Schisandra: Uses, Benefits, and Precautions

Schisandra is said to be a natural adaptogen that helps balance body functions. Is there evidence? In this space we detail it.

Last update: September 18, 2021

The schisandra, of scientific name Schisandra chinensis, is a plant whose fruits are usually used for culinary and medicinal purposes. The latter are berries of deep red color, also known as "five-flavored fruits", as they have salty, sweet, sour, spicy and bitter notes. Why is it recommended?

According to a disclosure in the magazine Nutrients, This plant has important active compounds, such as lignans, triterpenes, phenolic acids, flavonoids, essential oils and polysaccharides. In particular, lignans have been associated with several positive health effects. Do you want to know more about it? Below we address its main properties and contraindications.

Uses and benefits of schisandra

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the schisandra it has been listed as a 'natural adaptogen'. This, as explained in an article shared on Journal of Ethnopharmacology, indicates that it provides a protective effect against stress caused by a wide variety of factors.

Thus, it is attributed antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, protective and detoxifying properties. What is it for? In eastern cultures it is a well-known remedy to prevent and treat some diseases. Still, the evidence is considered limited. Let's see in detail.



Asthma

For many centuries, extracts from schisandra have been used as a complement to soothe the symptoms of various respiratory diseases, like asthma.

In this regard, an investigation shared in Pharmacognosy Magazine determined that the berries of this plant inhibit the immunoglobulins that cause allergies and attenuate the sensitivity that leads to the contraction of the respiratory tract. Consequently, the intake of this supplement helps to reduce symptoms of cough and lung inflammation.

Asthma lung inflammation and airway contraction could be addressed with this extract.

Alzheimer disease

Due to their adaptogenic properties, derivatives of schisandra have been postulated as natural supplements to prevent Alzheimer's disease. An investigation in Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A found that schysandrin B, an active substance in the plant, inhibits the formation of excess beta amyloid peptides in the brain.

These effects are decisive in reducing cognitive deterioration, since the peptides form an amyloid plaque that is related to Alzheimer's. In another study, this substance was also associated with a lower risk of Parkinson's disease, due to its neuroprotective properties.

Arterial hypertension

Complements based on schisandra are a known remedy for mitigate cardiovascular symptoms that often occur during menopause. In an animal study shared on Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the oral extracts of this plant caused a vasodilator effect that favored the control of blood pressure.

Menopause

Related to the above benefit, this herbal supplement also it contributes to the reduction of other clinical manifestations of menopause. Through the magazine Climacteric it was reported that the extract from schisandra helps calm hot flashes, sweating and palpitations.

Liver diseases

The flavonoids contained in the schisandra, like quercetin and hesperetin, they exert an antioxidant effect that contributes to the care of liver health. An investigation in Food and Chemical Toxicology determined that pollen extracted from Schisandra chinensis decreases the toxic damage induced in the liver of mice.

Depression

Due to its ability to enhance the body's response to stress, it is believed that schisandra too positively affects mood, especially in patients with depression. On this, an animal study shared by Food & Function determined that the extracts of these berries have an antidepressant effect. However, these qualities have not been studied enough in humans.

Possible risks and side effects of schisandra

For most healthy adults, the berries of schisandra they are safe for consumption. Even the seeds are also ingested in order to improve digestion. However, its intake in excess is not recommended, since it can cause the following side effects:

  • Acidity.
  • Upset stomach and abdominal pain.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Itching and rashes (rare).

Given these effects, its intake is contraindicated in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or peptic ulcers. It is also not recommended in pregnant, lactating or children. Safety in these cases is unknown.

On the other hand, it is noted that it may have interactions with the following medications:

  • Antibiotics
  • Medications for diabetes.
  • Diuretics
  • Estrogen-based contraceptives.
  • Immunosuppressive drugs.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Statins

In case of being in treatment with these drugs, it is best to inform the doctor. It will be necessary to adjust the dose, or avoid taking the supplement.

Berries are very difficult to find on the market. Extracts are more likely to be found.

Schisandra business presentations

In the market it is difficult to get fresh berries from schisandra. Often, plant extracts are sold as capsules, tablets, liquids, and powders. Dried berries are also available online and are often added in different recipes, such as teas and drinks.

To date no single dose of these supplements has been established. Therefore, the amount recommended by the manufacturer on the label should not be exceeded. In general, dosages range from 500 to 2,000 milligrams daily.

What is there to remember?

The berries of schisandra They are used in oriental medicine with the aim of promoting well-being and preventing disease. While some studies support its properties, for now they are not considered a first-line treatment when it comes to fighting health problems. It is best to consult your doctor before taking these supplements.