A Potent Berry for Liver Health: Schisandra chinensis

With its sweet, sour, salty, pungent, and bitter flavor profile, it’s no surprise the Chinese call Schisandra chinensis “the five flavored fruit,” or wu wei zi. Regarded as the most important herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the schisandra berry might more aptly be called the “fruit of life.”

Schisandra belongs to a unique class of herbs known as adaptogens, which enhance the body’s ability to adapt to, and recover from, stress. The source of the stress could be emotional, mental, environmental, or physical, such as when you become sick. In addition to supporting the body across physiological systems, it provides protective benefits for the liver, the body’s engine for detoxification. Studies show schisandra reduces inflammation, keeps hormones in balance, helps regenerate liver tissue, and lowers levels of an enzyme associated with liver damage.

Traditional Chinese physicians have long used schisandra to:

  1. stimulate the immune system and support adrenal gland function
  2. enhance recovery from illness or surgery
  3. reduce inflammation and fatigue
  4. improve blood circulation and enhance detoxification

Dried schizandra berries can be made into powder, capsule, tincture, tonic, tea and even wine. Schisandra is safe for most people, but precautions must be used if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have epilepsy, or reflux disease. Your holistic practitioner can identify the type of schisandra supplement that is best for you.


  • Mars, Bridgitte & Fiedler, Chrystle. Home Reference Guide to Holistic Health & Healing. (Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press. 2015.).
  • PinnacleHealth Patient Portal. “Schisandra chinensis; Schisandra spenanthera.” Accessed on 28 Sep. 2017. http://www.pinnaclehealth.org/wellness-library/blog-and-staywell/health-resources/article/39879
  • Johnson, R.L., S. Foster, Low Dog, T. and Kiefer, D. “Milk Thistle” in National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2012. p. 167-169.
  • Examine.com “Schisandra chinensis” Accessed 28 Sep 2017: https://examine.com/supplements/schisandra-chinensis/
  • Link to Clinical Citations for the above monograph: https://examine.com/supplements/schisandra-chinensis/#citations
  • MedicineHunter.com “Schisandra: Ultimate Superberry.” http://www.medicinehunter.com/schisandra
  • Chang, J. and Xie, J. [Total synthesis of schizandrin, the main active ingredient isolated from the Chinese herbal medicine fructus schizandrae]. Yao Xue.Xue.Bao. 1998;33(6):424-428. View abstract.
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