“What the heck is a schizandra berry?”
Great question. Besides being one of my favorite words of all time, schizandra is is also an incredibly powerful tonic, or daily maintenance herb. I’ve personally been using it more regularly as of late and I’m pretty darn excited about the gentle cleansing and beautifying effects I’ve been noticing.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this magical ancient fruit, this post will give you a quick rundown of why it’s such an important superfood/superherb to incorporate into your diet and will also give you two very easy and fun ways to painlessly incorporate it into your daily routine if you choose to do so.
First of all, schizandra berry is very different from other popular “superberries” you’re probably familiar with like blueberries, acai berries or even goji berries. Because of it’s potent properties and pronounced taste, It’s more like an herb and less like a food, meaning you need to use it in much smaller quantities than you would use traditional berries to reap the benefits.
Shisandra chinensis been used in Chinese Medicine for over 2000 years and has been verified by modern research to have pretty amazing health enhancing effects on the body. It’s been shown to be one of the most well-balanced daily maintenance, or “tonic” herbs in existence, providing multi-organ support and an array of benefits. Truthfully, when you start to look at the research that’s been done on this herb and try to list all of the benefits, it starts to sound pretty ridiculous. But when you have substance that’s helped so many people for so long—we’re talking over the course of multiple dynasties in ancient China—the evidence (both anecdotal and scientific) starts to pile up. Nevertheless, to keep from sounding like I’m making stuff up, I’m going to list just some of the main bullet points that really stand out about schizandra and leave the rest up to your own research and experimentation, if you’d like to explore that more.
1. It’s the safest way to detoxify your liver
Your liver is one of the primary organs that your your body uses to detoxify environmental pollutants and metabolize drugs and alcohol. We live in a world where we are exposed to more chemicals in one day than our ancient ancestors were exposed to in their entire lives. A world where almost everyone takes some kind of pharmaceutical or recreational drug on a regular basis. And where alcohol is the primary way many of us “unwind” from the stress of modern living. All this takes a toll on our liver, and consequently our health.
There are many herbs that can cleanse the liver, however most are so cleansing that they will, in fact, send the body into a “healing crisis” where so much waste is dumped into the bloodstream that overt detox reactions like diarrhea, hives, and flu-like symptoms can occur as your body tries to deal with unloading the toxic load that has been “loosened up.” Not good and not fun.
The unique thing about schizandra is that it not only has the ability to clean the liver of toxins, it also has the ability to cleanse the blood of the waste that has been removed, transporting it safely out of the body. Schizandra is one of the only herbs known to have this dual capability, known as Phase I and Phase II detoxification.
For this reason, schizandra is a supremely powerful liver protective herb. There is also evidence that schizandra can lessen the damaging effects of excessive alcohol consumption if consumed prior to drinking. Impressed yet?
2. It improves brain function
Especially relating to concentration, memory & alertness. Schizandra also has a dual-directional function on the central nervous system, meaning that it can act as a stimulant when you need a lift, yet also serve as a mild sedative you when you are overstimulated due to nervousness, anxiety, etc. The stimulation derived from schizandra is not anything like you’d expect from coffee or caffeinated beverages. It is a balanced boost and does not cause the jitters or nervousness at all. Schizandra is completely caffeine free.
3. It gives you beautiful skin
Because of schizandra’s astringent quality, it helps the skin retain its natural moisture and “dewyness,” making it an excellent beauty tonic. It has been used for centuries to make the skin soft, moist and radiant, and to maintain skin quality. Schizandra also protects against UVB induced skin damage.
In addition to the specific skin-enhancing qualities of schizandra, there are secondary beautifying benefits when you consider the radiant glow you achieve by detoxifying your body of gross stuff.
4. It supports and nourishes multiple organs
In addition to being an excellent liver tonic, schizandra seems to have an affinity for multiple organ systems throughout the body, especially the kidneys, lungs, heart and brain. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s widespread and varied benefits correlate to it’s varied taste properties. It is believed to be the only food to contain all five basic flavor sensations—sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and pungent. In fact, the Chinese name for schizandra, Wu Wei Zi, translates as “five flavors fruit.” In Chinese medicine, each of the flavors corresponds to a different organ, season, element and even emotion. This is why schizandra is said to be the most balanced herb of all.
5. It helps you recover faster
Schizandra seems to stimulate the production of the antioxidant glutathione, which prevents damage to cells caused by intense physical activity, among other stressors.
6. You’ll have more sex
Schizandra has been shown to help stimulate semen production in men and cervical fluid in women. It has been used as a sexual tonic, but not in a “Viagra” type of way. This is a daily supplement, not an instant fix for erection problems.
7. It’s a whole body adaptogen
Schizandra is in the same “superior” class as other well known tonic herbs such as Ginseng, Reishi and Goji berry.
WHAT MAKES SCHIZANDRA AN “ADAPTOGENIC” AND “TONIC” HERB?
The terms “adaptogen” and “tonic” can almost always be used interchangeably, with the term “adaptogen” being a more modern way to describe the properties of ancient tonic herbs. According to modern herbalism, an herb can be classified as an adaptogen only if it meets all of the following requirements:
- must be non-toxic regardless of dosage
- must be able to be taken daily
- must be a naturally occurring substance such as a plant or fungi
- must have a resisting stress response,
- must have a balancing effect on the body’s organ systems, promoting homeostasis
- must have a non-specific response on body, meaning that it’s does not have only one specific function.
Schizandra meets all of these requirements. It’s important to note that throughout history thousands upon thousands of plants have been studied and used, however only a handful meet the requirements to be considered an adaptogen.
“How do I get this goodness into my body?”
1. Go to your local herb store or order schizandra online and blend about 1 tablespoon of the dried berries with about 16 ounces of water. Then, strain the liquid to remove any schizandra bits. Add sweetener of your choice to taste. You now have a beautiful pinkish-purplish “schizandra-ade.” You can even add some lemon or lime to make a more traditional type of lemonade or limeade.
2. Take a schizandra supplement. There are some pretty good ones out there on the market. I recently finished making a pretty concentrated schizandra extract myself, which I’ve made available on my Etsy store.
Feel free to email me with any questions, comments or suggestions!
In abundant health,
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. According to the FDA, the only things that can treat or cure disease are drugs and surgery. Therefore, the information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only. It is in no way intended as medical advice, as a substitute for medical counseling, or as treatment cure for any disease or health condition because that would be illegal. Always work with a qualified health professional before making any changes to your diet, supplement use, prescription drug use, lifestyle or exercise activities. You assume all risks for the use, misuse or non-use of this product and information. Consult your healthcare practitioner before use if pregnant or nursing.