Materia Medica

Schisandra Berry

“Chinese mock barberry,” “five flavor berry,” “lemon wood,” “magnolia vine,”  “wu-wei-zi” (Chinese name)


Schisandra Chinensis

A special plant holding its place in many medicine cabinets for those looking to heal body and soul. Schisandra is an ancient herb in the Eastern world that is now spreading its roots to the West, gaining more recognition for its medicinal properties. This plant has a vivacious personality, very spicy, yet sweet, tangy, bitter, and salty, which gives it the common name “five flavor berry.” With all of its unfolding qualities this plant could truly help a lot of people, mentally and physically. Get to know it and explore its bountiful benefits below.


berry plant

A climbing woody vine apart of the magnolia family. Schisandra has bright green shiny leaves that are deciduous during dormancy. They produce male and female flowers on separate plants eventually forming small bright red berries hanging, grape like, from the vine. The flowers are small and delicate with four petals, they can be white or red depending on variety. From April to May the vine flowers and the berries are ready to harvest from August to October. Schisandra grows naturally in mixed forests, usually found near streams and brooks preferring sandy well drained soils and thriving in shade to semi-shade. If all growing requirements are met, Schisandra can reach a total growth height of 29ft.

History & Folklore:

Native to Northern China, Russia and parts of Korea. Schisandra is a staple in Asian culture. Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for more than 2,000 years, it was first recorded in the ancient Ben-Cao (Chinese herbal descriptions) of the emperor Shon-Nong which was a starting point for TCM. Although it is rarely found growing in the US it was originally introduced by Russia in the 1850’s. More commonly today, Schisandra can be found in many European gardens particularly for its ornamental beauty. In Chinese culture Schisandra is said to “calm the heart and quiet the spirit.”

Medicinal Uses:


Schisandra can be used in tinctures, capsule form, or whole berry. The potential recipes are endless. It’s easily disguised in berry juices, tea, or smoothies. Schisandra is classified as an Adaptogen, it is capable of increasing the body’s resistance to disease and stress. It makes a great co-partner for herbal remedies treating disease. It is also known to balance the body’s functions, improve mental function, increase stamina, and energizes RNA and DNA to rebuild new cells. Recently, it has also been discovered to help the heart during cancer chemotherapy. In Chinese herbalism it is mainly used to help with digestion, intestinal inflammation, urinary frequency, cough, chronic diarrhea, profuse sweating, and hepatitis. It’s most commonly used to treat liver disease because it stimulates the nervous system to maintain breathing and protects the liver from chemical damage. Schisandra works by helping to increase the liver’s ability to create an enzyme, Glutathione peroxidase, that offsets damage done to the liver from disease like hepatitis. Not only beneficial to the liver Schisandra is an all around herb that can help no matter how healthy you feel. If you have trouble sleeping, restless leg syndrome, stress, depression, fatigue, and excessive sweating, Schisandra can help. The active components work together to help relieve emotional and physical depression of the central nervous system. If you are looking for an overall boost you may think of trying it too.


Always check with a doctor or professional before taking any herbs.Schisandra should not be used by people with epilepsy, severe high blood pressure, or intracranial pressure. Some have reported, heartburn, peptic ulcer, depression, upset stomach. It is known to increase bile, if you have gallstones or blockages of bile ducts avoid using this herb. Since Schisandra stimulates and induces labor, it should be avoided when pregnant and when lactating.




Prescription for herbal healing, 2nd edition, Phillis A Blach, 2012

Prescription for natural cures revised edition, James F Blach, 2011


Found via Google images


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