If you’re not yet familiar with the incredible balancing, detoxifying, protecting, nourishing and strengthening qualities of Super Tonic herbs, please have a look at our Super Tonic Herbs 101, Intro.
Otherwise, let’s get started!
Schizandra berry, or ‘Wu Wei Zi’, (the Chinese Pin Yin name), comes from the plant Schisandra chinensis and has been called ‘The Herb that Does it All’. It is a Super Tonic herb of the highest order and it just so happens to be my absolute favorite!
Revered since as early as 2000 B.C. in ancient Chinese history as a quintessential herbal substance, Schizandra Berry has not only been used regularly by Chinese royalty, but has ranked highly in many herbal honors. Its primary uses have been focused around beauty and sex, pictured in ancient art as a symbol of longevity and immortality.
Schizandra, or “Five Taste Fruit,” embodies all five tastes, sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty, which accesses all five elements, 12 meridians, and tonifies all 3 treasures, Jing, Qi and Shen, and integrates with the human body with great harmony and balance. Maintaining intake of schizandra for prolonged amounts of time will help achieve and optimize homeostasis. It has been said that after taking schizandra daily for 100 days, profound shifts, both internally and externally, will take effect.
In addition to Tonic Herbalism and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Modern Western science has also confirmed the many adaptogenic and tonifying benefits of Schizandra. These include:
- Increased Mental Performance
- Detox, Healing and Regeneration of Liver
- Enhanced Athletic and Sexual Performance for Men and Women
- Beautiful Skin
- Improved Hearing and Vision
- Balanced and Protected Central Nervous, Endocrine, Immune, GI, Respiratory and Cardiovascular Systems
Schizandra is one of the primary herbs almost always used in Chinese mind tonic formulations, and is therefore no surprise that it’s in our Sleeping Monk Mind Sharpener! It has traditionally been used to treat mental and emotional illness, improve mental clarity, concentration, and coordination, reduce forgetfulness, irritability, nervous exhaustion, stress, depression, and anxiety.
Schizandra optimizes norepinephrine and dopamine levels, increasing the brain’s ability to maintain focus and concentration, which is especially helpful as we get tired.
We all know that when we’re tired, mistakes are bound to happen. These can sometimes have serious consequences. One of the amazing Adaptogenic properties of Schizandra works directly on the Central Nervous System to keep us calm, yet alert, in a non-stimulating or jittery way, like caffeine and other related stimulants do.
Schizandra was tested to see if it could reduce mistakes when people were tired or had been working for a long time. In two studies by Lapajev, Schizandra was shown to reduce mistakes in tired people. The studies also showed that Schizandra helps people to study effectively, even when tired. Since this is what most students do days before their exams, it’s easy to see how Schizandra can benefit them, as well as those preparing projects and presentations for work, etc…
Liver Health – Dual Phase Detoxification
For a substance to effectively cleanse the liver, two phases must be initiated and completed for the body to completely rid itself of any toxin or undesirable elements. These phases are simply known as Phase I and Phase II.
In Phase I, a detoxifying agent goes into the liver and binds with toxins, releasing them from the liver and taking them into the bloodstream. Almost always, this newly bound toxic bundle is more toxic than the original toxin. This increased toxicity is known as bioactivation. Old toxins in their new bioactivated form re-exposures the body to these old toxins, and they will end up back in the liver again, or stored in other tissues.
During phase II of detoxification, the bioactivated toxins, which may be highly active, are safely cleared out of the body. This, of course, is the part we all want to happen in quick and efficient order. If the phase II process is weak, faulty or absent, all we’ve done is re-poison ourselves.
Many substances can go into the liver and release old toxins into the bloodstream, but that is all they do, and as a result the person goes through an increased toxic period. The so-called cleansing, or ‘healing crisis’ experienced by many people who go through various types of cleanses, is largely the result of bioactivated toxins wreaking havoc in the body. It is therefore very important that agents which boost Phase I activity also have significant effects on enhancing the Phase II clearance of the reactive intermediate.
Schizandra is very effective in boosting both Phase I detoxification and Phase II clearance of activated toxins.
Enhanced Athletic and Sexual Performance
Schizandra enhances sex drive in both men and women. For men, it supports the production of semen and is famous for its ability to relieve sexual fatigue, as well as for increasing sexual staying-power, due to its astringent properties.
Women benefit also, as Schizandra is said to increase circulation and sensitivity in the female genitals. Many women claim increased genital warmth and sensation after using Schizandra for a period of time. It has been said to be a powerful aphrodisiac and can be very complimentary to intimate relationships.
