Heathen1(10a)September 2, 2005

I was wondering if anyone has used schizandra for it's adaptogenic properties and what was the dosage and what were the results?

Or has anyone used ANY of the adaptogenic herbs and what is the favorites? I am an aging athlete :o) just wondering.

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I'm aging, but not an athlete, and I've never tried it myself. However, I know that many fitness-fanatic young people believe that it's a magic wand which works much the same as steroids in increasing their fitness etc. You might have to extract some information from Olympic athletes to find out if it has worked for them! There has been a rumour that some of them use it instead of steroids. If they do, it doesn't seem to have enhanced their performance significantly enough for the authorities to ban it, yet! And speaking of performance, many people believe it will increase and improve sexual performance - it IS claimed to be a sexual tonic. Probably over-rated, though.

Shizandra berries are used to treat stress, as a tonic for the kidneys and sexual organs, the immune system, the liver, depression, endurance and mental clarity. Frequently used to treat neuroses, to improve concentration and co-ordination, forgetfulness and irritability. Useful in the treatment of night sweats, excessive thirst and urinary frequency. They are strongly antioxidant. Used for difficulty in digesting fatty food. They are also used for acne, hives and other skin problems, including eczema, usually taken as a medicinal wine for these problems. It is sometimes used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery, and is claimed to improve failing sight and hearing. It can be used as a support for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Warning: Occasionally causes heartburn, decreased appetite or skin rash. Overdoses can also lead to restlessness, insomnia, or difficulties in breathing. [You can put this another way - it's an 'upper', with all the associated problems of 'uppers'.]

    Bookmark   September 2, 2005 at 5:28PM
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lundpix(Southern Cal)

I have used it personally and with others. Remember that an adaptogen is intended to bring back into balance something out of balance. In this herb, for example, it can benefit a person who is dry who needs moistening or damp who needs drying.

It is considered to contain all five flavors by the Chinese. For me, as a westerner, it just seems to taste mostly bitter. I have used it alone in a tisane or along with astragalus, a little ginseng, a little licorice root, some dioscorea, and some goji berries for a wintertime brew to help build immune strength. My Chinese doctor uses it for liver issues, but she is very careful to limit the prescription to about 10-15 berries. She has it in one of her commercial formulas. I have seen her scold at a customer who received a Chinese herbal prescription from another practitioner because it contained many more schizandra berries than she thought was right. So I would limit consumption to about 15 berries at a time, maybe using it no more than two times daily.

I am not sure if it is immune stimulating, but it may affect the immune system in a way to quiet it down. The mention of use with skin issues suggests that it is probably doing something along those lines.

It is hard to find in capsules, but easy to find in Chinese herbal stores. It usually sells for about $15 to $20 a pound, but prices may vary. I have seen one place that will provide powder in capsules on the net.

I do not recall any adverse events that have been reported to me, but my pool of users is pretty small. I believe this is one of the herbs that the Chinese would say brings longevity, like goji berries and ganoderma.

In terms of sexual performance, it is not usually sold with that in mind by traditional Chinese herbalists. I can only imagine the possible claims that could be made for it, but really it is a good herbal tool for us to use and could bring benefits to those who are proper candidates. Like many herbs in the general category of adaptogen, its use may be found to bring the body back to balance rather than to achieve some new excess. For many of us westerners with too much sweet and salty tastes in our diets, it may contribute to a balance in the flavors, and thereby benefit liver function and bile release.

I found 121 citations at when I entered it as a search term. It seems to be under study in some in vitro and pharmacogical action studies. It is too early to tell what it may do for some of the diseases and maladies that we have from its pharmaconosy study, but we do have significant human use over a long period of time in China, so use as an herbal tea ingredient through water decoction should be safe when used as in a limited amount. I believe it is considered a superior herb, so it may have been used long term historically without regard to toxicity.

Normal concerns about buying herbs from the open market apply here. It is good to know the herbalists selling it. It is not a root, so it is less likely to have heavy metal contamination from the soil, but it still could have been raised with pesticides. So those who worry have a reason to do so. (Some of us Alfred E. Newman types just say, "What! me worry?")


    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 2:19AM
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:o) I am not looking for it for anything but well, if it has liver benefits, that's great, and I run, bike and swim...and hike. I don't want a magic pill, just would like to recover a bit faster than I do! :o) the one problem about getting old.... sigh...

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 11:56AM
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okay... just purchased some in powder form.... how much is 10-15 berries in powder form, maybe a teaspoonful? Thanks! I tried a little... the first taste I can taste the "5 tastes" the rest tasted like eating pure nutmeg! Auggg! :o)

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 4:00PM
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The idea of an "adaptogen", or something that will be a tonic and help the body generally resist disease is an appealing one.
However evidence that any herb or other drug can have such wide-ranging effects is lacking. In Schizandra's case, the only clinical trial I can find is a small pilot study out of Armenia that reported beneficial effects of a combination herbal drug including Schizandra, in the treatment of familial Mediterranean fever.

