen. As with any
other herbal product or supplement, make sure to consult with
a health care practitioner before taking schisandra supplements.
- Foster S, Yue CX. Herbal Emissaries:
Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. Rochester, VT: Healing
Arts Press, 1992, pp. 146-52.
- Hancke J, et al. Reduction of serum hepatic
transaminases and CPK in sport horses with poor performance
treated with a standardized schizandra chinensis
fruit extract. Phytomedicine 1996;3:237-40.
- Jung KY, Lee IS, Oh SR, et al. Lignans
with platelet activating factor antagonist activity from
schisandra chinensis baill. Phytomedicine 1997;4:229-31.
- Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of
Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics,
2nd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996,
- McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, et al. American
Herbal Product Association's Botanical Safety Handbook.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, p. 10