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Schisandra Chinensis

The Missing Nutrient

In the folklore of the Far East, the Schisandra fruit has long been used as a stimulant for speedy re-energizing and to relieve fatigue. In modern times, pharmacological studies at the Khabarovsk Institute of Medicine have revealed new amazing properties. Read all about it in this article.

  1. Adaptogens
  2. What is it?
  3. Stress Shield
  4. Stronger than Stress
  5. From Folklore to Medicine

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More than three decades ago a group of scientists at the Far Eastern Division of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Vladivostok set about researching the legendary healing powers of certain plants growing in the mountainous regions in Tibet, North Korea and Siberia. They gathered these plants and subjected them to endless tests in order to determine the truth of their reported healing benefits. Of some 350 such plants traditionally used by herbal healers as part of folk medicine a few were singled out as possessing almost miraculous properties.

Professors Brechman, Dardymor and Lebedev of the Soviet Academy announced before a startled assemblage of scientists that the few tested plants have properties surpassing those of vitamins, minerals and proteins. The tested plants contain a hitherto 'missing' or lost nutrient that possesses dynamic powers of healing not found in any other comparable substance. Immediately more research was authorized to delve into the mysteries of this plant group and see how this missing nutrient could be isolated and packaged for human consumption. Hopes were high that it would provide the missing link for total health.

Parallel research was soon being conducted by Norman Farnsworth PhD., chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Chicago. The same findings about the powerful missing nutrient were confirmed.

In Europe research undertaken as part of the Follinge Project underwritten by a Swedish government grant also brought forth evidence of a unique healing substance in the plants, one that might well hold hope for healing many of mankind's ills. In particular it was Karl Otto Aly, MD., medical and research advisor at the Swedish Herbal Institute in Göteborg, who on a lecture tour in the United States revealed some of the scientific findings. The word was out. The scientist labelled the missing nutrient adaptogen.


These are vital substances that reportedly help people enjoy a longer life and a more active lifestyle. Adaptogens are biologically active substances in the same classification as vitamins, minerals, trace elements, proteins etc. But unlike these others this nutrient is found solely in a few plant foods that have been grown for hundred upon hundreds of centuries in the forbidden regions bordering on Tibet. The scientists have announced these plants can be used as a supplement similar to other nutrients and will provide swift protection from, as well as healing for many ailments. Adaptogens hold the key to total healing and may well be a 'fountain of health'.

Scientists report that adaptogens bring about these almost immediate benefits:

  • Improved regulation and promotion of energy supplies to trillions of the body's cells during periods of physiological or psychological stress

  • Stimulation of the body's immunity defences providing greater resistance against the ravages of ailments

  • Counteraction of the erosive effects brought on by over-consumption of sugar

  • Reduced stress among workers in unpleasant industrial conditions

  • Recovery from or resistance to the effects of respiratory influenza

  • Increased powers of strength, stamina, vim and vigour

  • Diminished tendency to motion sickness

  • Superabundance of energy and vigour comparable to that enjoyed by young athletes.

These are just some of the amazing benefits possible through the use of adaptogens, the 'missing' nutrient now isolated and put to the rigorous testing of European scientists.

From the Institute for Biologically Active Substances (a branch of The Soviet Academy of Science), Professor Brechman and his colleagues announced still more findings about adaptogens, this nutrient, said the scientists, could create these reactions: adaptogens protect the body against radioactive and X-ray radiation and chemical poisons. The nutrient reduces elevated sugar content in the blood and has a soothing action in functional nervous disorders. It normalises blood pressure creating a balance. It has a therapeutic effect in the initial stages of atherosclerosis and helps reduce high blood cholesterol. The scientists also report that adaptogens as a tonic relieve general tiredness, give increased mental alertness and promote more youthful functions of the entire body.

But perhaps its most interesting effect is its ability to act as a protector or shield against infections. It allows one to better resist or tolerate stress (mental and/or physical) caused by the environment and by chemical pollution of the body. Adaptogens provide insulation against the age-causing ravages of the environment. This may well be the biggest benefit of the newly discovered nutrient.

Where Do Adaptogens Come From?

To begin with this nutrient group is not found in everyday foods. That is the reason why it had been unknown to mankind for all these thousands of years. Instead adaptogens are found in a few plant foods that have been gathered from the snow-washed sun-warmed mountain soils near Tibet. Soviet scientists have found that a plant growing in these regions can provide a powerhouse of adaptogens.

