Ingredient Spotlight - Schisandra Chinensis

Schisandra Chinensis, also known as schisandra berry due to the small fruits that it grows. The berries are described as having five tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, pungent, and sour so you may see it referred to as the five-flavor-fruit. 

Schisandra Chinensis is one of two key adaptogenic herbs in Adapt Relax. Adaptogenic herbs are a select group of herbs that have powerful properties to help our bodies cope with the stressors of modern life. There are only around nine thoroughly researched adaptogenic herbs - Panax Ginseng, American Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Eleuthro, Schisandra, Rhodiola, Shilajit, Rhaponticum and Cordyceps but other adaptogenic herbs have also been successfully used in traditional medicines for hundreds of years.

To be classifies as an adaptogenic herbs or adaptogens as they are also referred to, a herb must be:

  1. Nontoxic at normal doses and when taken for extended periods of time
  2. Supportive to the body’s ability to cope with stress.
  3. Help the body return to a state of homeostasis, that is it helps raise what is low and lower what is high (eg energy, stress)

The berries of Schisandra Chinensis are a source of nutrients and also contain various bioactive metabolites such as lignans, polysaccharides, essential oil, organic acids, and vitamins.

Lignans are the major bioactive components of plants which are ascribed a wide range of physiological functions, positively affecting human health. The ligans found in Schisandra Chinensis possess various pharmacological properties such as anticancer, anti-hepatocarcinogenesis, antioxidant, platelet activating factor antagonistic, central nervous system protecting, and anti-inflammatory activities [2]. 

The first studies on the stimulating and tonic effects of Schisandra chinensis were published in Soviet Union WWII military journals. The Russian interest in Schisandra Chinensis arose from ethnopharmacological investigations by Komarov (1895) and Arsenyev (1903–1907) in the Far East regions. It was discovered that the berries and seeds were used by Nanai (Goldes or Samagir) hunters as a tonic, to reduce thirst, hunger and exhaustion, and to improve night vision.

Since this time there have been numerous animal and human studies to understand the positive affect that Schisandra Chinensis and other adaptogens have. Chen et al. investigated the effect of Schisandra lignans on anxiety disorder in restraint-stressed mice using light–dark test. Giving the mice oral doses of Schisandra lignan extract effectively reversed the stress-induced anxiety level in the mice. [3]

Schisandra Chinensis has been observed to make alterations in the basal levels of nitric oxide and cortisol in blood and saliva with subsequent effects on the blood cells, vessels and CNS. [4]  This means that Schisandra Chinensis can help reduce excessive cortisol release that we experience in times of stress and return us to homeostasis faster through the regulation of the key mediators of our stress response. You can read a detailed explanation of the stress response with some great diagrams to illustrate how it works here - The Stress Response and Adaptogens.

Like all adaptogens, Schisandra Chinensis has the most effect when taken consistently over time. A bottle of Adapt Relax in the afternoon will not only give you a "better for you" alternative to drink at the end of your day, but over time it can help you adapt better to the stressors of daily life!

Photo: Custom Extracts 

1]. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity

[2]. An overview of neuroprotective and cognitive enhancement properties of lignans from Schisandra chinensis

[3]. Antidepressant-like effects and cognitive enhancement of Schisandra chinensis in chronic unpredictable mild stress mice and its related mechanism 

[4]. Pharmacology of Schisandra chinensis Bail.: an overview of Russian research and uses in medicine