Schizandra (Schizandra chinensis) is a creeping vine with small red berries that is native to Northern China. In ancient China, Schizandra was used as a staple food for hunting and gathering tribes. As a traditional medicinal herb, Schizandra, called Wu-wei-tzu in China, has been used as an astringent for a treatment for dry cough, asthma, night sweats, nocturnal seminal emissions and chronic diarrhea. It is also used as a tonic for the treatment of chronic fatigue.
During the early 1980’s Chinese doctors began researching Schizandra as a treatment for hepatitis. Schizandra is now a recognized “adaptogen,” capable of increasing the body’s resistance to disease and stress. In Asia, this adaptogenic property is said to stimulate immune defenses, balance body function, normalize body systems, boost recovery after surgery, protect against radiation, counteract the effects of sugar, optimize energy in times of stress, increase stamina, protect against motion sickness, normalize blood sugar and blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol, shield against infection, improve the health of the adrenals, energize RNA-DNA molecules to rebuild cells and produces energy comparable to that of a young athlete.
Western herbalists commonly recommend Schizandra for the lungs, liver and kidneys, and to help with depression due to adrenergic exhaustion. In Russia, Schizandra is used to treat eye fatigue and increase acuity.
Schizandra should not be used during pregnancy and should be avoided by persons with peptic ulcers, epilepsy and high blood pressure.