The schisandra, scientific name Schisandra chinensis, is a plant whose fruits are often used for culinary and medicinal purposes. The latter are deep red berries, also known as “five-flavored fruits,” as they have salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter notes. Why schisandra berries are recommended?
According to a disclosure in the journal 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? Next, we address its main properties and contraindications.
Uses and Benefits of Schisandra Berries
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the schisandra has been listed as a “natural adaptogen”. This, as an article shared in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology explains, 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.
For many centuries, schisandra extracts have been used as a supplement to calm the symptoms of various respiratory diseases, such as asthma.
In this regard, an investigation shared in Pharmacognosy Magazine determined that the berries of this plant inhibit 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.
2. Alzheimer disease
Due to their adaptogenic properties, schisandra derivatives have been postulated as natural supplements to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Research in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A found that esquisandrina B, an active ingredient of 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.
3. Arterial hypertension
Schisandra-based supplements are a popular remedy for relieving cardiovascular symptoms that often occur during menopause. In an animal study shared in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, oral extracts of this plant caused a vasodilator effect that favored blood pressure control.
Related to the previous benefit, this herbal supplement also contributes to the reduction of other clinical manifestations of menopause. Through the magazine Climacteric it was reported that schisandra extract helps calm hot flashes, sweating and palpitations.
5. Liver diseases
The flavonoids contained in schisandra, such as quercetin and hesperetin, 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 reduces the toxic damage induced in the liver of mice.
Due to its ability to enhance the body’s response to stress, schisandra is also believed to have a positive effect on 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 berries
For most healthy adults, schisandra berries are safe to eat. 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:
- 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:
- Medications for diabetes.
- Estrogen-based contraceptives.
- Immunosuppressive drugs.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
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.
Schisandra business presentations
Fresh schisandra berries are hard to come by on the market. Often, the 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?
Schisandra berries are used in oriental medicine to promote well-being and prevent disease. Although some studies support their properties, for now they are not considered a first-line treatment when it comes to combating health problems. It is best to consult your doctor before taking these supplements.