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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Schisandra is Wuweizi a.k.a. Five Flavored Seed

The dried ripe fruit of Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill. and other Schisandra spp. (Family Schisandraceae) are prized for their properties including lung astringent, kidney tonic, male tonic, adaptogenic, detoxicant, antimutagenic, antioxidant, liver protectant, central stimulant, and tranquilizing.

Schisandra berries have been traditionally used for cough, asthma, involuntary seminal discharge, impotence, insomnia, neurasthenia, chronic diarrhea, night sweat, spontaneous sweating, physical exhaustion, and excessive urination. More modern and recent uses include use as a treatment for liver diseases.

Schisandra is known as wuweizi (five-flavored seed) in Chinese because it tastes simultaneously sweet, sour, bitter, salty and pungent when chewed. In addition to its use as a medicine, it is also used as an ingredient in soup mixes.

Schisandra is one of those Chinese herbs without much adequate published English information even though there are many published reports on it in Chinese and Japanese.

It is a well-known tonic, especially for the male. Modern laboratory studies have found some of its constituents (e.g., lignans) to have strong antioxidant and liver-protectant properties. Its extracts and lignans are now being used to effectively treat liver diseases (e.g., viral hepatitis). In the West, silymarin (from milk thistle) is well known for its beneficial effects on the liver. One can soon add schisandra as its equal or superior.

A typical tonic like ginseng, schisandra's actions in the body are subtle. They cannot be readily duplicated in the laboratory. The antioxidant and liver protectant effects of schisandra just mentioned only give you an isolated glimpse of its various pharmacological effects. Believe me, there are too many to list here!

Dr. Albert Leung’s book, Better Health with (mostly) Chinese Herbs and Food discusses the use of 60 different herbs as healing foods, including schisandra on page 83. For more information about Dr. Leung and his writings, visit www.earthpower.com.

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