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Schisandra

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The fruit of the schisandra plant can be made into medicine. It is a well-known herb in traditional Chinese medicine.

Schisandra may work in many ways. For example, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory traits.

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Why do people take schisandra?

People take schisandra to try to raise their:

  • Energy levels
  • Physical performance
  • Resistance to stress and disease

Concentration, coordination, and endurance do seem to improve when taking schisandra fruit extract.

Another use of schisandra is to attempt to protect the liver from poisons or to treat liver disease (hepatitis). Schisandra extract lowers levels of an enzyme that is a marker for liver damage. It appears to improve liver function in people with hepatitis.

More research is needed to confirm whether products combining schisandra with other herbs are safe and effective.

People also use schisandra to try to maintain normal blood sugar and blood pressure, speed recovery after surgery, prevent motion sickness or infection, or improve vision.

Other uses include trying to treat:

  • High cholesterol
  • Coughs
  • Asthma
  • Sleep problems
  • Nerve pain
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Night sweats or spontaneous sweating
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Excessive urination or thirst
  • Depression or irritability
  • Memory loss

There isn't enough information to know whether schisandra is effective for any of these problems.

Depending upon the condition, people take different dosages of schisandra. But optimal doses of schisandra have not been set for any condition.

Quality and active ingredients in supplements may vary widely. This makes it hard to set a standard dose.

Can you get schisandra naturally from foods?

Yes, people can eat the fruit of schisandra as food.

What are the risks of taking schisandra?

Side effects. Some people develop allergic skin reactions or gastrointestinal problems such as:

  • Less appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Heartburn
  • Acid indigestion

Risks. Avoid using schisandra while pregnant. That's because its fruit might stimulate the uterus. Also, don't use it while breastfeeding. There isn't enough evidence to know whether or not it is safe for you and your baby.

Avoid using schisandra if you have:

  • Epilepsy
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Peptic ulcers
  • High brain pressure

There is some concern that schisandra could worsen these conditions.

Interactions. There don't appear to be any interactions between schisandra and other herbs and supplements. However, be careful about combining it with warfarin or drugs that are changed and broken down by the liver.

The FDA does not regulate supplements. Be sure to tell your doctor about any you're taking, even if they're natural. That way, your doctor can check on any potential side effects or interactions with medications or foods. He or she can let you know if the supplement might raise your risks.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on January 10, 2013

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