One of my favourite berries in my herbal arsenal is Schizandra, which I first discovered as a student. Its Chinese name, Wu Wei Zi, translates to five-flavoured fruit and it’s an accurate description. Chewing the berries releases all five flavours at once – sour, bitter, sweet, spicy and salty – to give you a taste like nothing you’ve had before.
Incidentally, these five flavours also relate to the basics of Traditional Chinese Medicine theories. TCM focuses on flavours of herbs and berries to bring needed properties into our systems and Schizandra does it all; it tonifies all three treasures (Jing, Qi and Shen), enters all 12 meridians (main organs) and nurtures all five elements (earth, metal, water, wood and fire).
More specifically, Schizandra supports the adrenal glands and works to decrease cortisol. It has also been shown to:
- Improve mental function, physical endurance and speed
- Optimize metabolic functions
- Improve liver health
- Enhance the libido
- Alleviate insomnia, especially when the sleeplessness is from nervous exhaustion
- Prevent frequent urination, diarrhea and excessive sweating
- Soothe skin conditions due to allergies
I often use Schizandra in my herbal tinctures as an adaptogen, which helps increase the body’s ability to deal with anxiety, emotional trauma, resistance to environmental stress and toxins.
It can be used as a tincture, in an infusion, in capsules and as a dried berry to chew instead of gum, which is my personal favourite. Schizandra’s many health benefits make it a preferred herb to add to any formula for better health. Because of its astringent properties, it’s not recommended in pregnancy but can be useful in labour for stamina.
To take advantage of this unique berry, talk to your ND to see if it’s right for you.
Healing with Whole foods by Paul Pitchford
Herbal medicine by Sharol Tilgner