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Schisandra: The Five-Flavor Tonic

Famously called the “five-flavor berry” because of the complex mix of the 5 traditional flavors of Chinese Medicine, Schisandra berries are a flavorful and delicious herb that pack a powerful punch. Helping to tone the kidneys, protect the liver, strengthen nervous system function and cleanse the blood, Schisandra is a powerful ally to keep in your apothecary. They’re also an aphrodisiac, making them a fun herb to interact with this Valentine’s Day. Read on for more information about this fascinating herb.

Dried Schisandra Berries

Herb Info

  • Common Name: Schisandra, Wu-wei-zi

  • Latin Name: Schisandra chinensis

  • Family: Schisandraceae 

  • Plant description: Aromatic woody vine with pink flowers and spikes of red berries, native to China

  • Parts used: Ripe berries fresh or dried

  • Precautions/Safety: Large doses can cause heartburn, stomach upset, decreased appetite and skin rash. This herb can interact with some medicines, seek professional advice if on any meds.

Herbal Actions

  • Adaptogen

  • Antibacterial

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Antioxidant

  • Astringent

  • Cardioprotective

  • Cholagogue

  • Expectorant

  • Hepatoprotective

  • Immunomodulator

  • Kidney protective

  • Mood uplifting

  • Nerve tonic

  • Sedative

Medicinal Benefits of Schisandra

Schisandra is an excellent tonic and restorative herb and is great to take during stressful, high-pressure times. A mild antidepressant, this herb improves nervous irritability and forgetfulness and can help with stress and fatigue. They also help to increase stamina and improve the speed of reflexes. A great herb for the mind, Schisandra can also improve mental clarity, concentration and coordination and help with forgetfulness and irritability.

A nutritive and immune enhancing tonic, Michael Tierra notes that this herb is a great ally for wasting and thirsting diseases.

Fresh Schisandra berries growing on a vine.

This herb is also famous for being a sexual tonic that enhances one’s zest for life. They also help to increase the secretion of sexual fluids and improve sexual stamina. Schisandra also tones and strengthens the kidneys and helps the body balance its fluid levels. This makes this herb helpful for night sweats, thirst and urinary frequency.

A powerful liver herb, Schisandra helps to protect and restore the liver and can be useful for Hepatitis and poor liver function. They can also aid with skin conditions including hives and Eczema, helping to remove toxins from the body to keep the skin from getting overwhelmed.

Beyond the liver, Schisandra is a great ally for our digestive system in general. They can help with diarrhea and dysentery, as well as chronic gastritis. This herb stimulates salivation and helps regulate gastric secretion, whether someone is struggling with too much or too little secretion in their digestive tract. 

This herb also has an affinity for the respiratory system and can be helpful for chronic coughs, shortness of breath and weezing. Considered a lung tonic, Schisandra can help to strengthen one’s respiratory system over time. Dr. Sharol Marie Tilgner indicates that this herb is helpful in general for deficient conditions that lead to chronic, dry coughs and wheezing.

Good for allergies and infections, Schisandra is supportive of our immune system and can even help with wound healing and soothing allergic dermatitis. This herb is a great ally for people with environmental sensitivities and can even protect us from oxidizing substances and radiation.

Fresh Schisandra berries with leaves.

Medicine Making with Schisandra

Whenever making a tea with the tougher parts of a plant (berries, roots or bark) it is best to make a decoction to extract more of the medicinal compounds in the herb. As Schisandra berries are the parts used for this plant, it is better to make a decoction than a standard infusion so that your tea will pack more of a punch. For instructions on how to brew a standard decoction, please refer to our blog post about Eleuthero.

Herbal Apprentice Program

If you're interested in learning more about herbs, anatomy, and how to live a healthy and vitalizing life, Artemisia Academy’s Herbal Apprentice Program might be perfect for you. This program is full of great herbal information and guides you to learn how to be a healed healer to help yourself, your family and friends.

Sources Used

About the Author

Alicia Cielle Heiser is an Astrologer, Herbalist and student at Artemisia Academy. Her work centers on facilitating a greater understanding of the cyclical nature of the world and the ways that we as humans fit within the greater whole. She is writing a series of materia medica blog posts for Artemisia to make the wisdom and knowledge of herbal medicine more available to more people. Alicia also has a podcast called Conversations with the Planets and she offers herbal astrology readings and crafts personalized herbal tea blends. You can find her at 


Disclaimer: Information presented on this webpage is for educational purposes only, and does not include the diagnosis and treatment of disease nor replace the advice of a licensed physician. Please refer to a licensed health professional for any illness or persistent symptoms before using herbal remedies.

Herbs can sometimes cause discomfort or side effects, and may interact adversely with pharmaceutical medications. Do not use herbs internally without the approval of a doctor or medical professional if you are currently on medications or have a history of medical conditions.


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