Schisandra is a plant. The fruit is used as food and also to make medicine.
Schisandra is used as an “adaptogen” for increasing resistance to disease and stress, increasing energy, and increasing physical performance and endurance.
Schisandra is also used for preventing early aging and increasing lifespan, normalizing blood sugar and blood pressure, stimulating the immune system, and speeding recovery after surgery.
It is also used for treating liver disease (hepatitis) and protecting the liver from poisons. The Chinese have developed a liver-protecting drug called DBD that is made from schizandrin, one of the chemicals in schisandra.
Other uses for schisandra include treatment of high cholesterol, pneumonia, coughs, asthma, sleep problems (insomnia), tiredness and irritability associated with emotional disturbance (neurasthenia), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), chronic diarrhea, dysentery, night sweats, spontaneous sweating, involuntary discharge of semen, thirst, erectile dysfunction (ED), physical exhaustion, excessive urination, depression, irritability, and memory loss. It is also used in children to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks of fever associated with an inherited disease called familial Mediterranean fever.
Some people use schisandra for improving vision ad muscular activity, protecting against radiation, preventing motion sickness, preventing infection, boosting energy at the cellular level, and improving the health of the adrenal glands.
Schisandra fruit is eaten as a food.
How does it work?
The chemicals in schisandra improve liver function by stimulating enzymes (proteins that speed up biochemical reactions) in the liver and promoting liver cell growth.
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Effective for
- Mental performance. Taking schisandra fruit extract by mouth, alone or in combination with rhodiola and Siberian ginseng, seems to improve concentration, attention, and speed of thinking.
- Hepatitis. Schisandra fruit extracts reduce blood levels of an enzyme called glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (SGPT) in people with hepatitis. SGPT level is a marker for liver damage. A higher SGPT level means more damage; a lower SGPT means less damage.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Exercise performance. Taking schisandra fruit extract by mouth seems to improve coordination and endurance.
- Inherited fever disorder (Familial Mediterranean fever). Early research suggests that taking a combination product (ImmunoGuara, Inspired Nutritionals) containing andrographis, Siberian ginseng, schisandra, and licorice reduces the severity and frequency of familial Mediterranean fever attacks.
- Nearsightedness. Early research suggests that applying a solution of schisandra for 20-24 days can improve vision in children with nearsightedness. However, schisandra does not improve vision in children with progressive nearsightedness.
- Pneumonia. Early research suggests that taking a combination of rhodiola, schisandra, and Siberian ginseng (Chisan) twice daily for 10-15 days reduces the need for antibiotics and improves quality of life in people with pneumonia when taken along with standard care.
- Preventing premature aging.
- Preventing motion sickness.
- High blood pressure.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate schisandra for these uses.
Side Effects & Safety
Schisandra fruit is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately. It can cause heartburn, upset stomach, decreased appetite, stomach pain, skin rash, and itching.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Schisandra is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. There is some evidence that it might cause the uterus to contract, and this might lead to miscarriage. Do not use schisandra during pregnancy. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking schisandra during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Epilepsy: At least one expert warns against using schisandra if you have epilepsy. The reason for this warning is not clear, but it may be due to a concern that schisandra could possibly stimulate the central nervous system.
Gastroesophageal reflex disease (GERD) or peptic ulcers: Schisandra might make these conditions worse by increasing stomach acid.
High brain (intracranial) pressure: There is a concern that schisandra might make this condition worse because it could possibly stimulate the central nervous system.
Be cautious with this combination
- Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates) interacts with SCHISANDRASome medications are changed and broken down by the liver.Schisandra might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking schisandra along with medications that are broken down by the liver might decrease the effects of these medications. Before taking schisandra, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.Some medications changed by the liver include celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), fluvastatin (Lescol), glipizide (Glucotrol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), phenytoin (Dilantin), piroxicam (Feldene), tamoxifen (Nolvadex), tolbutamide (Tolinase), torsemide (Demadex), and warfarin (Coumadin).
- Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with SCHISANDRASome medications are changed and broken down by the liver.Schisandra might change how the liver breaks down some medications. Taking schisandra along with some medications that are broken down by the liver might increase or decrease the effects of these medications. Before taking schisandra, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), clarithromycin (Biaxin), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), diltiazem (Cardizem), estrogens, indinavir (Crixivan), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.
- Tacrolimus (Prograf) interacts with SCHISANDRASchisandra might increase how much tacrolimus (Prograf) is absorbed from the gut. Taking schisandra along with tacrolimus (Prograf) might increase the effects and side effects of tacrolimus (Prograf). The dose of your tacrolimus (Prograf) might need to be changed if it is taken with schisandra.
- Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with SCHISANDRAWarfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. The body breaks down warfarin (Coumadin) to get rid of it. Schisandra might increase the breakdown and decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). Decreasing the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin) might increase the risk of clotting. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For hepatitis: Schisandra extract standardized to 20 mg lignan content (equivalent to 1.5 grams crude schisandra) given daily.
- For improving mental and physical performance: 500 mg to 2 grams of schisandra extract daily or 1.5-6 grams of crude schisandra daily. 5-15 grams daily of a boiled tea made from crude schisandra has also been used. People have also taken 100 mg of schisandra extract twice daily. Appropriate dosing may vary depending on extract type and the lignan content.