Schizandra, also known as Limonnik Chinese in Bulgaria – one of my superfoods! Folk and official medicine are unanimous regarding Schizandra – an excellent adaptogen that increases the level of immunity and restores health, gives strength and vitality. A few years ago, we planted two plants in our garden, and for the second year now we are enjoying fruits. I bought dried fruits from the Chinese shops in Sofia – I use them to make energizing and immunostimulant tea.
The Schizandra plant (Schizandrae chinensis) is a perennial liana plant reaching a height of 8-15 m, which is why it is good to grow it on a structure. It grows well, flowers and bears fruit between 500-1000 m above sea level. Schizandra is a cold-resistant plant for the entire territory of Bulgaria! Because it prefers partial shade and does not grow well in direct summer sunlight, we planted the plants in the northeast part of our garden. The branches are located on a metal structure and under the light shade of a tall pear tree. Requires regular watering during hot summer days! The Schizandra lianas produce many shoots from the roots, but I remove them with pruning shears – they can be left and taken out in late autumn to plant elsewhere. The plants are not heavily pruned, I only remove the branches outside the metal structure. I cut the cut twigs into small pieces and dry them in the shade – I use them in making tea. Schizandra blooms with fragrant flowers in May, strongly attracting bees. After that, small bunches are formed, which gradually ripen and change their color from green to deep red. At the end of August or the beginning of September, the fruits are ripe enough for harvesting – they are carefully plucked, because the fruits fall easily. I dry the picked bunches with an electric dehydrator for 24 hours at 40°C, and then store them in a tightly closing glass jar. I put a part of the fruits in small boxes with a lid and put them in the freezer – I use them in the preparation of a protein smoothie. At the end of September, I pick the leaves from the Schizandra – I leave more than 1/3 of the total amount of leaves on the liana, and I take about 2/3 of the leaves. I dry the collected leaves in the shade, store them in a tightly closed glass jar and use them in making tea.
As early as 5000 years ago, Shen Nong, revered as the father of Chinese medicine and acupuncture, spoke of the complex tonic and healing properties of the magical Schizandra. The beneficial effects of Schizandra on the organs and physiological systems in the human body are described in the book “Shennong Bencao Jing”, considered one of the oldest herbal books in the world and believed to be the earliest Chinese pharmacopoeia, a book on herbs (Chinese pharmacopoeia) and one of the oldest books devoted to medicine in general (Materia medica). The Chinese name of Schizandra is Wu Wei Zi, which translates to “seed/fruit with five flavors”. Schizandra seeds contain all five basic tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, pungent and sour.
Unlike most other fruits, Schizandra is consumed in small quantities, used as a tonic and restorative elixir known to strengthen and balance the work of the five main organs in the body and improve the work of all vital physiological systems. Due to the full range of tonic qualities that Schizandra has, it is very often used in medicinal combinations with Ginseng, Goji berries or Reishi mushrooms. The useful substances of schizandra are contained in all parts of plants – fruits and seeds, leaves and stems, young shoots and bark. Their composition includes many organic acids and vitamins from group B, Vitamin C and trace elements. Most vegetable oils and tonic substances are contained in the fruits and seeds, and in the bark and leaves – there are many essential oils. Schizandra fruits contain lignans (schizandrins, schizandrols, etc.), flavonoid glycosides, such as kaempferol retinoids, organic acids (benzoic, citric, malic, tartaric, etc.), essential oil, sterols, tannins, vitamins A and E, and other components, the combination of which exhibits powerful neurostrengthening, immunomodulating and immunostimulating effects. All parts of the Schizandra plant have a tonic and energizing effect, which is why it is recommended to take them from morning to noon!
Healing properties of Schizandra
- Tonic and generally strengthening – preparations based on schizandra stimulate nervous activity, the heart and respiratory system. This is due to a substance called schizandrin, which excites the central nervous system.
- Immunostimulating – the substances contained in the plant strengthen the immune system. It is useful to drink tinctures and decoctions during the cold season for the prevention of acute respiratory viral infections, flu and colds.
- Psychostimulant – this medicinal plant restores not only physical strength, but also strengthens the body’s mental resources, increases mental capacity and memory, relieves fatigue, apathy and drowsiness.
- Adaptogen – helps the body to adapt to difficult environmental conditions – high mountains, in cold or hot climates. Like ginseng and eleutherococcus, this plant strengthens physical strength in periods of high stress, it is recommended for athletes, climbers, tourists, military personnel, people with physically difficult and dangerous professions.
- Improves metabolism – the plant contains biologically active substances that have a beneficial effect on metabolic processes in the body. Schizandra lowers blood sugar levels, improves blood circulation.
- Does schizandra raise or lower blood pressure? Some herbalists write about the regulating function of schizandra, equalizing blood pressure: when necessary, it increases, and if necessary, it decreases, dilating peripheral vessels. Other sources mention that the fruit is drunk under reduced pressure and the seeds under increased pressure. In third editions they write that schizandra is drunk only under reduced pressure. If you have high blood pressure, be careful when taking schisandra fruit!
Contraindications of Schizandra
- any infections in the acute period
- chronic diseases of the liver, kidneys, heart
- mental disorders
- nervous excitement, insomnia
- congenital diseases of the central nervous system
- epilepsy, convulsions
- craniocerebral trauma, increased intracranial pressure
- individual intolerance, allergic reaction
When taking schizandra, attention should be paid to its medicinal interaction with other preparations – analgesics, stimulants of the nervous system / this includes herbal preparations based on ginseng and eleuterococcus /, neuroleptics, sleeping pills, tranquilizers!
How we can use Schizandra
- Dried fruits – the most commonly used way to make tea is from dried fruit.
- Powders or dry extracts – powders are usually made from juiced, dried or frozen fruit. Extracts are usually made from a concentrated tea solution in powder form.
- Liquid solutions or tinctures – are prepared from tea concentrates or solutions in alcohol.
- Fresh fruits – direct consumption or added to smoothies.
- Dried leaves and twigs – for the preparation of tea with a milder effect, since the content of active ingredients in the leaves and twigs of schizandra is less compared to the fruits and seeds.
According to ancient Chinese tradition, Schizandra tea should be consumed for at least 100 consecutive days without interruption! In this way, the adaptogen Schizandra can have a maximally complete effect on balancing the five main organs of the body: heart, lungs, spleen (and pancreas), kidneys and liver.
Our way of making Schizandra tea
INGREDIENTS for 2 cups of tea
6 pcs. Schizandra dried fruit
2 pcs. dried Schizandra leaves
2 pcs. dry twigs Schisandra 1 cm long
100 ml. filtered water with a temperature of 30°C
– vessel with a capacity of 150 ml
4 g dry green tea leaves
use good quality tea leaves
300 ml filtered water with a temperature of 60°C
2 pcs. tea cups with a capacity of 200 ml
– a vessel for infusing the tea leaves
1. In a glass cup with a capacity of 150 ml, I put the dried fruits, leaves and twigs of schizandra. I pour in the water, put a glass plate on top as a lid and let it stand for 12 hours – I usually prepare the extract in the evening and let it stand until the next morning.
2. I put the tea leaves in a glass teapot and pour the warm water, let it stand for 2 minutes and then pour the finished tea into cold glass tea cups – this is how I lower the temperature of the tea. I pour the Schizandra extract prepared earlier in the evening equally into the two glasses and stir slightly.
3. I serve the tea prepared in this way unsweetened!
Nutritional value of 100 g fresh Schizandra fruits:
Energy value – 11.60 kcal
Proteins – 1 g
Carbohydrates – 1.90 g
Fat – 0 g
Fiber – 1 g