Schizandra is a deciduous woody vine native to forests of Northern China and Russia. Its berries are harvested and ground for medicinal use and is reported to benefit all body systems and organs. The use of schizandra dates back thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is only recently that North America has been introduced to this herb and its diverse healing properties. The berries have powerful health benefits and are held in the same esteemed regard as reishi, goji and ginseng.
It has been prescribed for thousands of years with proven safety - consumed as either as a single herb and/or as part of more complex herbal formulas for longevity, anti-aging; fatigue and nervous exhaustion, hepatitis and to improve memory. When it comes to beauty this versatile little berry has proven itself to have profound effect on the radiance and clarity of the skin, improving micro-circulation under the skin’s surface and increasing hydration retention. It is equally infamous for its effects on potency for men and women alike, rejuvenating the kidney energy and increasing circulation, lubrication, sensitivity and libido.
Schizandra is classified as an adaptogen - an herb that usually has a normalizing action irrespective of the direction of the pathological state - as defined in the 50’s by Russian doctors I.I. Brekhman and I.V. Dardymov. In general, adaptogens increase resistance to disease and stress, energy, physical performance and endurance. Schizandra has a balancing effect on the central nervous system. Quite contradictory in nature, this herb will quiet an overstimulated nervous system or encourage an underactive one without promoting an unwanted stimulatory effect. A morning coffee could be replaced with the berries boiled in water as a tea, and the same beverage could be consumed in the evening to relax from a stressful day or before going to sleep.
In human studies it has demonstrated its powerful effects on memory, concentration, fine coordination and alertness. With respect to eyesight, other human studies have reported increase and enlargement to the field of vision. The chemical compounds of the berries improve liver function by stimulating enzymes that speed up biochemical reactions and promoting cell growth. It is protective to the liver and strengthens both detoxification pathways, limiting the re-absorption of toxins during a cleanse and just might be the boost your body needs to fight off seasonal or environmental allergies. In fact a liver-protecting drug has been developed in China that is made from schisandrin, one of several active ingredients. Schizandra possesses all five of the classical tastes: sour, bitter, sweet, spicy and salty and therefore contains all five of the elemental energies: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
How to Make Schizandra Tea
The berries are a very potent, so a little goes a long way. In powdered form the typical recommended amount is 3 grams per day divided in two or more portions. This recipe makes enough tea for one day.
• 1 quart water
• 3 Tablespoons schizandra berries (soaked and drained)
Simmer the above ingredients in one quart of pure water for at least 30 minutes. Strain and drink with or without sweetener or cool and blend into a smoothie. Options – for a more potent rejuvenator and for the additional health benefits of Goji, add 1 tablespoon of Goji berries.
Herbs are powerful medicine so always check for any contraindications prior to use. As with any herb always consult your naturopathic and western doctor and with schizandra be sure to ask about its safety and use during pregnancy, or if there is a history of GERD or epilepsy.