As to whether this herb benefits the liver, the kidneys, the immune system, sexual function, brain function, physical endurance, coordination, the G.I. tract, night sweats, the skin, sight, hearing or any of the myriad other things it's claimed to be good for - if it's this much of a cure-all, one wonders why the traditional Chinese herbalists would have needed to administer any other drug.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 5:35PM
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lundpix(Southern Cal)

As I understand it, the word adaptogen refers to the normalizing of body conditions that are out of balance. I gave the example before of a dry condition being brought into moisture or a damp condition being made more dry. The word adaptogen is of modern Russian origin, so I would not personally blame the Chinese for it. And I don't find many people saying that adaptogens are cure-alls. I sure don't.

I save that for snake oil.

In regard to the descriptions used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, e.g. dampness-dry, yin-yang, excess-deficiency, cold-heat, I would not expect to find much in Western Clinical Trials. I did make reference to some current activity in preclinicals, so you may just be able to find some Western clinical trials in the next 20 years if anything pans out. In the mean time, you may have to learn from those who actually have studied it in human beings, the Chinese. And their literature is sometimes translated into English.

You may find articles in various Materia Medica of the TCM herbs. I found four citations on liver benefits in one volume of my library.

Ko, K.M. et al., Planta Medica, 61, 134, 1995

Lin, G.T. in Advances in Chinese Medical Materials Research, Chang, H.M. et al. Eds. 1985, World Scientific Publishing, Singapore, pp. 257-268

Mazumber, A. et al. Biochem. Pharmacol., 49, 1165, 1995

Nishiyama,, N. et al. Biol. Pharm. Bull., 18, 1498, 1995.

One of the typical approaches in TCM is to use combinations of herbs for their synergistic benefits. This is typical of the use of schizandra. Western medicines often are centered on one molecule. It is easier to study in pharmacology that way. We find the liver clearing time, blood levels, the reactions with other drugs, etc. But with plants and plant medicines like schizandra, the whole bunch of interesting molecules gets mixed with other bunches from the other combining species. And then we have a real mess not suitable for much HPLC work. So it is hard to plan any study of that type of thing. You will not see much published also for that reason. And then there is the intellectual property issue as well.

I am here to discuss herbal medicine. We have to look at what is available to discuss, not just affirm that everything that is not published in peer-reviewed journals is not able to be discussed until it is.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 8:43PM
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What it really boils down to for many, is whether an herbal drug confers significant benefits, with a good safety profile, at a reasonable cost.

For some, faith and tradition (poorly documented) are enough to go on. The rest of us want good evidence before putting something unknown in our bodies, especially something as nebulous as a "tonic" a.k.a. "adaptogen".

Chinese journals form part of the international scientific database, and any clinical trials in humans should be available to summarize, if you would like to do so.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 11:22PM
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Now, I must have been misunderstanding... I thought that an adaptogen, or maybe just some of them, were supposed to help the body recover faster. I am not sure where I got this idea. That was what I wanted the schizandra for. I have had Hep C and HIV for 23 years... this summer, my jogging seemed to make my muscles sore more next day, more than usual. So... since I had read that it might be good for the liver, I was like, "what the hey"... so, if it works, all the better, if it doesn't, oh well, I will soon stop it, it doesn't taste good to me. :o) I can be a little unscientific experiment... see if it helps me be better at my jogging and bicycling. I'd like to have a miracle pill, but I have pretty much given up on that.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 4:31PM
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Okay... I also go to the doctor on the 19th. See what's up... there are a LOT of things cooking in my body... it is kinda unbelievable that I am still plugging along! :o)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 11:57AM
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To use, or not to use, here are the major guidelines for
wu wei zi(fructus Schisandrae chinensis):Go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. Is the layer of "fur" on your tongue yellow and thick? Then you don't use schizandra. Do you have high blood pressure? Then you don't use schizandra. Do you have fevers, rashes, measles? Then you don't use schizandra. Are you pregnant? Schizandra can induce contactions. Best to use something else.
As an adaptogen it is safer than ginseng, as it can be used for coughs(not at first, though) without the danger of driving the illness deeper inside your lungs. It inhibits Staph. aureus and several other types of pathogenic bacteria, helps with night sweats,is somewhat analgesic, and is a stimulant(but less so than caffiene). It lowers liver SGPT. 4or5 doses with other herbs treats Meniere's syndrome.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 5:18PM
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In the deep woods in the Southeast, we have an American species of Schizandra. Fruiting is usuallty sporadic--some years an abundance of berries and some years not one to be found. I contracted Hep C from transfusions in '97 and the next Summer was a good year for Schizandra. I ate the berries every day and froze enough to last for several months. Within 6 months, the Hep C was gone---my hepatologist said, "not a viral body to be found", only antibodies to indicate I'd ever had the virus. It's never come back since then.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:07PM
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I hope Warren knows that chronic hepatitis C can exist in the presence of antibodies to the virus, and that it often remains asymptomatic for years while still doing damage to the liver (detection of hepatitis C RNA is important for determining whether there is current hep C infection).

Hep C diagnosis and treatment has advanced considerably since 1997 (there are drugs now that consistently cure the disease in more than two-thirds of patients).

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 12:08AM
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