What is Shisandra Berry?
Schisandra Berry is a small red fruit that is native to China. The Chinese name is Wu Wei Zi, which means five-flavored fruit, to reflect the five flavors or elements recognized in Chinese Medicine: Sour (Wood), Bitter (Fire), Sweet (Earth), Acrid (Metal), and Salty (Water). Based on the "Five-Element" theory, while the "five tastes" of Schisandra berry refer to its influence on the five visceral organs in the body, ancient Chinese herbalists specifically trumpeted the berry's beneficial effect on the "Qi" of the five visceral organs. "Qi" is a Chinese term used as a broad description of energy-dependent body functions.
The fruit has been used for centuries in East Asia and is still used today for its wide range of health benefits. In TCM, Schisandra Berry is considered to be a "yang" tonic herb, which means it is thought to provide energy and vitality. The medicinal material is collected in the autumn when the fruits are ripe. They are usually sun-dried and used in their raw form, or after being steamed with vinegar and honey and then sun-dried.
Modern science is now beginning to substantiate some of the many health benefits associated with this humble berry. Here are six science-backed reasons to start incorporating Schisandra Berry into your diet:
Health Benefits of Schisandra Berry
1) It's an Antioxidant Powerhouse
Studies have shown that Schisandra Berry has high levels of antioxidants, including flavonoids and lignans. This makes it an effective weapon against free radicals and inflammation. Antioxidants are important because they help protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage, leading to inflammation and other diseases.
In addition, several test-tube and animal studies suggest that Schisandra Berry extract may have anti-cancer properties. These studies show that Schisandra Berry extract can induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. However, human studies are needed to confirm these effects.
2) It Boosts Brain Function
Schisandra Berry extract has also been traditionally used to enhance memory and cognitive function. Modern science has backed up these claims, with studies showing that Schisandra Berry extract can improve mental performance, reaction time, and concentration in both healthy adults and those with cognitive impairments.
In a study evaluating the effects of Schisandra Berry on depression and cognitive function, those who took Schisandra Berry extract for four weeks had significantly better performance on memory and cognitive tests than those who did not take the extract. Another study found that Schisandra extract improved mental performance in people with fatigue. The participants in this study also reported feeling more energetic and less tired.
3) It Reduces Stress Levels
Adrenal fatigue is a condition characterized by feelings of weakness, tiredness, and stress. Some studies suggest that Schisandra Berry may help reduce adrenal fatigue by reducing stress hormone levels and improving the function of the adrenal glands. Schisandra Berry extract has also been shown to reduce physical and mental fatigue in animal studies.
In addition Schisandra Berry has also been used as a natural remedy to help with excess night sweating and sporadic sweating episodes.
4) It Promotes Glowing Skin
Chinese royalty cherished Schisandra Berry for its beauty and anti-aging properties. Packed with antioxidants, including Vitamins C and E, Schisandra Berry’s strong astringent qualities enable the skin to hold in moisture for more fullness. The berry may also protect against UVB induced skin damage. Traditionally eaten in combination with Goji Berry, the Schisandra Berry is still used today as an important botanical in many Eastern skin formulas.
5) It Protects the Liver
The liver is responsible for over 500 different functions in the body, including filtering toxins from the blood and producing bile for fat digestion. One of the most well-known benefits of Schisandra berry is its liver-protecting effects. In a study of rats with chemically-induced liver damage, those that were given Schisandra Berry extract had significantly lower levels of liver enzymes and markers of oxidative stress than those that did not receive the extract. Schisandra Berry has long been used in TCM as a liver tonic herb to protect the liver from damage and improve liver function.
Schisandra Berry is an Asian superfood with many modern-day uses. Modern science has supported many of the health claims associated with this small red fruit, including its ability to boost liver health, enhance brain function, reduce stress and fatigue, fight cancer cells, and scavenge harmful toxins from the body.
Incorporating this powerful little berry into your diet is easy—you can find it dried, pulverized into powder form, or as an extract or tincture at your local health food store. If you are looking for a natural way to boost your health and well-being, consider adding this humble fruit to your diet. As always, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or taking any supplements.