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Plant Part Used


Active Constituents

schisandrins and gomisins (dibenzocyclooctane lignans),(1) triterpenic acids, triterpenic lactones, essential oil, citric acid, and vitamins C and E.(2)

[span class=alert]This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]


Schisandra is a woody vine with numerous clusters of tiny, bright red berries. It is found throughout northern and northeast China and the adjacent regions of Russia and Korea. The fully ripe, sun-dried fruit is used medicinally. It has sour, sweet, salty, hot, and bitter tastes. This unusual combination of flavors is reflected in schisandra’s Chinese name wu-wei-zi, meaning “five taste fruit.”

Schisandra has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries as a kidney tonifying agent and sedative. It has historically been used to treat cough and wheezing, spontaneous sweating, chronic diarrhea, insomnia, and forgetfulness.(3) In Russia, schisandra has been used as an adaptogen, increasing the body’s natural ability to fight off disease and stresses from chemical, physical, mental and environmental sources.(4) Schisandra has been reported to increase human endurance and mental and physical performance.(5)

Much of the research on the physiological effects of schisandra has been published in Chinese, Japanese or Russian journals. For the most part, it has been performed on purified lignans or lignin extracts, making it difficult to extrapolate the results for whole berries. Major areas of research include hepatoprotective, anticancer, anti-HIV, cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic effects.(6),(7)

Interactions and Depletions


Dosage Info

Dosage Range

100-200mg (standardized extract), 2 times a day.

Most Common Dosage

100mg (standardized extract), 2 times a day.


[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to a minimum 9% schisandrins per dose.


Frequently Reported Uses

  • Adaptogen, Tonic
  • Improves Resistance To Disease, Immune Function
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Increases Stamina, Endurance
  • Enhancement Of Sports Performance
  • Stress

Other Reported Uses

  • HIV
  • Antioxidant
  • Cancer
  • Adjunctive Support In Chemotherapy and Radiation
  • Visual Acuity
  • Immune Enhancement

Toxicities & Precautions


No known toxicity or contraindications in recommended dosages.(12)

Health Conditions

Use with caution in individuals with liver damage or acute infection and fever.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

Based on animal data, do not use in pregnancy.(13)

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age unless recommended by a physician.


Schisandra and its lignans have been reported to prevent liver damage, stimulate liver repair and stimulate normal liver function.(14),(15) These properties are thought to be related to the antioxidant ability of the schisandrins, stimulation of liver glycogen synthesis, protein synthesis, protection of hepatocyte cell membranes and inhibition of CYP3A-mediated liver microsomal drug-metabolizing enzyme activities.(16),(17),(21) Shisandra is also reported to increase Phase II enzymes responsible in detoxification in the liver.(24) Liver regeneration was also reported in laboratory animals following partial hepatectomy.(8)

In clinical studies, schisandra reportedly reduced elevated serum glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (SGPT) levels in various types of hepatitis. However, SGPT levels rebounded after stopping the herb, especially in chronic persistent hepatitis.(18)

Schisandra lignans have been claimed to improve mental efficiency, sensitivity of sight and hearing, increased speed of adaptation to the dark, enlarged the visual field and increased the discrimination of skin receptors.(19) Schisandra has been reported to provide a strong inhibitory effect on skin and liver tumor promotion in laboratory animals.(20)

A human study of 23 healthy volunteers with Hepatitis B found that taking a proprietary schisandra extract (KY88) resulted in a significant reduction in circulating monocytes after 2 weeks of therapy.(25)

Shisandra is also reported in laboratory studies to have anti-inflammatory activity, decreasing the release of proinflammatory cytokines including TNF-alpha, IL-6 and GM-CSF.(26) Schisandra constituents have been reported in laboratory studies to have anticancer activity against various human cancer cell lines.(27),(28) Isolated ligands of schisandra, including schisandrin and schisandrin C, are reported to arrest cancer cell cycle phases and induce apoptosis through down-regulation of anti-apoptic proteins, proteolytic activity and inhibition of caspase-3.(29) Schisandra was reported to have a cardioprotective action during administration of Adriamycin (doxorubicin).(9)

Schisandra also has anti-HIV activity as reported in laboratory studies.(30) Because it is thought to inhibit the cytopathic effects of HIV-1 on human T cells, schisandra is being studied as an adjunct in the treatment of patients with HIV infection.(10),(11)


