Medicinal plants

Schisandra (split basket)

Schisandra (split basket)


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With us, the red berries of the split basket (Schisandra) are still completely new. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), on the other hand, has been using Schisandra berries for thousands of years to treat various diseases, including severe organ infections such as hepatitis.

Epithets like “The Fruit of the Five Medicinal Effects” go back on the one hand to the rather unusual taste of the berry, which is characterized by five different aroma components. On the other hand, the Schisandra berry can actually be attributed to five different areas of action, which makes the fruit particularly interesting from a medicinal point of view. But which ingredients give the split basket its aroma-laden healing potential and how exactly can the berries be used? You can find answers to this in our article on the topic below.

Fact sheet for the split basket

  • Scientific name: Schisandra
  • Popular names: China berry, Wu Wei Zi, fruit of five flavors
  • Origin: Asia
  • Plant parts used: Berries
  • Application areas: Organ inflammation, immune deficiencies, cardiovascular weaknesses, nerve weaknesses, hormone disorders

Plant portrait: a legacy of the Red Emperor

The split basket is a climbing plant from the star anise family (Schisandraceae) that grows up to nine meters tall and is mainly distributed in China. Here the Schisandra was first mentioned medically and was described early on as the legacy of the legendary Red Emperor Shennong.

In China, Master Shennong is not only considered the first emperor of all later imperial dynasties, but also the first medicinal herb specialist determined by the gods, which is why he is traditionally known as the “divine farmer”. This mystical figure is of particular importance for traditional Chinese medicine, as Shennong is said to have described and researched numerous medicinal plants that are still used in TCM for the first time. The Schisandra berry is one of these medicinal herbs.

Master Shennong is said to have used the Schisandra berry as early as 2600 BC. BC in his famous medicinal herb compendium "Classic work of roots and herbs according to Shennong" (神农 本草 经) mentioned in writing. According to tradition, the three-part book volume is the oldest scripture of traditional Chinese medicine and thus like a Bible for TCM doctors and specialists in Asian medicine. While historians are not entirely sure whether this book was actually and exclusively written by Shennong, there can be no doubt as to the veracity of the statements made therein. For example, in the herb book mentioned, the berry is called

  • energizing,
  • life extending
  • and rejuvenating

described what captures the healing effects of the split basket quite well. Chinese medicine also gave the berry the name Wu Wei Zi (五味子) over time, which means "fruit of the five flavors". This refers to the diverse flavors of the Schisandra berry, because while the skin and flesh of the berry taste sweet and sour, their seeds have a pungent, bitter and salty aroma.

With this versatile variety of flavors, the split basket is also unique. There is no other berry besides her that covers the entire range of flavors.

Of the 25 to 30 different types of Schisandra, medicinal use is primarily made of the “Chinese split basket” (Schisandra chinensis). In China, each of the five aromas of this split basket is believed to have a very special energetic healing effect. Interestingly, the main areas of application in this regard can actually be divided into five main categories, namely:

  1. Organic inflammation:
    especially Inflammation of the liver, cystitis and inflammation of the kidneys.
  2. Immunological disorders:
    e.g. due to infectious diseases, stress or congenital immune deficiencies.
  3. Neural disorders:
    e.g. Weak memory, nervousness, insomnia or restlessness.
  4. Cardiovascular complaints:
    e.g. Heart failure, irregular heartbeat or burnout.
  5. Hormonal complaints:
    e.g. Libido disorders, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms or infertility.

Because of this classifiable division, the fruit of the five flavors is also known alternatively under the name "fruit of the five energies" or "fruit of the five elements". In line with the main areas of application, the Schisandra berry should primarily address energy deficits in (genital) organs and in the immune, nervous and cardiovascular system. This targeted effect on the systemic functions of the body should also result in a holistic health effect with life-prolonging potential.

Ingredients and effects

Because of its red color, the Schisandra berry is often mistaken for the Goji berry, which also comes from China. However, the two "China berries" differ significantly in terms of ingredients, whereby those of the Schisandra have a much more intensive effect. In addition to various nutrients that our bodies need every day, the split basket also contains rare plant hormones and a number of healthy fatty acids and lipids. In detail, the following ingredients can be named as particularly relevant for the health effects of the Schisandra berry:

  • Lignans,
  • Minerals,
  • Phytosterols,
  • Proteins,
  • unsaturated fatty acids
  • and vitamins.

Lignans are primarily responsible for the quintuple effect

According to the current state of research, the lignans of the Schisandra berry can be said to be primarily responsible for the five-fold effect of the healing fruit. Lignans belong to the group of so-called plant hormones (phytohormones). The term describes herbal ingredients that have a hormone-like effect in the human body, and sometimes in very different ways. Depending on which lignan it is, you can in this regard

  • antioxidant,
  • disinfectant,
  • anti-inflammatory,
  • immune boosting,
  • soothing,
  • sleep-promoting and calming,
  • potency and fertility enhancing
  • as well as soothing effects for menstrual cramps

be held. An extremely extensive spectrum of effects, which can be used very variably for health complaints. However, since each lignan works very individually, one would normally have to take special preparations to achieve a combination effect.

