Herbal Supplements
Schisandra and its Beneficial Actions
Biological Description
The nature of schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) plant is best reflected in its Chinese name - wu-wei-zi – which is translated as “five-flavour fruit”. Its berries possess all the major tastes – sour, salty, spicy, bitter and sweet. Other known names of schisandra include Schisandra japonica, Maximowiczia chinensis and Kadsura chinensis.
The genus of schisandra shrub is usually grown in gardens, with vines reaching the height from 15 to 25 feet and width 5-10 feet. From April to May the plant is in blossom, producing the flowers of about 1 inch in diameter. Later the woody wine would bear the clusters of tiny bright red fruits.
Schisandra prefers well-drained and well-moistured retentive soil. The plant usually grows well in quite deep shade and requires some protection from the intense sunlight.The genus is found throughout nortern and north-east China and neighbouring areas of Korea and Russia.
Parts Used
Traditionally, mostly the ripe, sun-dried berries are used for various medicinal purposes. They are found raw or powdered in various preparations. However, young leaves are sometimes being cooked and used as a vegetable.
Schisandra is available at market and drugstores in capsules, extracts, or powdered forms.
Lignans are the major chemical compounds found in the plant seeds in high amounts. These components show immune-boosting symptoms and protect liver cells from external damages by producing antioxidant substances. Essential oils and numerous acids enhance brain activity, stimulate neurotic and sexual functions. Adaptogen properties of the plant improve concentration and attention-span, increase acuity of vision and hearing, and help fight stress in general.
Health Benefits
A wide variety of medical conditions is known to be treated with schisandra herbal preparations. The plant is especially beneficial as a kidney tonic (regenerates liver tissue damaged by harmful influences of viral hepatitis and alcohol) and lung astringent. It is also potent against coughs, night sweats, insomnia, thirst, and physical exhaustion.
The plant shows good results in increasing physical and mental performance, in stimulating sexual functions, and in strengthening muscular abilities. Schisandra is also known as anti-fatigue herb; it is often applied against the diseases of gastrointestinal organs. It should be known that the FDA has not yet reviewed this herb for potential risks, side effects and effectiveness. Before deciding on taking it, consult the health care provider as for potential risks and possible drug interactions.
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