The Chinese were incredibly adept at discovering plants with medical uses. Scouring their environment, medicine men and women found natural performance enhancing compounds and studied their effects over time. Schisandra is a popular adaptogenic herb within traditional Chinese medicine.
Modern scientific research has validated some of the claims. One of the many schizandra berry benefits is to reduce stress and feelings of fatigue. A study suggests the fruit does so by reducing cortisol levels . These adaptogenic benefits make schisandra effective for many types of environmental stressors.
Beyond the stress relieving schisandra benefits, there are anti-inflammatory effects , memory and cognition enhancement , and can reduce symptoms of anxiety .
Also Known As
Schizandra, shisandra, Omija, Omija Cha, Gomishi, Repnihat, Wuweizi, Lemonwood, Northern Magnolia Vine, Chinese Magnolia Vine, Matsbouza
Editors’ Thoughts on Schisandra
I first learned about schisandra from Evan Brand on the Brain Optimization Summit. He’s a very knowledgeable practitioner with many years of adaptogen experience so I trust his judgement. His use case for schisandra was primarily to treat adrenal fatigue and people struggling with poor cortisol levels.
I’ve never taken this personally as I don’t suffer from acute stress or anxiety often. His recommendation does mean a lot and it seems to be one of the more popular adaptogenic herbs within the Chinese medicine pantheon.
Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor
History of Schisandra Chinensis
Schisandra chinensis is the latin name for this traditional Chinese medicinal plant. This vine climbs deciduous woody trees. While the plant bears flowers and fruits, it is the latter that captivated Chinese herbalists.
Hundreds of years ago, traditional Chinese herbalists found the schisandra berry could treat cough, asthma, and support those suffering from chronic fatigue. According to traditional lore, schisandra is “Qi-invigorating” . The Chinese believed Qi was a type of life force energy.
This schisandra chinensis benefit probably came from the anti-fatigue effects since researched in scientific settings.
Of the many schizandra benefits, perhaps most important is the antioxidant effect . This effect (and many of the cascading benefits) comes from a process called “hormesis”, where the body is exposed to some harmful effect in a low enough dose so as to protect and repair greater than before.
This translates to many other schisandra benefits, though for the brain it means a few things. For one, the hormetic response helps to reduce stress and feelings of anxiety, which in turn improves cognition and mental performance .
Schisandra reduces neuroinflammation . By downregulating certain “cytokines” and other inflammatory markers, this provides cognitive protective benefits. One molecule (schisandrin C) can even induce a pathway known as NRF2 similar to broccoli sprouts (sulfurophane) .
Memory and learning ability also increases while using shisandra fruit. According to one study, schizandra berry removed beta-amyloid pigmentation, which is a key sign of Alzheimer’s disease . The compound exerted neuroprotective effects against toxins to the brain as well .
Schisandra berry will reduce cortisol levels associated with stress and lessen symptoms of anxiety . There is some confounding evidence in this department, namely that studies were done with rhodiola rosea and southern ginseng which both have adaptogenic properties .
The final of many schisandra benefits relates to longevity and aging. The hormetic effect described above creates a response, which can enhance our mitochondrial health (the power generators of each of our cells) . With healthier mitochondria, they can produce more energy (ATP) and function more effectively for optimal physical and mental performance.
The schizandra berry is is the fruiting body of the plant. By itself, the fruit has many benefits, but only at a higher dosage. The extraction method for a real schizandra berry can be time consuming. Many of the studies on schizandra berry incorporated air-dried fruits that were then made into extracts .
The schisandra extract is far more valuable for typical day to day usage. The dose recommendations can be found below. Many of the psychoactive ingredients found in schisandra are in both the leaves and the fruit. The extracts may use the leaves to get these bioactive ingredients rather than the fruits alone.
Schisandra Side Effects
Many of the schisandra side effects are related to interactions with other drugs or timing of use. For example, traditional Chinese medicine suggests avoiding schisandra chinensis during pregnancy. There isn’t much human evidence to suggest these schisandra side effects, but it may be best to listen to traditional wisdom. Women who are preparing or trying to conceive shouldn’t take schisandra.
Drugs like warfarin also interact with schisandra, which can reduce prescription drug efficacy. Those taking blood thinners may want to steer clear of shisandra berry for that reason.
There are multiple ways to consume your daily schizandra dosage. The most common is to consume schisandra extract powder / capsules at a dose of 1 – 3 grams per day. This is the easiest and most reliable way to consume the adaptogenic herb.
Alternatives (found primarily in the scientific literature) include the air-drying extraction method. Dried schisandra fruit in a 1:6 ratio via ethanol yields around 20 – 30 drops daily. A 150 mL drink of 1:20 ratio extraction using water will also do the trick.
Neither are recommended for ease purposes.
How and Where to Buy Schisandra
The popularity of schisandra berry in traditional Chinese medicine has made it a common supplement. While a few health supplement stores might have schisandra capsules in extract form, it may be best to search for reliable products online.
We suggest going with a reliable brand like Nature’s Way. They have schizandra berry capsules affordably priced here.
Selected Community Experiences
“Schisandra was an interesting experience for me. I felt happier and more relaxed for some parts of the day, and then others I became extremely angry at everything. I'm wondering if it was lowering my blood sugar.”  – throwaway20166
“The whole fruit from Nature's Way seems to have a consistent maintain-performance-under-stress effect for me. I can hardly defend this in a rigorous way though. It's just anecdotal based on a few casual public CS:S games where performance seemed increased under threat of multiple targets.”  – shrillthrill
These schisandra reviews are useful because much of the scientific evidence regarding this compound is done in animal models or elderly. There are few healthy adult studies, which is why including shisandra reviews can be helpful to determine which experience is most common.
Do not rely solely on the schisandra reviews to understand the effects of this nootropic compound. We recommend looking at valid scientific data and these anecdotal reports together to make your decision.
- References (Click to Expand)