The fruit of the five flavors is not only very aromatic here. The lignans contained in it, which make up about 19 percent of the active ingredient content, cover pretty much each of the above-mentioned modes of action of plant hormones. In total there are over 35 different Lingnan species that come into play in the Schisandra berry. The most important are:

  • Gomisine,
  • Schisandrine,
  • Schisandrole,
  • Schisantherine
  • and neo-shandrin.

It is striking that the name of many lignans in the Schisandra berry is borrowed from their scientific technical name. The reason for this is simply that the said lignan species can only be found in the berries of the Schisandra and were therefore first discovered in the fruit. The most important health complaints that can be treated by taking the lignans include:

  • Immunodeficiency,
  • Poor circulation,
  • Nerve weakness,
  • inflammatory organ weakness
  • and hormonal disorders.

Minerals and trace elements

Furthermore, there are many essential minerals and trace elements in the Schisandra, which also contribute to the health benefits of the berry. The following are particularly worth mentioning:

  • Cobalt,
  • Iron,
  • Iodine,
  • Calcium,
  • Potassium,
  • Magnesium,
  • Sodium,
  • Phosphorus,
  • selenium
  • and zinc.

Trace elements such as selenium can often only be found very sparingly in food, which is why the split basket is also a valuable source of nutrients in this regard. Selenium acts in the body as an antioxidant that traps free radicals and thus supports heart and vascular health. And an extra portion of selenium is also good for the immune system, since free radicals, in addition to the heart and blood vessels, also severely damage the body's defenses. If their presence in the body is reduced, the immune system has more energy left to devote itself to the actual defense against pathogens.

The minerals iron, potassium and magnesium are also important for the heart and blood circulation. If there is a deficiency, cardiac arrhythmias and heart failure can occur very quickly. Two complaints against which Schisandra is only too happy to be used. The minerals contained in the berry are also good for the nerves by improving the signal transmission of the nerve fibers and thus optimizing their functionality.

Phytosterols

The phytosterols (also called phytosterols) contained in Schisandra berries are mentioned again and again as an important secondary component of the healing ingredients. Behind it are vegetable substances that have an extremely interesting effect on the blood vessels and the digestive tract. Because of their special property of binding cholesterol and being easy to digest, these plant sterols can be successful

  • Relieve liver and bile,
  • stimulate digestion,
  • lower blood cholesterol
  • and prevent arteriosclerosis and fatty liver.

Phytosterols are membrane lipids that inhibit cholesterol absorption in the intestine, which on the one hand lowers the cholesterol level in the blood and on the other hand relieves fat digestion. This is particularly beneficial for the liver, which is the most important organ unit for the decomposition of food fats. They also seem to stimulate overall digestion and thus improve metabolism. Furthermore, phytosterols are known to minimize existing urinary discomfort in men by slightly enlarging the prostate.

Proteins

Together with minerals, proteins, which are also very abundant in the fruit of the five energies with up to 13 percent, form the energy suppliers par excellence. This further increases the vitalizing effect of the split basket on the metabolism. Proteins are also essential for the functionality of the immune system, since immune defense cells are all made of protein. The same applies to the white blood cells, which also include the immune cells.

Unsaturated fatty acids

Phytosterols are particularly concentrated in plants and fruits with a high fat content. In the Schisandra berry, these are predominantly unsaturated fatty acids, which are commonly referred to as the "healthy" fats. With a share of about 33 percent, they frolic mainly in the hot and bitter kernels and are mainly used by

  • Linoleic acid,
  • Linolenic acid
  • and oleic acid

posed. In addition to the energy-giving properties of unsaturated fatty acids, it is particularly important to emphasize theirs

  • anti-inflammatory,
  • heart strengthening,
  • vascular protective,
  • blood purifying
  • and purifying

Effect. Because of them, the fatty acids are used, among other things, for the treatment or prevention of

  • Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries),
  • High blood pressure,
  • Coronary artery disease,
  • Skin inflammation,
  • Skin irritation,
  • and skin damage

used. Linoleic acid in particular works extremely well against skin irritation and is therefore used as standard for the therapy of severe skin diseases such as dermatitis. Various skin creams have been taking advantage of the good skin protection of unsaturated fatty acids for decades.

Vitamins

Also striking about the Schisandra are its numerous vitamins

  • Provitamin A,
  • Vitamin B,
  • vitamin C
  • and vitamin E

are very generously represented in the red berry. Although vitamins do not provide the body with energy, their metabolism is urgently needed to keep organ and system functions running. In addition, vitamins B, C and E are considered an important component of so-called nerve nutrition. The vitamins, like some of the minerals already mentioned, improve nerve function and can thus protect against nerve problems.

