Schisandra, like many of the other foods and herbs, has nearly a hundred studies or more proving its effectiveness. However since most of these studies are in Russian or Chinese, western society remains unaware of its benefits. Not helping is the fact that an enormous amount of detailed information contained in a number of key articles in Russian remains relatively inaccessible to Western scientists.
The very name of Schisandra in Chinese, “Wu Wei Zi”, tells us a great deal about the qualities of this herb. Wu Wei Zi means “Five Flavors Fruit.” Due to the fact that Schisandra possesses all five of the classical “tastes” -sour, bitter, sweet, spicy and salty. In Chinese medicine, Schisandra tonifies all three treasures, enters all twelve meridians and nurtures all five elements. The three treasures are the three fundamental energies that make up life. The meridians are the energy channels that flow throughout the body. The five elements are the five energy states of nature -water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. In short, Schisandra is a rare herb that can actually benefit all the bodily functions and organs of the body.
Schisandra is also used to support concentration, memory and alertness. Yet, unlike caffeine-like stimulants, Schisandra does not produce nervousness. In fact, some people consider Schisandra has a mildly “calming” effect, yet simultaneously produces wakefulness and focus. Moderate doses of Schisandra can support various activities requiring concentration, fine coordination, sensitivity and endurance.
Schisandra has been shown to strengthen and protect the liver. It does this by detoxifying and rejuvenating this critical organ. There are two critical stages to the process of normal liver detoxification, known as Phase I and Phase II. In Phase I, a detoxifying agent goes into the liver and binds with toxins, releasing them from the liver and taking them into the bloodstream. Almost always, this newly bound toxic bundle is more toxic than the original toxin. This increased toxicity is known as bio-activation. Old toxins in their new bio-activated form re-exposures the body to these old toxins, and they will end up back in the liver again, or stored in other tissues. During phase II of detoxification, the bio-activated toxins, which may be highly active, are safely cleared out of the body. This, of course, is the part we all want to happen in quick and efficient order. If the phase II process is weak, faulty or absent, all we have done is re-poison ourselves. Many substances can go into the liver and release old toxins into the bloodstream. As a result, you go through an increased toxic period. The so-called cleansing crisis experienced by many people who go through various types of cleanses, is largely the result of bio-activated toxins wreaking havoc in the body. It is therefore very important to boost Phase II activity along with phase I, and Schisandra appears to be very effective in boosting both Phase I detoxification and Phase II clearance of activated toxins.
In healthy subjects, Schisandra increases endurance and accuracy of movement, mental performance and working capacity, and generates alterations in the basal levels of nitric oxide and cortisol in blood and saliva. Many human studies have been done to study the effects of Schisandra on vision and eye health. These studies have shown that Schisandra can support vision, even enlarging the
field of vision, and can support hearing. Schisandra also contains the trace mineral tin, which has anticancer properties and the potential to support bodily growth factors.