Schisander berry

Chinese Name: Wu wei zi
Medical Name:
Latin Name: Schisandra chinensis(Turcz.) baill
Taste: Sour

Quotes from Chinese historical sources

THE HERBAL CLASSIC OF SHEN-NONG: "Its flavour is sour and warm. It is used primarily to benefit the spirit, to treat coughs and dyspneas induced by adverse rising of lung-energy, to counter symptoms of overwork arising from physical weakness; to overcome shortages of energy; to strengthen Yin-energy and to aid spermatogenesis."

OTHER CLASSIFIED RECORDS OF FAMOUS DOCTORS: "Not poisonous. It acts chiefly to support the five internal organs, eliminating fever and increasing the power of Yin-energy."

OPINIONS ON THE PROPERTIES OF HERBS: "(Schisandra) is the primary ingredient used in these formulations... it counters imbalances of the lower and middle energies, allays vomiting, repairs the damages of various consumptive diseases, promotes healthy moisture in the body, eliminates heatstrokes. To be prescribed when the patient complains of fatigue and flatulence due to coughs and other disorders of the vital energy."

RI HUA ZI MATERIA MEDICA: "Clears the eyes, warms the kidneys, cures apoplexies, promotes the flow of vital energy, helps digestion, counters stomach cramps at the onset of cholera, disperses obstructions in the gut, alleviates running-pig syndrome (a syndrome due either to adverse rising of Yin energy from the kidney or fire-evil of the liver-channel), stabilizes disorders in the Yin flow, dispels hydroncus, controls vomiting, breaks down accumulations of vital energy in the chest and abdomen, quenches chronic thirst, eliminates feverish sensations accompanied by restlessness, counters alcoholic poisoning, tonic."

Western Research

J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Jun 30;106(2):279-84.
Matrix degradation inhibitory effect of Schisandra fructus on human articular cartilage and chondrocytes.
Choi SI, Park SR, Heo TR.
Department of Biological Engineering, Inha University, Incehon 402-751, South Korea.
The purpose of this study is to assess the protective effects exerted by Schisandra fructus (SF) on hyaluronidase (HAase) and the recombinant human interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) induced matrix degradation in human articular cartilage and chondrocytes. The effect of SF on the matrix gene expression of immortalized chondrocyte cell line C-28/I2 treated with HAase was investigated using a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In addition, the effects of SFEA on HAase and IL-1beta induced matrix degradation in human articular cartilage were assessed using a staining method, and the quantity of glycosaminoglycan (GAG) degraded was calculated from the cultured media. In HAase treatment group, the released GAGs content increased significantly to 15.8+/-0.7 microg, compared with control levels (5.0+/-0.2 microg), whereas co-treatment with SFEA (100 microg/ml) reduced the GAG release to 10.8+/-0.7 microg (P<0.05). Also, in the group treated only with IL-1beta (11.9+/-0.3 microg), the amount of released GAG increased significantly compared to the control (7.9+/-0.1 microg) and the SFEA-treated group (7.8+/-0.4 microg). SFEA at 100 microg/ml inhibited PG degradation (9.0+/-0.5 microg, P<0.05). However, no concentration-dependent increases in inhibitory activity were observed. Therefore, since SFEA treatment resulted in no pathological impact on either the chondrocytes or cartilage, we suggest that SF can be safely used as an effective material for the prevention of proteoglycan (PG) degradation.

Am J Chin Med. 2006;34(2):171-6.
Biochemical basis of the "Qi-invigorating" action of Schisandra berry (wu-wei-zi) in Chinese medicine.
Ko KM, Chiu PY.
Department of Biochemistry, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong, China.
Schisandra berry or Wu-Wei-Zi, meaning the "the fruit of five tastes" in Chinese, is a commonly used herb in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Based on the "Five-Element" theory in TCM, while the "five tastes" of Schisandra berry refer to its influence on the five visceral organs in the body, ancient Chinese herbalists specifically trumpeted the berry's beneficial effect on the "Qi" of the five visceral organs. "Qi" is a Chinese term used as a broad description of energy-dependent body functions. Over the past ten years, our laboratory has attempted to define the biochemical properties of Schisandra berry in regard to its purported "Qi-invigorating" properties. We have found, for the first time, an ability of Schisandra berry to fortify mitochondrial antioxidant status, thereby offering the body a generalized protection against noxious challenges both of internal and external origin. Given the indispensable role of the mitochondrion in generating cellular energy, the linking of Schisandra berry to the safeguarding of mitochondrial function provides a biochemical explanation for its "Qi-invigorating" action.

Ceska Slov Farm. 2001 Jul;50(4):173-80.
[Phytotherapeutic aspects of diseases of the circulatory system. 7. Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill.): its composition and biological activity] [Article in Czech]
Opletal L, Krenkova M, Havlickova P.
Katedra farmaceuticke botaniky a ekologie, Farmaceuticke fakulty, Univerzity Karlovy, Hradec Kralove.
Schisandra chinensis (TURCZ.) BAILL., originally a Japanese-Manchurian endemite, yields a vegetable drug (Schisandrae fructus) with a number of very utilizable therapeutic effects. The paper reports the results of phytochemical and pharmacological-toxicological studies approximately from the year 1990 carried out both with the drug and, in particular, the principal isolated lignans of the dibenzo[a,c]cyclooctadiene type. The results confirm the validity of the historical use of the drug, in particular as a hepatoprotective, adaptogenic, and antioxidative agent. It is obvious that a very positive therapeutic effect based on the use of a complex mixture of its principal constituents because their biological effects are complementary and potentiate each other. At the same time, some lignans (e.g. gomisin A, gomisin N) are interesting as new prospective medicines.