Schisandra is known as the "quintessence of Chinese tonic herbs.” It was passed down from ancient herbalists and has been revered as one of the elite herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine ever since.
Schisandra balances the activity of our nervous system. It grounds us and helps us react positively to our daily stresses.
Schisandra also removes toxins from beneath the skin and gives it the necessary moisture that it needs.
It sharpens our focus and concentration and is also favoured by athletes for its ability to increase lung capacity, allocate energy more efficiently and to aid recovery.
Schisandra strengthens and protects the liver, balances the activity of the nervous system, improves focus and concentration, enhances libido and physical performance.
First mentioned in Shen Nong's Classic of Herbal Medicine, published around 200BC. It was said to benefit qi, supplement insufficiency, support yin and benefit male essence.
During the 7th century (Tang dynasty) the Newly Revised Canon of Materia Medica was published. This is credited as the world's first pharmacopeia. It discusses the “five flavours” of schizandra:
“ The outer skin is sweet and sour, the kernel is pungent and bitter, the whole fruit is salty”
Tang dynasty empress Wu Zetian who ruled between 690 and 705 AD reportedly used schizandra as a daily tonic to maintain her health and beauty. She lived to the age of 81 (pretty amazing in those days!)
Throughout the Tang dynasty it was a popular herb taken by women to preserve their looks and by men as a sexual performance enhancer (preventing premature ejaculation). It was commonly used by the emperor's concubines.
Harvested in autumn, dried in the sun
Divided into northern schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) and southern schisandra (Schisandra sphenanthera). Northern is better quality.
Warm and moist in nature.
Contains all five flavours and enters the five yin organs:
It is primarily sour, and most strongly affects the Heart, Lung and Kidney. Being sour, it acts an an astringent – controlling and preserving fluids.
In the Lung it replenishes qi, reduces phlegm and stops coughing.
In the Kidney it preserves essence.
It also acts as an astringent in the intestines to stop diarrhoea, prevents excessive sweating and promotes production of body fluids.
It is indicated for Lung qi deficiency, Lung and Kidney deficiency, spontaneous sweating due to qi deficiency, injured qi and yin, diabetes, spermatorrhoea, frequent urination.
The heart houses the shen – through its effect on the Heart schizandra also benefits the shen. This allows it to regulate the emotions and calm anxiety and stress (adaptogenic function)
One of the only herbs to nourish all three treasures – jing, qi and shen.
Anti-ageing properties can be attributed to the Lung and Kidney (jing).
Immune system benefits attributed to the Lung.
Emotional benefits attributed to the Heart (shen).
Wide variety of lignans – protect liver, immuno-modulation
vitamins C and E
Schizandra has been shown to modulate the central nervous system, improve circulation, dilate blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. However there have been cases of increased blood pressure in patients with circulatory failure - exercise caution.
It is indicated as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immuno-modulator.
Protects the liver and aids detoxification.
Possible anti-cancer properties.
Most of Schisandra's scientific research has been done in Russia, China and South Korea. Unfortunately, a lot of important scientific literature is not available to western scientists. Interestingly, Schisandra proved so important to Russian scientists in the 1960's that it received official Russian medicinal status. At the time, only a few other natural herbs were on that list.
Bordering North Korea, this mountain is lost in the northern reaches of China. Pristine and left mostly untouched, this is the most potent source of Schisandra. Average temperatures of 2-6 degrees give Schisandra the perfect conditions to grow wildly and in abundance.
Changbai mountains means “Eternal White Mountain” - it is covered in snow for most of the year. The climate is extremely cold, which allows the plants to grow for 108 days of the year.
At the top of one of the peaks is Tianchi - “Heavenly Lake”. Right on the North Korean border, which was formed in the crater of a volcano. Half the lake is in China, half is in Korea. It is the source of three major rivers of North-East China and therefore plays a massive role in the ecology of the area.
The waters that flow down from Heaven Lake nourish the dense forests that cover the mountain range.
There are more than 1300 types of usable herbs that are found in Changbai. Around 400 of them are used commonly and about 100 of them grow in abundance. In actual, the soil of the Changbai Mountain is volcanic lava. The lava that came out from the deepest part of the Earth is very rich in some valuable minerals.
Minerals like germanium, zinc, selenium and some other trace elements that are present.
This region also is supremely high in diamagnetism; an element that governs gravity and levity and keeps the planet balanced on its poles. Diamagnetism assists plants and trees with vertical growth and enhances their reach and resiliency.
There was once an orphan boy named Ku Wa who lived in Changbai Mountains. With no parents to take care of him the poor villagers of the town could only afford to feed him pig and dog food and to dress him in rags.
Soon he became so ill that the people didn’t know what to do with him any more and decided to banish him into the forest. In the forests his conditions grew worse and worse until one day as he was laying there completely hopeless, a magpie flew over him and dropped a seed next to where he lay.
The seed quickly sprouted and grew into a plant covered in red berries. Ku Wa was hungry so he tasted the fruit. They tasted so refreshing that he carried on eating them, and as he did he grew stronger and stronger.
He eventually grew up to be a healthy young man, got married and had children. Every day he remembered to thank the plant which saved him. It was now growing all through the forests of Changbaishan. The plant was, of course, wu wei zi. (schisandra berry)