In the ever-expanding world of functional foods, schisandra berries have emerged as a powerful ingredient. They’re rapidly becoming a staple in premium supplements and food products around the globe. Schisandra Chinensis, also referred to as Omija Berry or the "five-flavor fruit,” has long been a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine for almost 2000 years. And in addition to its distinct taste profile, it features a number of hard-to-ignore health benefits.
We’re going to explore the fruit’s meteoric rise in popularity and the primary benefits of the red-colored schisandra berry. We’ll also show you how to include it in your routine for optimal usage.
The History of Schisandra Berry:
Native to the forests of Northern China and the Russian Far East, S. chinensis is a deciduous woody vine whose bright red berries have been utilized for millennia in Traditional Chinese Medicine to promote overall health and vitality. Recorded use dates back to the Tang dynasty (618~907 A.D.), where in The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica listed schisandra berries as a superior herb, purported to “prolong the years of life without aging.” It’s use was to improve vitality (Qi), treat fatigue, act as a male sexual tonic, and even treat asthma.
Though schisandra is believed to benefit all functions of the body, it was traditionally considered to have the most influence on the kidneys, lungs and liver. Schisandra berries were frequently pictured in ancient Chinese artwork as the symbol of longevity and beauty, depicting the ability to attain immortality. In the present day, S. chinensis is included in the official pharmacopeias of China, Japan, Korea, and Russia.
The Benefits of Schisandra Berry:
As an adaptogen, schisandra berries help the body cope with stress and maintain homeostasis. Its active compound, schizandrin, has been extensively studied in Asia and found to offer various health benefits, including:
- Liver Support: Animal studies have shown that schisandra berries enhance liver function through healthy glutathione responses, an essential antioxidant for detoxifying the liver and protecting it from damage.
- Skin Protection: Schisandra berries have been used to enhance skin receptor sensitivity, treat early stages of skin rashes, and mitigate allergic skin reactions.
- Adrenal and Endocrine Support: Studies suggest that this super-fruit helps healthy hormone balance, therefore positively impacting mood, the ability to deal with stress, and overall mental well-being.
Cancer-Fighting Agent: Molecular studies confirm that these berries exhibit anti-cancer effects, namely in the form of cell cycle arrest & apoptosis. They also slow the invasion and metastasis in cancer cell lines.
Enhanced Stamina and Endurance: Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners used them to improve physical performance and endurance, which has been supported by modern research conducted in Russia.
- Immune System Support: Schisandra berries are believed to have immune-boosting properties that maintain overall health, likely due to the lignans that constitute the main secondary metabolites of the plant.
- Cognitive Function: Similar studies have concluded that the fruit enhances mental performance, specifically memory, focus, and cognitive function. This is likely attributed to its antioxidant properties that protect brain and other organs.
How do we use Schisandra Berry? We Cold-Brew It
Access to whole, fresh schisandra berries is currently not feasible in the US. There are very few producers cultivating the berry in remote parts of Northern China, but none have a reliable cold distribution chain. Russia is a producer of the raw berry but we cannot buy from them in the United States for obvious geopolitical reasons.
So the way we use this elusive fruit in our juices is by cold-steeping the air-dried berries in purified water. Each time we make our Chill Pill, the schisandra berries steep for 36 hours before the brew is mixed with pineapple, lemon, and the rest of the ingredients. This extraction process captures the majority of the berry's health-promoting compounds while taming its naturally bitter and pungent flavors.
How to Incorporate Schisandra Berry into Your Daily Routine:
Despite its less-than-pleasant taste and difficult-to-acquire nature, incorporating the superfruit into your routine is simple:
- Drink it in juices or smoothies: Chill Pill, one of our best sellers, has roughly 2 ounces worth of schisandra berries per bottle. You can find dried berries or its various extracts online. Blend a small handful up in your smoothie, so long as you mix it with a few other sweeter ingredients.
- Tea: Steep dried berries in hot water for at least 5-10 minutes to make a relaxing tea at night. Make sure you have some lemon and honey to drink it with! We like to steep ours with chamomile since they both have similar effects and steeping times.
- Supplement: Definitely the least fun way to take it, but also the easiest to find and most prevalent. These are pretty easy to find on Amazon.
With a long history in Traditional Chinese Medicine and growing scientific research supporting its potential health benefits, schisandra berries are one of those adaptogens that have become impossible to ignore and definitely worth incorporating into your wellness routine.