| Schisandra chinensis|
Schisandra chinensis (五味子 in Chinese, pinyin: wǔ wèi zi, literally "five flavor berry") is a deciduous woody vine hardy to USDA Zone 4 and is dioecious, meaning individual plants are either male or female, thus both male and female plants must be grown if seeds are desired. It is very tolerant to shade. Its Chinese name comes from the fact that its berries possess all five basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, pungent (spicy), and bitter.
Its berries are used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs. They are most often used in dried form, and boiled to make a tea. Medicinally it is used as a tonic and restorative adaptogen with notable clinically documented liver protecting effects. The primary hepatoprotective (liver protecting) and immuno-modulating constituents are the lignans schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, gomisins, and pregomisin, which are found in the seeds of the fruit. It should not be used by pregnant women.
Use in traditional Chinese medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, Schisandra chinensis (known as wu wei zi) is believed to:
- Astringe Lung Qi and nourish the Kidneys
- Restrain the essence and stop Diarrhea--astringe Kidneys
- Arrest excessive sweating from Yin or Yang deficiency
- Calm the Spirit by tonification of Heart and Kidney
- Generate body fluids and alleviate thirst
Wu wei zi is believed to enter the Lung, Heart and Kidney meridians and its properties are considered to be sour and warm. The typical dose is between 1.5 and 9 grams.
Contraindications include: Internal Excess Heat with External Syndrome, early stage Cough, Rash, Rubella, or Peptic Ulcer, Epileptic Seizure, Hypertension, and Intercranial Pressure.
- Winston, David, and Steven Maimes (2007). ADAPTOGENS: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Healing Arts Press. (Contains a detailed monograph on S. chinensis as well as a discussion of health benefits.)