Schisandra (Wu Wei Zi)
Botanical Name: Schisandra chinensis, S. sphenanthera
Schisandra is considered one of the great longevity tonic herbs. It is famous as an adaptogen and anti-aging herb, with stamina-building properties. It is also known to impart beauty and sexual endurance to those who use it regularly.
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Below is an overview of Schisandra, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Schisandra.
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Western Name: Schisandra
Also Known As: Magnolia Vine
Organs/Systems: Immune, Nervous, Endocrine
Key Actions: Antistress, Overall Tonic, Adaptogen, Astringent, Antidiarrhoeic, Antitussive, Demulcent, Anti-inflammatory, Expectorant, Neuroprotective, Antimicrobial, Mild Sedative
Medicinal Uses: Improves night vision, reduces appetite, protects against inflammation, and radiation exposure, cleanses heavy metal toxicity, treats chronic hepatitis C. Supports the endocrine, central nervous system, respiratory and immune systems. Chronic coughs, asthma, thirst, anxiety, insomnia.
Pin Yin: Wu Wei Zi
Also Known As: Five Flavor Berry
Meridians: Heart, Kidney, Lung
Key Actions: Stabilizes and Binds, Contains Leakage of Lung Qi, Stops Cough, Tonifies the Kidneys, Binds up Essence, Stops Diarrhea, Inhibits Sweating, Generates Fluids, Calms Shen
Medicinal Uses: Patterns of Lung and Kidney Deficiency, adrenal fatigue, chronic hepatitis C, chronic coughs, nocturnal emissions, spermatorrhea, vaginal discharge, frequent urination, prevents premature aging, excessive sweating with thirst or dry throat, and night sweats. Treats irritability, palpitations, PMS, chronic diarrhea, fatty liver, erectile dysfunction, exhaustion, memory loss, high cholesterol, pneumonia, dysentery, chemo-protective, boosts immunity, calms dream-disturbed sleep or insomnia due to injury to Heart and Kidney Yin. Aids uterine contractions. Increases usage of liver glycogen stores and serum glucose, allergic skin disorders, frostbite, heavy metal toxicity, heat stroke, radiation exposure, the bends (from deep sea diving).
Basic Habitat / Botany:
Schisandra is a deciduous woody vine in the Magnoliaceae family. There are 19 species, 12 of which are endemic to China. It is dioecious, thus flowers on a female plant will only produce fruit when fertilized with pollen from a male plant. There is a hybrid called “Eastern Prince” which is self-fertilizing. Similar to grapes, it likes some shade, as well as moist, well-drained soil.
Native to Northern China and Eastern Russia. It is now grown in many places in the world including Japan, Korea, and North America.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Berry and Seed, Leaf
Flavors/Temps: Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Salty, Pungent, Acrid, Warm
Caution: Considered very safe.
Key Constituents: Sesquicarene, Phytoestrogens, Deoxyschizandrin, Schizandrol, Stigmasterol. Two major lignans – Schisandrin and Gomisin A. Vitamins C and E. Tannins.
History/Folklore: Schisandra’s Chinese name, “Five Flavors,” derives from it being one of the few herbs to include the properties of all five Flavors (Sweet, Bitter, Salty, Sour, and Pungent). Its main taste is sour and salty. Because it has five tastes it is considered to benefit all five yin organs; Liver, Lung, Heart, Kidneys, and Spleen. Another way of considering Schisandra’s Five Flavors is to note that its shells are sweet, its meat sour, the seeds bitter and tart, and its extract salty.
Schisandra is considered one of the 50 Fundamental herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is celebrated as a key tonic herb. It is even considered a substitute for ginseng. Schisandra is considered a sex tonic for both male and female organs.
Low doses of schisandra are said to stimulate the central nervous system, while higher doses are used to depress, or calm, the nervous system.
In the Far East regions of Russia the berries have been used by the native Nanai hunters to improve night vision and as a tonic to reduce hunger, thirst, and exhaustion.
Schisandra has been used to help respiratory depression caused by morphine use.
Schisandra increases the liver’s ability to make the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. This compound deactivates several types of free radicals that attack the outer membrane of liver cells. It helps to counter the damage done to the liver by chronic viral hepatitis and HIV. Schisandra contains lignans that are known to have a strong protective action on the liver. Schisandra also increases the flow of bile.
A study of 47 premenopausal and 49 postmenopausal women not using hormonal contraceptives and a second group using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), found a significant potential for a decrease in estrogen in either group that could lead to breast cancer. Schisandra contains a phytoestrogen compound that can help balance estrogen levels while simultaneously lowering the risk of breast cancer.
It has been favored by the wealthy and especially the emperors and court ladies due to its reputation as a youth preserver, beautifier, and powerful sexual tonic. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is considered both a Yin and a Yang tonic. It is famous for increasing the sexual power in men.
As the plant is not native to the west, it has little European historical usage, but with current growing scientific studies being made it is now being used more and more outside of China. Research done in Russia, led to the herb being one of the first to be identified as an “adaptogenic” herb. In fact, this term was created to describe the herb’s ability to systemically promote health by countering the symptoms of stress, boosting immunity, supporting organ and system functions, as well as building stamina and strength. Research has continued to confirm the herb’s potent protective and rebalancing effects on the central nervous system, endocrine, immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems.
The young spring leaves can be boiled and enjoyed as a vegetable side dish.
Protects the Skin
Widely used to beautify the skin and protect it from sun and wind damage.
As the plant contains tannins it is best soaked in pure water for at least several hours before using, otherwise it can upset a person’s stomach or digestion.
Build Sexual Energy
Drink a cup of Schisandra tea daily for 100 days to cleanse the blood, beautify the skin, and build sexual energy.
Take FULL advantage of Schisandra (Wu Wei Zi)!
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