Herbs

Schizandra holds a top spot in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Is Schizandra the Next Exotic Wonder Berry?


Schizandra, when it is said out loud it sounds like a foreign sware word or an Arabian password to open a huge stone gate. Schizandra certainly doesn’t sound like the name of a little healthful berry. So, the question is, “What is schizandra?”Schizandra is a berry, that turns out to be full of antioxidants and several other healthy constituents. Don't think of schizandra as another superfruit like goji or acai. Schizandra is much more than that. Think of schizandra as a strange, exotic berry that is only used for medicine. The berry owes its name Wu Wei Zi, who named it for its taste. The literal translation would be “five flavors”. This is due to the fact that it is sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent all at the same time and is definitely not a berry that is good to cover with dark chocolate or mix in with yogurt. The schizandra berry is best suited for various medicinal preparations. The Chinese classify schizandra for longevity and overall vitality but have used it for endurance, liver health, clarity of thought and as an aphrodisiac.
The schizandra fruit is the berry of a climbing vine native to northeast China and parts of Russia. It is cultivated in long rows, much like grapes in a vineyard and harvested in the end of July through the beginning of August. In the current climate of berry crazes, schizandra could sound like one more fruit to toss into your morning blender drink, but it is better than that. This unusual berry holds a top spot in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its superior medicinal benefits. It is good as a superfood but better when used in medicinal applications.
In China's northeast Liaoning province people grow a large amount of schizandra. Once harvested the schizandra berry is dried in the sun and then used in various formulas to improve vitality. The dried berries are usually ground into a powder and are used singly or in a formulas that have wonderful health benefits. Some berries are frozen, and eventually used to make health juices, primarily for the Korean market. And some berries are pressed and prepared for alcohol based tinctures and tonics.
Schizandra has been used for over two thousand years to prolong life, slow the aging process, increase energy, fight fatigue, and as a sexual tonic. Schizandra also possesses significant protective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Thus it helps to maintain healthy cells throughout the body. It is considered one of the most highly protective of all medicinal plants, and the berry is included in many traditional herbal formulas for improving energy and mental health.
Schizandra also offers special benefits for the mind. Several human studies show that schizandra extract improves concentration, coordination and endurance. Schizandra helps to prevent mental fatigue and increases accuracy and quality of work. In various human clinical studies with doctors, students, soldiers and other groups, schizandra demonstrated superior mind-sharpening powers.
Schizandra is making a big impression in the scientific community, as numerous studies demonstrate its potent health benefits. The schizandra berry is considered to be an adaptogen. What does this mean? To qualify as an adaptogen, an herb must be completely safe and non-toxic, it must have broad uses for health, and it must specifically reduce stress, both mental and physical. As an adaptogen, schizandra is a potent general tonic, decreasing fatigue, enhancing physical performance, and promoting endurance. The berry counters stress by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the blood. Additionally, schizandra offers great benefits for athletes. In human studies schizandra berry and its extracts have improved performance among long distance runners, skiers and gymnasts and for this reason it is often found on the training tables of Chinese athletes.
As if all these benefits weren’t enough, schizandra also offers first-rate liver-protective benefits. Schizandra helps in the treatment of hepatitis, as noted in over 500 cases. In fact, an anti-hepatitis drug was developed from Schizadrin C one of the constituents in the schizandra berry.

A Summary of the Benefits of Schizandra Berry?


Schizandra berry has been used for over 2,000 years in China, where it is said that it can help revive the body from stress and fatigue. Schizandra berries are sold as supplements online and in health food stores worldwide.
 

Energy Balance


Schizandra has gained popularity by providing an alternative to caffeine. According to the book "Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer" by Donald Yance, it is stated that the schizandra berry activates the nervous system without the jittery side effect of caffeine. Schizandra has an adaptogenic quality, which means it can restore energy balance to the body.
 

Mental Clarity


As documented by the Health Sciences Institute, schizandra raises the body's amount of the enzyme glutathione. Glutathione is a detoxifier and in turn, improves mental clarity. The schizandra berry has been described as an herb that develops mental and physical health and can potentially increase the body's ability to adapt to varied stimuli. The other famous adaptogen with similar accolades is Chinese Ginseng.
 

Liver Protection


Laboratory studies have demonstrated schizandra’s ability to make the enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, which deactivates several kinds of toxic “free radicals” that attack the outer membranes of liver cells. This process is believed to offset damage done to the liver by viral hepatitis, alcohol and HIV/AIDS. Further support for the liver comes in the form of another constituent in schizandra, gomison-A. Gomison-A helps to prevent liver inflammation and tissue destruction (without compromising the immune system's ability to fight the underlying infection).
 

Sexual Benefits


There are some definite benefits for both men and women sexually. There is nothing that enhances a sensual or sexual experience more than the feeling of youth and vigor. For thousands of years, Schizandra has been cherished by Chinese women (and men) to combat aging. Women have utilized it as a tonic to preserve their beauty and maintain youthful skin. Schizandra as an adaptogen is soothing in what might be considered a stressful situation clearing the path for focus and enjoyment in this way both men and women can use it as an enhancer. In men it is also thought to increase sexual stamina and blood flow. This all makes sense when thinking about the energy balance, mental clarity, the boost in stamina and the overall feeling of health and well being that schizandra provides. Furthermore, schizandra increases the efficacy of other herbs that are commonly used as aphrodisiacs.
 

Potential Anti-Cancer Properties


According to a human in vitro study that was published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, schizandra inhibits cancer cell growth for cancers such as leukemia. But because the study was performed on human cells in a test tube and not in humans, further research is needed for a complete conclusion.
 

Potential Heart Benefits


Because of the high level of antioxidants in schizandra, rat studies reported by the U.S. National Library of Medicine conclude that adriamycin-induced cardiotoxicity, or heart muscle damage caused by anti-cancer chemical therapy, can be improved with the antioxidant levels found in schizandra.
 

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