The plant Schisandra chinensis produces a red berry that has some remarkable effects on human disease and health. It has been used in China for thousands of years to treat conditions such as respiratory failure, gastrointestinal disorders, fatigue, cardiovascular diseases, excessive sweating, and insomnia. Many have also used Schisandra as a tonic to increase vitality.
Recent studies have found a number of complex chemical compounds in Schisandra that have beneficial medicinal effects, one of the most important being that it stimulates production of glutathione — one of the body’s most important antioxidant and detoxifying compounds — within cells. This probably explains its powerful protection of the liver.
By increasing antioxidant levels in cells of all types, it also protects the heart.
Other studies have shown that Schisandra has powerful benefits against leukemia cells, colon adenocarcinoma cells, and similar cancers. One of these properties is its ability to stimulate anticancer immunity.
Extracts from the fruit of the plant have been shown to reduce fatigue and improve memory, learning, concentration, alertness, and overall mental performance. It has also shown antidepressant benefits, and there is some evidence that it can aid insomnia.
Other uses of Schisandra include reduction in fat cell production, reduction of the severity of asthma attacks, reduction of coughing, improvement of a number of cardiovascular functions, antiviral and antibacterial effects, and when used in cosmetics, it may strengthen the skin’s natural barriers, stimulate wound healing, improve skin toning, and moisturize the skin.
One study found that Schisandra stimulates protein synthesis in muscles and could be used to reverse muscle atrophy, especially the type seen with aging and lack of exercise.
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