  1. Ikeya Y, et al. The Constituents of Schizandra chinensis Baill. I. Isolation and Structure Determination of Five New Lignans, Gomisin A, B, C, F and G, and the Absolute Structure of Schizandrin. Chem Pharm Bull.Tokyo. Jun1979;27(6):1383-94.
  2. Zapotil'ko FT, et al. Study of the Natural Oil from the Seed of Schisandra. Farm Zh. May1976;31(3):79-81.
  3. View Abstract: Liu GT. Pharmacological Actions and Clinical Use of Fructus Schizandrae. Chin Med J.(Engl). Oct1989;102(10):740-49.
  4. Suprunov NI, et al. Determination and Study of Lignan Distribution in the Fruits of Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill. Farmatsiia. May1972;21(3):34-37.
  5. View Abstract: Nishiyama N, et al. An Herbal Prescription, S-113m, Consisting of Biota, Ginseng and Schizandra, Improves Learning Performance in Senescence Accelerated Mouse. Biol Pharm Bull. Mar1996;19(3):388-93.
  6. View Abstract: Liu KT, et al. Pharmacological Properties of Dibenzo[a,c]Cyclooctene Derivatives Isolated from Fructus Schizandrae Chinensis III. Inhibitory Effects on Carbon Tetrachloride-induced Lipid Peroxidation, Metabolism and Covalent Binding of Carbon Tetrachloride to Lipids. Chem Biol Interact. Jul1982;41(1):39-47.
  7. View Abstract: Maeda S, et al. Effects of Gomisin A on Liver Functions in Hepatotoxic Chemicals-treated Rats. Jpn J Pharmacol. Aug1985;38(4): 347-53.
  8. View Abstract: Kubo S, et al. Effect of Gomisin A (TJN-101) on Liver Regeneration. Planta Med. Dec1992;58(6):489-92.
  9. Lin TJ, et al. Antioxidant Mechanism of Schisandrin and Tanshinonatic Acid A and Their Effects on the Protection of Cardiotoxic Action of Adriamycin. Shen Li Ko Hsueh Chin Chan. 1991;22(4):342-45.
  10. View Abstract: Fujihashi T, et al. Anti-human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Activities of Halogenated Gomisin J Derivatives, New Nonnucleoside Inhibitors of HIV Type 1 Reverse Transcriptase. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. Sep1995;39(9):2000-07.
  11. View Abstract: Chen DF, et al. Anti-AIDS Agents--XXVI. Structure-activity Correlations of Gomisin-G-related Anti-HIV Lignans from Kadsura Interior and of Related Synthetic Analogues. Bioorg Med Chem. Aug1997;5(8):1715-23.
  12. Leung A, et al. Encylopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics. New York: Wiley-Interscience Publication; 1996:469-71.
  13. Upton R. Schisandra Berry: Analytical, Quality Contol, and Therapeutic Monograph. Santa Cruz, CA: American Herbal Pharmacopoeia; 1999.
  14. View Abstract: Shiota G, et al. Rapid Induction of Hepatocyte Growth Factor mRNA after Administration of Gomisin A, a Lignan Component of Shizandra Fruits. Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. Nov1996;94(2):141-46.
  15. View Abstract: Ohtaki Y, et al. Deoxycholic Acid as an Endogenous Risk Factor for Hepatocarcinogenesis and Effects of Gomisin A, a Lignan Component of Schizandra Fruits. Anticancer Res. Mar1996;16(2):751-55.
  16. View Abstract: Yamada S, et al. Preventive Effect of Gomisin A, a Lignan Component of Shizandra Fruits, on Acetaminophen-induced Hepatotoxicity in Rats. Biochem Pharmacol. Sep1993;46(6):1081-85.
  17. View Abstract: Nagai H, et al. The Effect of Gomisin A on Immunologic Liver Injury in Mice. Planta Med. Feb1989;55(1):13-17.
  18. View Abstract: Li Y. Bioactivity of Neolignans from Fructus Schizandrae. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1991;86(Supp 2):31-37.
  19. Boone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs: Monographs for the Western Practitioner. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press; 1997:69-74.
  20. View Abstract: Yasukawa K, et al. Gomisin A Inhibits Tumor Promotion by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate in Two-stage Carcinogenesis in Mouse Skin. Oncology. 1992;49(1):68-71.
  21. Qin XL, Bi HC, Wang XD, et al. Mechanistic understanding of the different effects of Wuzhi Tablet (Schisandra sphenanthera extract) on the absorption and first-pass intestinal and hepatic metabolism of Tacrolimus (FK506). Int J Pharm. 15 Apr 2010;389(1-2):114-121. Epub 2010 Jan 25.
  22. Huang M, Jin J, Sun H, Liu GT. Reversal of P-glycoprotein-mediated multidrug resistance of cancer cells by five schizandrins isolated from the Chinese herb Fructus Schizandrae. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. Nov 2008;62(6):1015-1026. Epub 2008 Feb 13.
  23. Yoo HH, Lee M, Lee MW, Lim SY, Shin J, Kim DH. Effects of Schisandra lignans on P-glycoprotein-mediated drug efflux in human intestinal Caco-2. Planta Med. May 2007;73(5):444-450.
  24. Lee SB, Kim CY, Lee HJ, Yun JH, Nho CW. Induction of the phase II detoxification enzyme NQO1 in hepatocarcinoma cells by lignans from the fruit of Schisandra chinensis through nuclear accumulation of Nrf2. Planta Med. Oct 2009;75(12):1314-1318. Epub 2009 May 18.
  25. Yip AY, Loo WT, Chow LW. Fructus Schisandrae (Wuweizi) containing compound in modulating human lymphatic system - a Phase I minimization clinical trial. Biomed Pharmacother. Oct 2007;61(9):588-590. Epub 2007 Sep 14.
  26. Kang OH, Chae HS, Choi JH, et al. Effects of the Schisandra fructus water extract on cytokine release from a human mast cell line. J Med Food. Winter 2006;9(4):480-486.
  27. Kim SJ, Min HY, Lee EJ, Kim YS, Bae K, Kang SS, Lee SK. Growth inhibition and cell cycle arrest in the G0/G1 by schizandrin, a dibenzocyclooctadiene lignan isolated from Schisandra chinensis, on T47D human breast cancer cells. Phytother Res. Feb 2010;24(2):193-197.
  28. Choi YW, Kim K, Jo JY, et al. Wuweizisu C from Schisandra chinensis decreases membrane potential in C6 glioma cells. Acta Pharmacol Sin. Sep 2008;29(9):1006-1012.
  29. Park C, Choi YW, Hyun SK, et al. Induction of G1 arrest and apoptosis by schisandrin C isolated from Schizandra chinensis Baill in human leukemia U937 cells. Int J Mol Med. Oct 2009;24(4):495-502.
  30. Li XN, Pu JX, Du X, et al. Lignans with anti-HIV activity from Schisandra propinqua var. sinensis. J Nat Prod. Jun 2009;72(6):1133-1141.

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