The Soviet scientists have identified the plant as SCHISANDRA CHINENSIS. For simplicity this is referred to as Schisandra fruit or berry.

What is Schisandra?

A berry-like fruit, it grows on a thorny creeping bush. The berries that come forth are reddish-brown similar to shrivelled-up lingon berries and offer a weak sweet taste similar to cloves. The tiny pips (small fruit seeds taken from the fleshy fruit portion) leave a mildly bittersweet after-taste in the mouth. It grows wild in the north of China and has been an essential component of natural medicines prescribed by physicians in this region for many thousands of years.

As far back as 2697 B.C. Schisandra was classified as superior by Pen-Tsao in the classic Yellow Emperor's Study of Inner Medicine, an encyclopedia of healing plants. In Beng Cao Cang Mu, a great book on pharmacy written by Li Schizheng in the 16th century, Schisandra is listed in the highest ranks. It is said to increase energy, replenish and nourish the viscera (internal abdominal organs such as intestines, lungs etc.), improve vision, boost muscular activity and sooth both coughs and digestive upsets.

The adaptogens in Schisandra have been used by scientists in Sweden and the USSR. It has been found that these nutrients can aid the central nervous system, intensify mental and physical activity, enhance tone of the cardiovascular system, increase cardiac contractibility, activate a sluggish respiration, stimulate the uterus and stabilize blood pressure. These are just a few of the healing traced to the influence of adaptogens, the 'missing' nutrient, that has been taken out of Schisandra and put in handy capsule or tablet form.

According to Dr Karl Otto Aly, an adaptogen is not a nutrient that has a specific effect on an individual malfunctioning organ or process in the body directly. "Instead the adaptogen acts indirectly via basic and regulating processes and organs of the body itself. The adaptogen helps your body help itself! This dynamic nutrient corrects the disorder by instructing your body to do so." In other words, the adaptogens will make over the entire body by initiating the self-regeneration process. This makes it a unique nutrient beyond comparison. While all nutrients are valuable and required for sustenance, only the adaptogen will prompt the body into releasing its own sluggish and oft-weakened powers of self-revitalization.

Adaptogens Create Stress Shield

Stress can be of psychological, physical, chemical or biological origin. For example, living and working in a polluted environment subjects one to chemical stress. Consuming mass-produced artificial foods causes internal deterioration of vital organs which is also interpreted as stress. The health hazard of stress comes from emotional upset, mental depression, hard physical and mental labour, noise pollution environmental toxins, tobacco (smoke from other smokers, not exclusively oneself), infections and endless other assaults. This is what doctors label stress. These shocks occur daily, often around the clock. They jeopardize the body's health.

When stress occurs the body prepares for fight or flight. It limits it's use of carbohydrates and turns to fat as an energy source. If the body is exposed to unrelieved stress during a prolonged time span this leads to a chronic state of sub-normal energy being supplied to the cells. Resistance is therefore reduced. This stress-caused loss of cellular energy leads to breakdown and disintegration and the ageing process.

When stress factors have gone beyond the body's ability to cope, a risky reaction takes place. So-called beta-lipoproteins are formed which, in part, obstruct the passage of glucose through the cell walls into the cell. Partially, this prevents hexokinase from participating in the energy exchange within the cell. As a result, the cell receives little energy. It loses its ability to maintain its functions.

When a patient suffering from stress takes the 'missing' nutrient, adaptogen, there is a normalisation of the energy replacement almost at once. This counteracts the reduction of energy loss. The effective elements of adaptogens come between and join up beta-lipoproteins to reduce or eliminate their negative effects on energy replacement.

At the same time: the adaptogens strengthen the more positive reaction of cellular energy. Adaptogens are able to build resistance to the ravages of stress. At the same time, the nutrient rebuilds cells and tissues and initiating a self-regeneration process. So it is that this 'lost' nutrient is able to give one an extended lifeline of life itself!

Adaptogens help the body remain vital and healthy even under unfavourable conditions. Adaptogen affects the energy supply of cells in your brain, muscles, liver kidneys, glands, nerves, and just about everywhere else, energising them and allowing them to function properly even when subjected to unfavourable conditions.

There is a most important secondary effect of this normalisation of the energy supply of the cells: All body cells are continuously renewed. This most basic function depends upon a pair of nucleid proteins known as RNA and DNA. Adaptogen energizes the RNA and DNA molecules to rebuild cells.

