Adaptogenic herbs like Schisandra assists the body in adjusting to stress. Being widely used in China, this herb is also good in strengthening the immune system, boosting energy levels and maximizing performance. With the scientific name Schisandra chinensis from the Magnoliaceae family, this woody vine climber is a rare ornamental plant in the West because of its bright green leaves and its brilliant scarlet berries it produces during fall season. However, it is a popular medicinal herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM because of its properties as an anti-inflammatory herb and a powerful antioxidant.
In Chinese, schisandra is wu-wei-zi translated as five taste fruits because of its varied flavors which are sour, sweet, bitter, warm, and salty taste which is interpreted to have balanced virtue in TCM. Relying on the different flavors in the treatment of ailments and disorders, the different flavors in TCM corresponds to the following:
- Sour taste is usually used as an astringent or anything that involves drying
- Sweet is usually for alleviating pain.
- Bitter tasting herbs is to harden and dry tissue.
- Salty flavor is for softening hard lumps like cyst and tumors.
- Acrid(pungent or hot) taste is used for expelling cold.
Basically, Schisandra is used to treat coughs and colds because of its action in the respiratory and immune system. However it has also male tonic properties just like the ginseng herb,
Schisandra could be prepared in variety of ways including herbal decoctions, as extracts or as capsule. It could also be prepared as a fruit juice by soaking for one day half cup of dried Schisandra berries in one gallon of any dark fruit juice. Strain the berries and sweeten with sugar or honey plus garnish with lemon slices and it could be served hot or cold for a tasty and tonic juice drink.
Mix one part powdered Schisandra and 2 arts powdered poppy seeds and roll them in honey for a cough medicine. Take note that these poppy seeds are not the same as the opium poppy and they are a mild sedative but not addictive and are good for suppressing cough.
To make a tincture, an ounce of dried schisandra fruit must be combined with 9 oz 90 proof vodka in a clean glass jar and must be stored in a cool dark place for about 4-6 weeks shaking every now and then to remix the contents. After about a month or so, press the remaining liquid from the fruit and strain. Transfer into an amber glass dropper bottle. This tincture could be used as a mild sedative and to relieve stress, anxiety or just to generally calm the nerves with a starting dosage of about 10-20 drops three times a day.
To make it kid friendly, use one part the berries and soak it on 4 parts liquid vegetable glycerine instead. It is as potent as the tincture but has a sweet taste making it delicious for children.
Schisandra is known to be relatively safe except for some people who might have gastrointestinal upsets. As a precaution, ingest in small doses first to check out its effect.