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(Schisandra sinensis)

Traditionally used:

as a tonic for fatigue, to improve mental performance and memory, and to improve physical performance, endurance, and resistance to the effects of stress

as a general tonic and restorative to the liver, as a protectant of the liver for use during hepatotoxic drug regimes, and for acute or chronic liver disease, including hepatitis

for chronic cough and asthma and to stimulate immune function in chronic and frequent infections

for depressive states

The Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China describes chronic coughs and asthma as traditional uses for schisandra.

Scientist Albert Y. Leung suggests that liver disease is an excellent indication for schisandra: "Modern laboratory studies have found some of its constituents to have strong antioxidant and liver-protectant qualities," he explains. "Its extracts and lignans are now being used to effectively treat liver diseases (e.g. viral hepatitis). In the west, silymarin (from milk thistle) is well known for its beneficial effects on the liver," he adds. "One can soon add schisandra as its equal or superior."

Herbalist Donald Yance describes the following attributes for schisandra: "Schisandra is widely used for the treatment of stress-induced nervous system exhaustion and fatigue, insomnia, weakness, depression, forgetfulness, vision problems, diarrhoea and chemical toxicity." Yance adds that schisandra is a "potent antioxidant", superior to vitamin antioxidants against free radicals.

"I use quite a bit of schisandra seed extract in my practice," Yance explains. "I find it an invaluable plant medicine. As an adaptogen, it is particularly good for the asthenic-hypo-functioning-type with fatigue, poor circulation, and mild depression."

One review of adaptogens for central nervous system issues concluded that, "Preparations of schisandra (in the form of tincture, decoction and tablets) have been found to be effective in the treatment of general asthenia, exhaustion and reduced physical and mental performance, with more than 250 patients showing improvement after 2-10 weeks of therapy. The treatment showed a particularly remarkable effect on a group of patients (n=200) with nervous disorders, where an increase in general well-being and working capacity, as well as a decrease in sleepiness and flabbiness, was observed." The authors concluded that schisandra was effective for depression, as well as having a normalizing effect on blood pressure, "regardless if it was lower or higher than normal originally".

Administration: (adults) take 0.7-1.2 ml (20-35 drops) three times daily in a little water on an empty stomach.

Contra-indications and Cautions:
Consult a health care practitioner prior to use if you suffer from anxiety or schizophrenia. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Continued use may trigger insomnia and excitability in sensitive individuals.