Schizandra (Schisandra chinensis)

What is Schizandra?

Schizandra is commonly referred to as the 5-flavor berry. This is a fitting name for the herb’s strange flavor which has aspects of bitter, sour, sweet, salty, and umami. The flavor will change in your mouth as you chew it, and is even reported to taste differently depending on your mood.

Medicinally, schizandra is used as a tonic for the skin, hair, and nails. It’s often included in beauty supplements and cosmetic products and was a popular herb among women in China for promoting natural beauty and vibrant skin.

Modern uses of the herb revolve around its ability to stimulate both phase I and phase II liver detoxification pathways. This action makes the herb useful for many different conditions. It’s used to help regulate hormones (which are metabolized in the liver), promote immune health and red blood cell production, and eliminate metabolic or xenobiotic waste from the bloodstream.

Schizandra is widely used in herbal formulas aimed at treating female reproductive issues involving excessive hormone production (like endometriosis or hirsutism) and during withdrawal periods of recovering drug addicts and alcoholics.

Common Names for Shizandra

  • 5-Flavor Berry
  • Schisandra
  • Wu Wei Zu (Chinese)
  • Wurenchum

Herbal Actions of Schizandra

  • Adaptogenic
  • Antidepressant (mild)
  • Antioxidant
  • Antitussive
  • Female Tonic
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Nervine tonic
  • Oxytocic

Safety & Contraindications

Schizandra is a very safe herb — however, due to the effects on female hormone levels, schizandra should be avoided during pregnancy unless under the guidance of an experienced herbal medicine practitioner.