SCHISANDRA (Schisandra chinensis)

Family: Schisandraceae

Parts commonly used: Seed.

Properties/energetics: Adaptogen, astringent, antioxidant, tonic, expectorant, liver protective/Warm; sour (but contains all five tastes).

Systems predominantly affected:  Nervous, adrenal, respiratory, digestive, liver.

Uses: Schisandra’s effects can be grouped into four areas. First, it is a mild adaptogen, helping increase resistance to nonspecific stresses, and therefore particularly useful for recovery from long-term illness or deficiency and physical and mental burnout. Second, it has a beneficial effect on the liver, helping regenerate tissue and normalizing liver-enzyme levels. Third, it acts on the respiratory tract, helping with weak chronic coughs and weak, labored breathing when one gets winded easily. Last, Schisandra has a regulating effect on the central nervous system; alcohol extracts prove to be useful for mental and physical fatigue with associated headache, heart palpitation, anxiety, and so on. Its water extracts have been shown to have more stimulating effects, weaker yet similar in nature to caffeine. It has also been shown to have a normalizing effect on acid secretions in the stomach, increasing or lowering the pH depending on the body’s needs.

Affects on specific body types: Depending on the herbs it’s combined with, Schisandra’s benefits can be enjoyed in both Seer and Monarch conditions. In the Seer pattern of poor resistance to stress and a tendency toward nervousness, anxiety, and irritability, the alcohol extract can be of much benefit. In addition to these general adaptogenic effects, it can help strengthen the liver, counteract the tendency toward shallow breathing, and normalize the Seer’s stomach secretions, which tend to swing back and forth under stress. In the Monarch, water extracts can help stimulate an underactive nervous system and a poorly secreting stomach. When used by the Seer, Schisandra should be combined with nutritive tonics that feed the adrenal glands, such as Licorice and American Ginseng. With the Monarch, Schisandra will work better in conjunction with Turmeric, Rosemary, and Ginger.

Precautions: Can occasionally cause heartburn.

Preparations/dosage: Decoction: 1/2 to 1 cup three times a day. Cold infusion: 1/2 to 1 cup three times a day. Tincture: 15 to 40 drops three times a day.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition