WHAT IS "SCHISANDRA"?

Schisandra chinensis is a magnolia vine reaching up to 8 m in height, it has aromatic pink flowers and small red berries. Schisandra chinensis is an indigenous plant in northeast of China, southeast of Russia and in Korea.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Schisandra chinensis is known under the name “Wu Wei Zi” for more than 1000 years. “Wu Wei Zi” translates to “5 flavor fruit“ (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and spicy). Due to its characteristic bitter-spicy after-taste it is easy to identify. Other names are “Omiza” in Korea, or “Limonnik” in Russia.

Schisandra chinensis belongs to the 50 officially listed medicinal plants in the Traditional Chinese Medicine. It strengthens the „Chi” (universal life energy), increases motivation, mental and physical performance and supports emotional balance (harmony).

HEALTH EFFECTS OF SCHISANDRA CHINENSIS

In the leaves, seed and especially fruits of Schisandra chinensis numerous physiologically active compounds have been identified. The fruits (berries) for example contain next to essential oils and phytosterols over 30 different lignans (“Gromisin”- and especially “Schisandrins” type). Numerous health effects originating from these lignans have been reported in the past (1):

  • Hepatic protection (liver and kidney detoxification)
  • Adaptogenic properties (more physical and mental strength, endurance and coordination (anti stress), increases working and learning capacity.
  • Better concentration, attention and more robust nerve system (anti-stress).
  • Increases internal harmony and emotional balance (anti-stress).
  • Improves mental performance and reduces memory loss (anti-aging).
  • Reduces symptoms of depression.
  • Cleans blood vessels and reduces oxidative cell damage (anti-aging)
  • Strong anti-inflammatory properties, effective COX-2 blocker (anti-inflammation)
  • Anti-proliferative effect (stops or reduces growth of certain human cancer cells)

In Russia Schisandra chinensis and its extracts are listed already since 1960 as pharmacological active compounds in the Russian Pharmacopeaia and in the official State Register of Drugs. Over the last 50 years numerous Russian clinical studies confirmed the above listed health promoting properties of Schisandra chinensis (3). In South Korea, a study treating cardiovascular symptoms in menopausal women with a non-polar extract of Schisandra chinensis berries, resulted in significant health benefits based on vascular relaxation induced by the Lignans (4).

A different study (5) was able to clarify the mechanisms of anti-inflammatory action and anti-oxidative properties of schisandrins (main Lignan) extracted from Schisandra chinensis berries based on the inhibition of:

(a)   nitric oxide (NO) production

(b)   prostaglandin PGE2 release

(c)    COX-2 system

(d)   inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression.

The anti-proliferative properties in human cancer cells (anti-cancer) of the Schisandra chinensis lignans was investigated for e.g. by by Hye-Young et.al. (6).

A detailed review of Schisandra chinensis properties is given in www.gaiaherbs.com/uploads/A_Research_Review_of_Schisandra-1366989279.pdf and in www.webmd.com .

The Schisandra chinensis health properties can be summarized as follows:

  • Anti-Stress
  • Anti Aging
  • Anti-Inflammation
  • Anti-Cancer
  • Detoxification of Liver and Kidneys

SCHISANDRA AND SPORT

According to several studies the schisandrines of the Schisandra berries have stronger positive cognitive effects (inclusive focus) than the ones obtained from amphetamines and increase the working capacity of the muscles up to 220%.

Other interesting facts concerning the schisandra fruit extracts are:

  • They reduce fatigue and “out of breath” situations,
  • Reduce muscle soreness after heavy workout
  • Maintain low levels of cortisol during the workout, hence maintaining optimal muscle growth conditions. Usually the cortisol concentration in the blood increases after a training session which slows down the muscle growth.
  • Schisandrines increase the dopamine and serotonin concentrations in the brain which improve the mood, positive thinking and well-being.
  • Improve the overall performance of long distance runners, cyclers and bodybuilding athletes.
  • Additionally, the schisandrines do not only improve the muscle strength but also the performance of the respiratory- and cardiovascular system of athletes and improve their physical and mental stress resistance.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Schisandra chinensis fruit or fruit extracts are considered as safe. To our knowledge no contraindications have been reported over the past in spite of it’s over 1000 years of use.

People reacting allergic to Schisandra chinensis or to the Schisandraceae family should avoid this botanical agent.

IMPORTANT: As a matter of precaution pregnant and lactating mothers should avoid Schisandra chinensis and its extracts. There is some evidence that Schisandra may cause the uterus to contract during pregnancy and thus may lead to miscarriage.

DOSAGE FORM

The fresh Schisandra fruits and the in Korea popular Schisandra Tea are difficult to obtain in the EU. Schisandra chinensis is usually found as dried fruits in whole or powder form. The fruit powder is often filled in hard gelatin capsules and sold as supplement.

10 g fresh Schisandra fruit correspond to 1 g powder

A disadvantage of the dried Schisandra powder is its limited bioavailability. The bioavailability can be increased by taking the supplement before or during a fatty meal. Oil or fats increase the bioavailability of the Schisandra lignans considerably (2)

Note: the unique combination of highly purified omega-3 rich fish oil with Schisandra-CO2-Fruit-Extract found in the “BEPS-PLUS” products, ensures optimal absorption of the valuable Schisandra lignans and results in a significantly improved bioavailability.

A further dosage form is the ethanol (alcohol) extract of the fruit powder.

1 g alcohol extract correspond to approximately 10 g dried Schisandra fruit powder. 

Disadvantage of this dosage form is the fact that alcohol not only extracts the non polar lignans and other flavonoids but also many other not so desired polar compounds from the fruit. The typical content of schisandrins (lignans) in the alcohol extract lies by 3,5% to 4,5%.

Alternatively to the alcohol extraction, the Schisandra fruit powder can also be extracted by the very gentle and selective supercritical fluid CO2 extraction method (SFE method). This is the method of choice for the present and future “BEPS-PLUS” product range (e.g. “Fitness Complex”). This is a process completely free of any organic dissolvent, thus no undesired traces of these toxic solvents can be found in BEPS-PLUS supplements. The environmentally friendly and sustainable SFE technology provides a highly selective extract containing approximately 70% oil, 15% aetherische ole, 12% schisandrins (lignans) and 3% other lipophilic compounds. Compared to the alcohol extract the SFE extract contains about 300% more schisandrins (lignans).

1 g SFE Extrakt corresponds to approximately 10g Schisandra fruit powder or 100 g fresh Schisandra berries.

WHY DOES BEPS COMBINE SCHISANDRA AND OMEGA-3?

The unique combination of Schisandra SFE fruit extract with highly purified omega-3 rich fish oil is ideal to make use of the numerous health benefits associated to both key components. The Schisandra SFE fruit extract delivers a high lignan concentration and the combination with the fish oil matrix significantly improves their bioavailability. Additionally, both the Schisandra lignans and the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have very similar health properties, triggering partly the same but also different biochemical reaction pathways in our body. This results in a perfect combination for maximum efficacy. See table below:

Property Schisandra chinensis EPA & DHA (Omega-3)
Anti-Stress Adaptogenic properties (more physical and mental strength, endurance and coordination (anti-stress), increases working and learning capacity, better blood circulation, improved vasodilatation, anti-depressive, Improves mental performance and reduces memory loss, Reduces fear, improves sleep, improves blood, reduces blood viscosity and improves vasodilatation, anti-depressive, increases concentration and social behavior, supports emotional balance and harmony, supports the parasympatic system and this the stress resistance 
Anti-Aging Cleans blood vessels and reduces oxidative cell damage, improves blood circulation and thus nutrient transport to cells. Improves mental performance and reduces memory loss, reduces chronicle inflammation based diseases Cleans blood vessels and reduces oxidative cell damage, improves blood circulation and thus nutrient transport to cells. Improves mental performance and reduces memory loss, DHA is an important building block of the brain cells, nerves and eyes, reduces chronicle inflammation based diseases,
Anti-inflammatory Blocking Nitric oxide (NO), blocking prostaglandin PGE2 release, blocking COX-2 system, blocking inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression Blocking Nitric oxide (NO), blocking prostaglandin PGE2 release, blocking COX-2 system, blocking inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression. Additionally the Resolvine and Protectin anti-inflammatory cascade is activated.
Anti-Cancer Anti-proliferative property (stops or slows down certain human cancer cell growth, improves emotional balance and harmony, reduces risk or symptoms of depression Reduces certain human cancer cell growth, reduces angiosynthesis, reduces body weight loss during conventional cancer therapy (chemo) improves emotional balance and harmony, reduces risk or symptoms of depression.
Cardiovascular System Cleans blood vessels and reduces oxidative cell damage, improves blood circulation, improved vasodilatation, reduced blood pressure, anti-inflammatory, reduced cholesterol. Controls blood lipids, lowers triglycerides and VLDL, increases HDL, reduces blood viscosity, improved vasodilatation, reduced blood pressure, less arrhythmias, increased heart-rate-variability.
Other discussed properties Detoxification of liver and kidneys, general increase of mental and physical stress resistance, treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), improved heat and cold resistance, reduced excessive sweating, improved sleep and body weight control. treatment of allergic disorders including skin diseases Improved general mental and physical performance, increased sperma quality (fertility),  treatment of insomnia,  control of body weight, treatment of dry eye disease (DES) and macular degeneration (MD), treatment of allergic disorders including skin diseases.

Literature:

(1)   Manninan et.al., Z. Lebens. Unters. Forsch. (1997) 204: 200-205

(2)   https://examine.com/supplements/schisandra-chinensis/

(3)   Panossian A., Wikman G. J Ethnopharmacol. (2008) 118(2): 183-212

(4)   Ji Young Pak, et.al.. J Ethnopharmacol. (2009) 121(1): 69-73

(5)   Lian Yu Guo, et.al.. Europ. J. Of Pharmacology (2008) 591 (1-3): 293-299

(6)   Hye-Young Min, et.al.. Medicinal Chemistry Letters (2008) 18(2): 523-526