Schizandra: one of the best
If every person who has come to see me for an herbal consultation convened and compared herbal recommendations, about 80 percent of them would discover that they are taking the same herb. That herb is called schizandra (also spelled “schisandra”). It’s not that I’m lazy and dole out schizandra like peanuts at a carnival. It’s that schizandra is such an all-encompassing berry. Without exception, it adapts itself to so many health concerns that, in China, schizandra is known as a “superior herb” and one that nourishes all the functions of the body. This prized fruit is another one of the “adaptogen” herbs I’ve written about in past columns. To refresh your herbal memory, an adaptogen is a plant that gradually brings the body back into a healthy balance. In essence, adaptogens modulate, calm, energize and regulate the glands, organs, hormones, sexual function, and nervous and pulmonary systems in relationship to the intricate signals the various transmitters receive. Adaptogens clearly understand the mind-boggling minutia within the human body and how those complex actions and reactions work together to maintain optimum well-being. Since health imbalances did not occur overnight, adaptogens, such as schizandra, must be taken consistently over a long period of time. In the case of schizandra, the herb must be faithfully taken every day for at least 100 days before you will see the profound benefits. That’s not to say that you won’t benefit from this berry’s powerful presence in your system before that magic 100 day mark. It’s just that schizandra’s true ability is felt to the core by day 100, and well after that. Yes, schizandra is an herb you can take every day for the rest of your life. Its tonic nature allows schizandra to consistently feed and nourish the body from childhood through old age. Let’s get to the bevy of beautiful things schizandra can do for you:Mind tonicResearch shows that schizandra can “enhance intellectual activity and work efficiency.” Moderate doses have improved daily tasks that require heightened concentration, calm introspection, increased alertness, fine coordination, sensitivity and endurance. As one writer put it, “Schizandra’s efficacy in these areas ranges from threading needles to running marathons.” Skin sootherThe Chinese revere schizandra for its ability to create “radiantly beautiful skin.” For thousands of years, schizandra has been proven to rejuvenate and slow down the signs of aging. Used long term, schizandra not only produces gorgeous skin, it also helps protect skin from the damaging effects of sun and wind. Liver protectorOne of the reasons I love schizandra is that it is a reliable and gentle liver cleanser and protector. So many liver detoxifying herbs unload toxins into the bloodstream but then create “a healing crisis” (i.e., an overload of bioactivated toxins that stress the body as they slowly leave the system.) Schizandra boosts the detoxifying period and enhances the secondary clearance phase, allowing for little or less reactive toxic effects. Schizandra has also been shown to reduce elevated SGPT in patients with chronic hepatitis. In fact, schizandra is regarded in China as one of the first lines of herbal defense for those with hepatitis. Aphrodisiac qualitiesNow I’ve got you interested. Schizandra encourages this much-sought-after physical/mental effect via the herb’s strong influence on the kidneys. In Chinese medicine, the kidneys are connected with sexual desire and the “great reservoir of energy” known as jing. Jing is one’s essence. Jing determines one’s life span and, ultimately, the health and continued vitality throughout life. Sexual activity (especially in men) tends to drain jing. Chronic and acute stress, excessive emotionalism, drug abuse, chronic illness, pregnancy, excessive menstrual patterns, overwork and childbirth also dramatically deplete jing. If jing is not replenished via tonic herbs that support the kidneys (the main storage area for jing,) a person will eventually feel a penetrating weakness in the core, which will affect the quality of life.How does schizandra juice up your jing in regard to sexuality? It is thought that schizandra vastly increases the water qi (vitality) in the kidneys and, therefore, increases the “water of the genital organs.” That’s old-school Chinese terminology for sexual fluids. Schizandra promotes the production of semen and prevents premature ejaculation. Men who swear by schizandra (and millions do) will tell you that this quintessential berry relieves sexual fatigue and increases staying power. For women, schizandra is a classic sexual tonic. Continual use of schizandra will encourage more vaginal secretions during intercourse. It gets better. Women who consume schizandra on a daily basis report more genital warmth and intense sensations during intercourse. I imagine this fact alone will clear the shelves of every bottle of schizandra! Enhances spiritual powersTaoists routinely used schizandra due to its “life-strengthening powers.” This mind and spiritual strengthening enabled them to reach higher levels of mediation and profound revelations. Given schizandra’s potent calming abilities, I would say that the Taoists weren’t imagining what they were experiencing. Schizandra obviously can be taken by itself. However, there is a classic combo of schizandra and lycium berry that deserves mention. These two herbs compliment each other beautifully and potentiate the anti-aging, skin-soothing, libido-enhancing, mind tonic effects that each herb shares. In order to benefit from schizandra (either alone or in combination), it’s imperative to purchase a high-quality product. Older, shriveled berries will do nothing for you. I purchase my schizandra and the above-mentioned schizandra-lycium combo from Dragon Herbs in Los Angeles, whose attention to quality is superb. The toll-free number is (888) 55-TONIC.A good daily dose of schizandra is between 1,500 to 2,000 milligrams. There are no known side effects or contraindications with schizandra. From my perspective, there are only untold benefits from this phenomenal herb that I will tout for many years to come. E-mail your questions to The Humorous Herbalist at firstname.lastname@example.org. The information in this column is not meant to take the place of your physician, nor is it intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe. Pregnant or nursing women should consult their doctor before using herbal therapy. The information in this column is not meant to take the place of your physician, nor is it intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe. Pregnant or nursing women should consult their doctor before using herbal therapy.
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