Schisandra chinensis

A deciduous vine with elliptical to obovate serrated dark-green shiny leaves growing to 10m (33ft) in height. Small clusters of flowers are followed by berries pink through to red in colour.

Family: Schisandraceae

Which probiotic is it in?: Schisandra is a key herb in Bio-Live Women.

Habit and cultivation: Grows best in shady, well-drained soil. Native to Northern China, Schisandra has similar growing requirements to grapes. Grown from seed or using semi-ripe cuttings.

Actions (known for): Adaptogen, anti-tussive, hepatoprotective, hepatotonic, nervine tonic, partus praeparator, renal tonic and uterine tonic.


The berries possess all five basic flavours (sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter) and its Chinese name translates as ‘northern five-flavor berry’. These flavours in turn correspond to the elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Its use has been recorded in every classic Chinese text. First listed as a superior herb in the 1st century BC. The Russians have long recorded its use as an adaptogen.

Parts used:


Constituents (bio available chemicals):

Essential oils, numerous acids and lignans including schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, gomisins and pregomisin.

Nutritional constituents:

Vitamins: C and E.


Liver damage, liver disease, liver insufficiency, liver toxicity, poor memory and concentration and nervous system disorders.


Liquid extract (1:2): 25 – 60ml per week. Infusion: 1.5 – 15g daily.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia

Cautions for therapeutic doses

Avoid during pregnancy. Uncommon side effects include: stomach upset, skin rash.

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