Schisandra is a powerful adaptogenic herb that has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine and is rapidly rising in popularity in the western world. Used in some of our own plant-based supplements because it is so effective, our expert nutritionists explain Schisandra, what it does and why it is so effective.
What is Schisandra?
Schisandra (also called Schisandra Chinesis), is a vine-like plant that produces purple-red berries. Although it isn’t generally consumed as a food, these berries are described as having 5 different tastes – sweet, bitter, sour, salty and pungent.
The berries contain lignans which is the active component, and is the reason Schisandra is taken as a supplement and herbal medicine. The lignans are categorised into Schisandrin's A, B & C, and are the bioactive compounds.
Benefits of Schisandra
Schisandra is an adaptogenic herb. This means it regulates pathways in the body and increases resistance to stress and may help to increase physical endurance and energy. Due to its adaptogenic properties, Schisandra is used for a wide range of reasons in supplements for menopause and supplements for stress and anxiety.
Women going into the menopause can present with many unpleasant symptoms (learn more in our expert nutritionists' article 12 most common symptoms of menopause).
Being an adaptogen, Schisandra helps to bring balance and may help to decrease night sweats, mood instability and memory loss associated with the drop in hormones that occur during menopause.
One study looked at the benefits of Schisandra on menopausal women between the ages of 40 and 70 years who had menopausal symptoms. The women were randomly assigned either Schisandra or a placebo for 6 weeks, and the study concluded that Schisandra was beneficial and effective for symptoms associated with the menopause including hot flushes, sweating and heart palpitations.
The adaptogenic effects of Schisandra have a positive influence on our body's stress response. The stress hormones are produced by two adrenal glands which sit on top of the kidneys, producing adrenaline and cortisol.
Both over functioning and under functioning glands can be problematic. Over functioning adrenal glands can cause a feeling of too much stress, inability to relax and trouble sleeping, and under functioning can cause a lack of energy, low moods and an inability to deal with stressful situations. Learn more on how adrenal glands affect stress and endurance.
Schisandra can help to regulate the response of the adrenal glands. One study concluded that Schisandra significantly prevented chronic unpredictable mild stress behavioural and biochemical alterations.
Reducing the level of stress helps many other functions in the body affected by stress such as mood, immunity and sleep.
You might enjoy our nutritionists blog: Foods and vitamins to help relieve anxiety.
Depression can be a debilitating and serious condition, so if you think you might be depressed, make sure you talk to your GP first and discus the options of trying Schisandra.
Due to the stress lowering properties of Schisandra, it may also have a positive benefit on mood. Although its antidepressant effect hasn’t been extensively studied in humans, it does appear to be therapeutic when tested in animal studies. Read our blog '5 foods to improve your mood'.
Why is Schisandra so popular?
Schisandra has become popular among perimenopausal women due to the level of research on it for menopause symptoms.
The symptoms of the menopause have only been a concern for women in the last couple of hundred years due to the increasing life expectancy of women. Medically, there are not many alternatives to HRT to support women during this life phase which is why herbs like Schisandra are so popular.
You may enjoy our blog: 8 unusual symptoms of menopause.
Schisandra is also popular for use for stress and regulation of the adrenal glands. Modern lifestyles are much more stressful than lifestyles 100 years ago. As the pace of life increases, many people need to seek help with stress and hectic lifestyles, leading them to adaptogenic herbs like Schisandra.
View our range of vegan adaptogens, probiotics, vitamins and minerals.
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