Application and dosage

The concentration of ingredients already suggests that the Schisandra berry is not an ordinary berry. Accordingly, it cannot be mixed at will like other berries in fruit desserts or smoothies. Because some of the ingredients can easily cause undesirable side effects when overdosed.

Danger: As a rule of thumb, according to traditional use, one Schisandra berry per kilogram of body weight with a daily dose of 15 grams maximum.

This means that it is better not to prepare complete desserts with the split basket, but to use them for garnishing or as a low-dose secondary ingredient. It is even better to use as a tea herb, because it is much easier to dose the dried Schisandra berry here. Alternatively, there are capsules made from the powder of the ground Schisandra berry.

Schisandra berries as tea herbs

A tea made from dried Schisandra berries or ground Schisandra powder is the simplest form of application and actually helps with all internal complaints. Again, the recommended daily dose should be mentioned, whereby we suggest the following procedure for a tea infusion:

  • Put a level teaspoon of Schisandra (about 3.5 grams) in a cup of boiling water.
  • Let the brew steep for ten minutes.
  • Then filter the tea through a sieve.
  • Such tea can be enjoyed twice a day.

Schisandra capsules for targeted strengthening

If you suffer from a one-time energy deficit or simply want to make it easier to use the Schisandra, you can also take capsules made from ground powder or extract of the China berry. Here, however, we refer to the individual manufacturer's information on dosing, because the active ingredients are not dosed equally high in every preparation. However, adults are generally advised to take the following dosage:

  • Two capsules of Schisandra once a day,
  • take them after meals
  • and drink plenty of water.

Side effects and contraindications

Too much schisandra reduces their healing effects. Rather, the high-dose combination of plant hormones unbalances the hormonal balance and metabolism, which can have adverse effects. It is therefore important to dose the fruit of the five energies in a moderate manner.

The strong acidity of the Schisandra can lead to acid regurgitation when overdosed. Diarrhea is also known as a side effect of an overdose of split cups.

Study results on the Schisandra berry

At least four of the “five energies” of the Schisandra berry have now been scientifically proven. So far, the effects of hormone-related infertility have not been sufficiently researched, but there is a study by Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea that shows the positive effect of Schisandra chinensis in menopause-related symptoms. From 2014 to 2015, it was found in various subjects between the ages of 40 and 70 who were treated with the China berry for one year for study purposes.

A study by the Chinese Beihua University is worth mentioning in terms of soothing effects on organ inflammation. Here, the researchers extracted certain polysaccharides (multiple sugars) from the lignans of the Schisandra and administered them to a mouse suffering from hepatitis. With success, because the liver values ​​of the mouse could be returned to the normal range at a rate of up to 28 percent.

Scientists from Korea have confirmed that Schisandra berries actually have a strengthening effect on the immune system. They isolated an anti-allergic substance from the red berry, which they even recommended in their study conclusion for the treatment of asthma.

The protective function of the Schisandra against cardiovascular diseases is also not a myth, as another Korean study shows. Only the effect of the China berry on nerve complaints has not been scientifically proven so far, but only through positive patient experiences.

Conclusion

The surname of Schisandra "fruit of the five energies" is no coincidence. In fact, the red berry appears to have beneficial effects in exactly five health areas

  • Organ inflammation,
  • Immunodeficiency,
  • Cardiovascular complaints,
  • Nerve weaknesses
  • and hormonal disorders

include. However, the Schisandra berry should not be processed undosed like other fruits. Because only if the dosage is correct, the split basket unfolds its healing effect without causing undesirable side effects. (ma)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Miriam Adam, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch

Swell:

  • Sharamon, Shalila and Baginski, Bodo J .: The Schisandra berry. Wu Wei Zi. The fruit of the five elements. The health berry for youthful vitality and well-being, Windpferd Verlag, 2011
  • Park, J.Y. and Kim K.H .: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Schisandra chinensis for menopausal symptoms, in: Climacteric, Volume 19, Issue 6, 2016, 574-580, PubMed
  • Wang, Chun-Mei; Yuan, Rong-Shuang; Zhuang, Wen-Yue et al .: Schisandra polysaccharide inhibits hepatic lipid accumulation by downregulating expression of SREBPs in NAFLD mice, in: Lipids in Health and Disease, 15, Article number: 195 (2016), BMC
  • Lee, Kyoung-Pil; Kang, Saeromi; Park, Soo-Jin et al .: Anti-allergic effect of α-cubebenoate isolated from Schisandra chinensis using in vivo and in vitro experiments, in: Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 173, Pages 361-369, September 15, 2015, ScienceDirect
  • Chun, Jung Nyeo; Choc, Minsoo; So, Insuk; Jeon, Ju-Hong: The protective effects of Schisandra chinensis fruit extract and its lignans against cardiovascular disease: A review of the molecular mechanisms, in: Fitoterapia, Volume 97, Pages 224-233, September 2014, ScienceDirect


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