The fruit of the schisandra plant can be made into medicine. It is a well-known herb in traditional Chinese medicine as well as in traditional Russian medicine. There, it was described as a tonic, reducing hunger, fatigue, delaying the aging process, increasing vitality, and improving mental health
Schisandra may work in many ways. For example, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory traits.
Why do people take schisandra?
People take schisandra to try to raise their:
- Energy levels
- Physical performance
- Resistance to stress and disease
They may also take it to treat:
Some people take it to help reduce their sweating.
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 containing schisandra or 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. But there is only anecdotal evidence that this truly works.
Other uses include trying to treat:
- High cholesterol
- 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, but the effects may not match what has been shown for specialized extracts.
What are the risks of taking schisandra?
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:
There is some concern that schisandra could worsen these conditions.
Interactions. There don't appear to be any adverse interactions between schisandra and other herbs and supplements. However, schisandra can reduce the effectiveness of some medications and can increase their side effects. Be especially careful about combining it with warfarin or drugs that are changed and broken down by the liver. Schisandra may also increase blood levels of tacrolimus, an immunosuppressant, in liver transplant patients.
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. They can let you know if the supplement might raise your risks.