This super-berry is known in holistic circles as the “herb that does it all”! Not only does it balance your hormones and protect your adrenals, it also lowers inflammation, keeps your liver healthy, and more!
I’m trying to get creative with ingredients/herbs/berries/fruits that I can add to my smoothies and tonics, and there are so many wonderful options out there, that I can create an entire directory of all things botanical (which is my goal)! So next up on our list of super foods to note is Schisandra.
Schisandra is a berry that comes from a climbing vine and is native to East Asia. Considered an “adaptogen” herb, it has been used widely to help our bodies deal with stress in the form of toxins, environmental stress, and more. The dried berry is most often used medicinally, while the fresh berry is used in foods and healthy juices or tonics. Practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine refer to schisandra as a “five flavor fruit” because of its basic flavors: bitter yet spicy, salty, yet sweet and sour. Sound familiar? (hint: triphala.)
Schisandra is a Chinese herb that’s been studied extensively and passed down from generation to generation due to its continued success. Yet, limited research has been done here in the states. What we do know is that schisandra contains antioxidants and, interestingly, research showed that the berries “without seeds” had a different chemical composition and higher concentration of antioxidants than schisandra seeds. Either way, antioxidants were plentiful in both. The role that antioxidants play in keeping the body free of disease and illness can’t be underestimated. If you’re a regular reader of Balanced Babe then you know most of the foods I talk about boast antioxidants!
What interests me the most is that schisandra acts as a balancing aid for our hormones and adrenals (helping us fight off the affects of stress). So take a peak at what our research team found!
Benefits of Schisandra:
- Is our adrenal’s best friend: Stress can really do a number on our body’s immune system, our hormones, and can really take a toll on our adrenals. The role of our adrenal glands is to help our body fight off and deal with stress, no matter the situation. From a spat with your significant other, to physically injuring yourself. Your adrenals signal your body to deal with stressful situations, so it’s imperative that you keep them healthy! Some studies have shown that schisandra can balance your hormones and protect your adrenals by helping to keep the harmful production of “cortisol” (stress hormone) at a low level.
- Acts as a lung tonic: A 2014 study showed that herbs like schisandra may help aid or treat asthma. In Chinese medicine schisandra berry tea is consumed to help treat cough, chest congestion or even upper respiratory infections. It’s also noted that it may be a good tea to consume if you are a current smoker or recently quit, to help assist with the healing of your lungs.
- Lowers Inflammation: Our bodies need a certain amount of inflammation to help ward off infection or heal from an injury but chronic inflammation is a problem. Any holistic remedy, such as schisandra, that has a good concentration of antioxidants can help repair injured tissue, protect against infections and guard against chronic inflammation by helping fight free radical damage.
- Promotes Mental Health and Clarity: Schisandra is considered a nervous system stimulant, but surprisingly it has also been used as a sedative for insomnia. Practitioners have used this herb to improve memory and concentration while making you more calm. More importantly, with its concentration of antioxidants, it contributes to slowing down the aging process and promoting mental health by helping fight free radical damage and keeping the brain cells from being depleted of the oxygen needed to function. Be Brain Fit put it this way: “If you have wrinkles, age spots, or sun damage on your skin, you have free radical damage you can see. And while you can’t see oxidative damage in your brain, you can experience its effects.”
- Protects and Improves Liver Function: It’s believed that the immune boosting abilities of schisandra help protect and improve liver function. Practitioners believe that schisandra helps boost the body’s production of enzymes that help detox the liver. Detoxing helps rid the body of toxins and excess waste and helps the liver function as it was made to function. Through research, this ability to keep the liver healthy and improve the body’s ability to handle stress can aid in a stronger immune system which boosts digestive health and yea, a healthy gut!
How To Use Schisandra:
You can purchase supplements (tablets or capsules) liquid extracts, powdered forms, or organic dried berries. Opt for the best you can find, free of additives, online or at your local health food store. You can also purchase or make your own schisandra tea ( try adding your favorite spice like turmeric or cinnamon.)
- Mix dried schisandra and water to create a tincture: Tinctures are great to take if you want a concentrated herb or fruit in a small dosage! You can find already existing brands of schisandra tinctures (you could take up to 30 drops a day), or you can create your own using a 1:6 ratio of water to schisandra extract.
- Making schisandra teas or tonic : You can also look for and enjoy schisandra tea, or you can find food grade dried schisandra to steep in hot water yourself. You can also create tonics using additional herbs like turmeric, cinnamon or ginger. It’s been noted in Chinese medicine that the tea is also enjoyed to promote radiant skin (because of all of the anti-inflammatory benefits).
- Can be added to your smoothies (and even desserts): You can add liquid schisandra extract or powdered schisandra to your customized smoothies, juices, and even in your desserts! I haven’t tried it yet, but I bet it would be a nice addition to a basic dairy-free banana ice cream. Yum!
DISCLAIMER: This post is provided for educational purposes only, is the opinion of BalancedBabe and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
To assist with asthma: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25289045
Photo Sources: Pond5