The Wrinkled Fruit That's Stronger Than Stress

As reported in Sweden's leading health magazine, Ma Bra (Well Being), No. 4 1950, the wrinkled, little Schisandra fruit has amazing strentgh. It stimulated Soviet fighter pilots during World War II, and for over two years it contributed to the successes of the Swedish skiing team. Thousands of years ago in the north of China where the thorny Schisandra bush grows, lived a hunting people called Manaja. They took the dried Schisandra fruit with them whenever they went on long hunting trips. It increased their stamina and gave them extra energy. To this day; Russian hunters in Eastern Siberia use the berries, stalks and roots from this plant in the form of tea to provide extra energy to cope with the rugged terrain and climate.

According to Dr Karl Otto Aly more investigations were conducted into the Schisandra adaptogen's ability to stimulate the body and create vigour. Dr Aly describes how this wrinkled berry, in tablet form was given to telegraphists, forest workers, long distance runners, pre-school children and factory workers. All were reported being extra-energised. ln a group of cross-country runners, doctors conducted a double blind test. Some runners-were given amphetamines: Another set of runners were given adaptogens through the red berry supplement. Dr. Aly reports that "the improved performance found in the Schisandra group was easily in the same class as that of the group given the notorious doping drug".

From Folklore To Medicine

In the folklore of the Far East, Schisandra fruit has long been used as a stimulant for speedy re-energizing and to relieve fatigue. In modern times, pharmacological studies have been carried out at the Khabarovsk Institute of Medicine. Test animals were given decoctions and tinctures of the Schisandra berry. The adaptogens were found to tone the heart and vascular system, heighten arterial force and create amplitude of cardial contractions and improve the rhythm and depth of breathing. In one situation, adaptogens were found to widen the vessels of a test animal, improving blood circulation.

Dr. Aly reports that, in healthy persons, Schisandra helps overcome feelings of fatigue under strain. Some subjects maintained good weight levels also due to the adaptogen influence. "Those persons who had been given Schisandra decoction retaining almost all of their physical strength under extreme physical strain (such as hanging by the hands) whereas, in control groups, those not receiving the berry nutrient showed a drop in physical strength after some exertion. They also complained of fatigue and many of them fell asleep after some exhaustion.

From Russia a report was issued on the effect of a tincture of Schisandra seeds which was able to help build resistance to influenza during an epidemic that was raging in 1969. According to A. A. Levedev of Polyclinic No. 1, in the town of Chirchik a test was carried out on 559 children who were evenly slpit into two groups. One group received Schisandra, the other did not. After a period of time, the group receiving Schisandra was found to have greater resistance to influenza than the group deprived of this dynamic nutrient.

Dr Aly tells of still more medical miracles attributed to the use of adaptogen berry:

  • Insomnia: a patient who had depressive states of psychogenic aetiology, excessive fatigue, sleep and nervous disorders was able to overcome these conditions and correct insomnia with the use of Schisandra.

  • Chronic Gastritis: Patients who suffered from chronic gastritis or thrombocytopenia were given the Schisandra berries. There was a balancing of the levels of acidity in the stomach and the intestinal functions were soothed. In hypo-acidic gastritis, a two to three week intake of the Schisandra berries brought about a stable improvement.

  • Neurasthenic Disorders: Patients with neurasthenic problems were given the Schisandra berries and showed a significant improvement in general well-being. Headaches disappeared. Sleep normalized. Appetite improved. Symptoms disappeared completely after the 25th to 27th day. Thereafter, the syndromes of fatigue and exhaustion diminished more rapidly. There was an improvement in mental and physical performance.

  • Eyesight Difficulties: So-called night blindness could be corrected with the use of Schisandra. Adaption to darkness was improved. There was a general increased sharpness of vision and a widening of the boundaries of the field of vision after a 10-day course of use of Schisandra.

Adaptogens have remained lost too long. As a missing link, these nutrients can create dynamic healing, so important for well being. One need not venture forth to the forbidden regions bordering on Tibet to pick the wrinkled fruits of Schisandra. Instead, this adaptogenic product is available directly from specialist distributors. The Schisandra is premixed with several other ingredients that emphasize its ability to distribute adaptogens throughout the system.

Further Reading Materials

Winston, David, and Steven Maimes.

ADAPTOGENS: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief.

Healing Arts Press, 2007. (Contains a detailed monograph on S. chinensis as well as a discussion of health benefits.)

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