In terms of athletics, Schizandra increases physical endurance by exciting the adrenergic (adrenaline) system, which leads to deeper breathing with an increase in both the consumption of oxygen and the production of carbon dioxide.
Further pharmacological studies have also shown that Schizandra increases physical endurance and affords a stress-protective effect against a broad spectrum of harmful factors including heat shock, skin burn, cooling, frostbite and immobilization.
It is said that after consuming schizandra for 100 days, that our skin completely changes. It becomes soft, smooth and elastic. schizandra causes the skin to become naturally moist and produces substances that protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. schizandra is one of China’s premier anti-aging herbs.
As mentioned above, Schizandra is also a fantastic liver detoxifier, which also contributes to the alleviation of many other skin challenges, as the liver is one of the primary organs that contribute to our skin health by filtering and purifying our blood.
Improved Hearing and Vision
Human studies have also shown that Schizandra can support vision, even enlarging the field of vision, and can support hearing. It also supports the discrimination ability of the skin receptors. It has been determined that this sensitivity-support is due to enhanced function of the Central Nervous System’s ability to analyze data flowing to it from the peripheral sensors.
Balanced and Protected Systems
Because Schizandra enters all 12 energy meridians, it benefits a significant percentage of our organs and systems. And due to its extremely powerful Adaptogenic and Tonic properties, it cannot be overemphasized just how well this herb contributes to our optimal homeostasis of body, mind and spirit.
For example, Schizandra modulates the Central Nervous System, resulting in accurate and optimal balancing between the excitatory and inhibitory control functions of the cerebral cortex. As noted in the Mental Performance section, this allows for increased alertness without a stimulant effect- a wakeful focus. While also known to have a calming effect, we are able to experience best of both worlds!
Schizandra’s Adaptogenic properties also regulate and optimize the production of hormones by the Endocrine System and work to protect the Immune System and Adrenals from stress.
Schizandra also regulates our GI tract. Too much stomach acid or too little are both bad conditions, and can cause problems if they are not remedied. Schizandra was shown to reduce excessive acid, and to increase acid when there wasn’t enough. As an adaptogen, Schizandra works to maintain a healthy balance in the Gastrointestinal System.
But the miraculous benefits of this tasty fruit don’t stop there. Schizandra also balances and strengthens both our Respiratory and Cardiovascular Systems.
The cardiovascular system is essential to the continued functioning of the organs in the body. Therefore, any problem with the cardiovascular system can affect organs all over the body, causing a variety of problems to arise.
Schizandra has the potential to boost your cardiovascular system in several ways. It is very beneficial to your lungs and will greatly enhance pulmonary circulation.
Not only does schizandra help with good, purified blood flow, but will help your body maintain healthy levels of blood sugar and blood pressure, as well as lower your cholesterol. It has been used to ease coughing and increase energy and endurance, making it quite the powerful supplement for people with upper respiratory issues, such as asthma.
My Personal Experience with Schizandra
I was first introduced to the amazing power of the Chinese Super Tonic herbs in 2003, at my all-time low, when I was rendered raw, burnt-out, depleted, heartbroken and spiritually scorched. More details on this – and how Sleeping Monk came to life can be found here.
Anyway, as I dove deeper into my experience with these Super Tonic herbs, I fell in love with Schizandra and have been using it regularly since.
I have definitely noticed that Schizandra has had a major role in nourishing and protecting my adrenals from stress. I am generally much more calm, yet focused. This has shown up with my ability to stay on task with work, and with writing music.
With all the drugs I’d used for decades, (I’m now 12.5 years clean and sober), my liver and kidneys took a proper beating. In Chinese Tonic Herbalism philosophy, this was severely depleting to my ‘Jing’, or core energy store, which is housed in the kidneys. Since the kidneys are responsible for both reproductive health, as well as athletic performance, I needed a resurgence there, to say the least.
I truly feel that Schizandra has helped me back to the youthful vigor I once had many years ago. At 46, I just ran my first marathon last month in 4:07:13, (I’m not a runner), and feel like I’m in the best shape of my life since high school in the areas of both athletics and intimacy.
I use the Sleeping Monk Immortal formula nearly every day. It has copious amounts of Organic Schizandra, along with the other Super Tonic herbs. I’ve listed all the science and history above, but there’s just this feeling I have when I take it that I’m protected and that I’m doing something really good for me that I believe in and trust.
Experience has given me that trust.