How Does Schizandra Work? A TCM Perspective

In last week’s blog, we talked about Schizandra’s many benefits for circulation, longevity and energy support. However, I wanted to do a deeper dive into how Schizandra achieves these benefits, and look at why this herb is so amazing from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective.

Some of you may know that one of the unique things about Schizandra is that it’s the only tonic herb that actually contains all five flavors. That may not sound like a huge deal at first, but in Chinese Medicine each of the five flavors corresponds to an element, which corresponds to an organ system. There are five flavors, five elements, and five major organ systems. So in brief, since Schizandra contains all five flavors, it affects all five organs. This also means that Schizandra directly affects all twelve meridians. This is why many people consider Schizandra one of the most versatile and well rounded herbs out there.

Now that we understand what makes this herb so unique and special, we can get a better idea of how Schizandra works by taking a look at each of the five elements and seeing how Schizandra influences that specific element and that organ system.

How Schizandra Works - The Five Flavors, Organs, and Elements

  • Flavor: Sweet (found in skin of fruit) | Organ: Spleen | Element: Earth

  • The ‘sweet’ flavor is related to the spleen, which is responsible for the intake, processing and shipping out of food and fluids of the body.  It is the organ that is responsible for taking food qi, which is the highest revered qi by Traditional Chinese Medicine, and making it useful to our bodies.  The spleen is also responsible for the manufacturing of blood.

    The Earth element is similarly associated with nourishment, as well as staying grounded and connected.  Schizandra and the sweet element tucked away so seductively in its skin acts to “astringe jing.”  This means that it dries up excess fluids, aiding issues dealing with diarrhea, frequent urination, excess vaginal fluid, premature ejaculation, water weight or excess sweating.

    Schizandra is often used in many blood building and moving formulas, as the spleen is essentially the epicenter of generating qi, blood and other bodily fluids.  The spleen and schizandra act as a perfect pilot and co-pilot in sending nutrients through your heart, out to the four limbs and to the rest of your body.

  • Flavor: Pungent (found in seed) | Organ: Lung | Element: Metal

  • The lungs are the control tower of qi.  The ability to effectively translate air qi helps to disperse it throughout your whole body. Metal is the element of retreat and withdrawal, inducing the reputation of refinement and self-esteem. The lungs are directly connected to the skin and hair, as they are outward indicators of the flow of oxygen throughout your system.  Nourishing one affects the other and vice versa. 

    Schizandra has been used for centuries as a skin and beauty tonic, helping oxygen and moisture circulate through the cells. Schizandra is also utilized for its anti-asthmatic effects, helping to ail wet coughs, wheezing and protecting against inflammation of the bronchial tree.  Its lung astringent quality can be witnessed through a deeper inhale, and also in the movement of oxygen through your cells, making its way out to more radiant hair and skin over time.

  • Flavor: Salty (throughout whole fruit) | Organ: Kidney | Element: Water

  • The kidneys are the root and reservoir of all the body’s energy and qi. Strong and healthy kidney function leads to a healthy and long life.  All fluids pass through the kidneys, and since Schizandra is both an astringent and a demulcent, it helps to balance these fluids, taking stress off of the kidneys.  

    The kidneys are the treasure chests of jing, and are responsible for dispersion of jing. Schizandra helps to build water qi in the kidneys, supporting sexual endurance in men, building fluids and sensitivity in women and creating more sexual energy for both parties. Schizandra is well recognized as a powerful herbal aphrodisiac.

  • Flavor: Sour (found in skin) | Organ: Liver | Element: Wood

  • The liver is responsible for preventing the stagnation of qi throughout your internal organs and meridians.  Wood is the element of growth, change and expansion, initiating movement with the will to create and procreate.  The liver governs creative energy, as harboring anger and stress will counteract and desecrate the liver.  

    Schizandra helps to protect you from stress on both the internal systems and emotional forefront.  Schizandra is also known for its liver cleansing properties, containing various lignans that help to prevent liver damage, stimulate liver repair and enact normal liver function.  Liver energy is stored in the genital organs, and schizandra is not only a powerful liver antioxidant, but also used avidly as a sexual tonic.

  • Flavor: Bitter (found in seed) | Organ: Heart | Element: Fire

  • The heart is the residence of Shen, which is one of the three treasures, and the spiritual aspect of a human being.  In other words, it harbors the mind within your heart, as it does your heart within your mind. Shen can be seen through the quality of our thoughts and the function of our minds. 

    Schizandra has been taken for mental clarity and agility, shown to improve concentration and induce a wakeful focus without the stimulant effects.  As the element of fire helps to bring your being into full-expansion through love and compassion, schizandra has the same effects on Shen.

    My Search For The Best Schizandra

    Now that we understand all the benefits of Schizandra and how it works, it’s easy to see why many people are so excited about it. I personally fell in love with Schizandra from my very first taste over 7 years ago. Ever since then, I’ve been on the hunt for the highest quality, most potent Schizandra products. 

    Over the years I tried every product on the market, ranging from the dried berries, to tinctures, to teas, and to powdered extracts. However, none of these products truly captured the real essence and personality of this amazing herb. None of them delivered on the full magic and potency this herb is capable of.

    After all of these years of searching I feel that I have finally found the product that I have been questing for all of this time. A product which truly encapsulates, communicates, and delivers all of the magic Schizandra is capable of.

    The Best Schizandra & How To Use It

    After experimenting for years with all the different ways to take schizandra, I’ve found the best approach is to take schizandra in the form of a spagyric. Spagyrics are essentially alcohol-based extracts of beneficial herbs.

    The spagyric captures the full experience of Schizandra’s character, because the herb’s integrity, personality and energetic imprint is preserved during the spagyric extraction process. Taking schizandra as a spagyric also ensures high potency, increased bioavailability, and a full spectrum of the herb’s available minerals and properties.

    As an added bonus, my Schizandra and Goji Spagyric also features all the benefits of Goji as well. You are essentially getting the highest quality form of the two most traditionally revered tonics out there.

    The Schizandra and Goji Spagyric is great for:

     -Potent yin tonic

    -Longevity support

    -Neurological/Cognitive Support

    -Calming the heart

    -Quieting the spirit

    -Overall health and rejuvenation

    As for how to use schizandra, traditionally it was recommended to consistently use schizandra for one hundred days. Start slowly, with 1 dropper under the tongue or in a little bit of hot water, 1-3x per day, or as needed. The latter is my favorite way of consumption as the hot water seems to open everything up and allow all of the amazing aromatics and flavor compounds to fully express themselves.

    You can read more about The Schizandra and Goji Spagyric here.


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