From faraway China, a land renowned for herbal and alternative medicines, as well as natural, healthy foods, we hail the schisandra berry. Widely available in America in capsule, extract, or powdered form, schisandra has been used in China for centuries to treat a large number of ailments and provide healthful benefits to the lungs, blood, and kidneys. It has also been utilized as an antidepressant, an aphrodisiac, and as a means to increase stamina.
As it is one of the most important medicinal herbs in China, specialty markets and some asian groceries will sell packages of dried schisandra berries. The medicinal secrets of the tiny red berries are being continually studied, as the schisandra berry contains more than just a bouquet of sweet and sour flavors.
Vitamins A, C and E commune happily with compounds called lignans. The large amount of lignans found in schisandra berries are most beneficial in treating liver disease and strengthening the immune system. Lignans help enzymes in the liver produce large amounts of antioxidants. Some studies say that lignans can actually help the liver repair itself after suffering damage from either hepatitis or alcohol consumption.
Sold in health and nutrition stores for the purposes of health and personal care, schisandra berries also have an effect similar to ginseng, though not as strong, helping to reduce fatigue and increase body energy. Also useful for treating digestive and intestinal problems, it would seem as if the list of healthful properties contained within the schisandra berry reach far beyond simple liver and kidney repair.
Acting as a body cleanser, Chinese researchers are further studying the effects of schisandra berries on the human body, claiming that the berries can help detoxify the body, remove parasites, increase energy supply to vital organs, help strengthen the immune system, increase physical performance, and prevent side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, as well as possess anti-inflammatory
A recommended dosage of schisandra berries is 1.5g to 6g, taken daily. Your nutritionist or health food store should be able to discuss proper dosages of schisandra berries depending upon your condition, and in what form would be best suited for you.
For culinary purposes, schisandra berries can be used to make delicious and uniquely tasting jellies and jams, used in pies or as spreads. They are also used to make a fine tea.
If you are able to find dried berries, a simple recipe for schisandra berry tea would be to boil 2-4 tablespoons of the berries in 2 cups of water, and then simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes. Strain and add 3 cups of hot water and a sweetener such as honey or brown sugar, and the tea is ready to drink.