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  • Schizandra: The Legendary Longevity Berry

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    Elizabeth Aantrobus

    According to an ancient Chinese story, there was a man by name of Huai Nan Gong who had been consuming schizandra for 16 years concurrently. As a result, he had the complexion of that of a “Jade Girl” (a way of expressing extreme beauty in China.)

    Legend has it that Huai Nan would stay almost dry in water and unburnt in fire. The story was used as a metaphor to show what schizandra was good for. Protecting and maintaining the body’s beauty and strength, due to harshness from the elements.

    Schizandra was routinely used by Taoist because of its life strengthening power, as it invigorates the and empowers the mind. Daoist appreciated it because it helped to develop their spiritual powers.

    It was first written about in China’s first herbal encyclopedia, Shen Nong’s Materia Medica, where it was listed as a Superior Herb (A rare class of herbs that one can consume daily). Schisandra has been used throughout the history of the Chinese civilization as a tonic herb to be consumed daily throughout one’s lifetime as an anti-aging herb to promote longevity and maintain beauty and one’s mind through time. Though Schizandra is believed to benefit all functions of the body, it has traditionally been considered to have the most influence on kidney, lung and liver function in China.

    Schiszandra is frequently pictured in ancient Chinese art as the symbol of longevity and beauty, even suggesting the ability to attain immortality. In one painting, Magu, the goddess of beauty and eternal youth, is shown serving a tray of Schisandra, Reishi (the herb of immortality) and a “peach of longevity” to her immortal friends. Magu is said to forever appear the age of eighteen.

    The schizandra berry is one of the most famous of the Chinese herbs. It is commonly referred to as the 5 flavour berry (wu wei zi). This is because it contains all 5 flavours: salty, sour, sweet, pungent, and bitter. Schizandra berries are called the “quintessence of tonic herbs” by Taoist masters. It is the only herb known to be perfectly Yin-Yang balanced, to contain all three Treasures (Jing, Qi and Shen), to nurture all five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water) and to enter all twelve energy channels (meridians) of the human body.

    It is primarily thought of as only a herb popular in Chinese Medicine, however, it was the Russians who first classified it as an adaptogen in the Russian Pharmacopoeia For its ability to assist the body’s adaptive responses to stress of various kinds. This was found because of the Nanai (Siberian) hunters used the herb to improve stamina and the tough hunting conditions with long, cold days and nights, and scarce food and water. These Siberian hunters would chew some Schisandra berries which credited them with enabling them to chase a Sable all day without getting tired! This gave rise to scientists investigating the berry. It became most well known in the early 1960’s as an adaptogen as a result. From this came a large number of pharmacological and clinical studies carried out by USSR scientists between 1940 and the early 1960’s. Even Kora noted its health benefits when a village was found consuming daily tea’s from the berry. A study done in Korea has shown in vivo and in vitro that a schisandra extract can significantly delay the uptake of sugars, fight dementia and chelate certain heavy metals from the body. https://www.researchgate.net/scientific-contributions/16304448_Jum_Soon_Kang

    Today Schizandra is known for its ability to improve vision and the eyes. It can be taken by anyone accept pregnant women who can still use it at the end to assist childbirth;  Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: Herbal formulations for the individual patient. Edinburgh [u.a.: Churchill Livingstone. (Pg 405-408). When you are buying Schizandra, you want to be sure you are getting the REAL Berry. Many products sold in America are made with “Southern Schizandra” but it’s the wrong species of Schizandra so make sure you do NOT buy “Southern” Schizandra botanically called S. sphenanthera aka (nan wǔ wèi zi). You want “Northern Schizandra” comes from Manchuria ala S. chinensis (běi wǔ wèi zi) it is the only real tonic Schizandra.

    The Divine Farmer’s Classic of the Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing) lists Schisandra as among the superior herbs, saying that it would  “prolong the years of life without aging.”

    Probably because Hawthorn polyphenol extract inhibits UVB-induced skin photoaging.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30032605

    Schizandra berries boost liver metabolic enzymes, and work for almost every eye ailment there is. (Use as tea or smoothie, with food.) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19452436 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18270473 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19500070 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16552829 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18284822

    Lignans found within Schisandra inhibit the growth of human lung cancer cells. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18063366

    Schisandra chinensis induces phase II detoxification enzymes in liver cancer cells, indicating its potential in the prevention of liver cancer. Induction of the phase II detoxification enzyme NQO1 in hepatocarcinoma cells by lignans from the fruit of Schisandra chinensis through nuclear accumulation of Nrf2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19452436

    Lignans found within Schisandra demonstrates anti-HIV virus activity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19413342

    Schizandrin, a compound found within the fruit of Schisandra, inhibits the growth human breast cancer cells. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19585470

    Schisandra sphaerandra contains a compound which inhibits HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8778243

    Schisandra may have hair growth-promoting effects. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19153064

    Lignans found within Schisandra inhibit the growth of human lung cancer cells. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18063366

    The Legendary Longevity Berry = http://www.tonictoronto.com/Summer-2014/Schizandra/

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