We are all acquainted with the “super berries” on the market today and their association with radiant skin health. Blueberries, acai berry and even goji berry all contain high levels of skin affirming antioxidants, phytonutrients and vitamin compounds. Now there’s a new berry on the block you may not have heard of — schizandra.
Schizandra Berry (Schisandra Chinensis), also known as Wu Wei Zi, Youth Berry, or Magnolia Vine, grows from a deciduous woody viney plant native to China, Manchuria and part of Russia. This scarlet red medicinal berry has been used in traditional Chinese herbalism for more than 2,000 years, donning a variety of fantastic benefits. Modern research on this magic berry has shown it to be a safe and time tested “superherb” used to keep organ systems toned and skin more resilient to signs of aging. Sometimes referred to as the “five flavor berry”, it has a unique taste profile that is sour/astringent, sweet, bitter, salty and pungent all at once. Chinese herbalism sees schizandra as a balancer of all the energy meridians in the body, tonifying the three treasures of life force, and nourishing the five elemental energies of wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
This berry is even more interesting because it belongs to a class of herbs known as “adaptogenic herbs” or “superherbs.” Adaptogenic substances possess the following essential qualifying criteria:
- – Non toxic regardless of dosage
- Safe for daily use – A naturally occurring substance
- Have an anti-stress response
- Have a balancing effect on the body’s organ systems, promoting homeostasis
- They have a dual directional response on the body, meaning that they do not have only one specific function. Dual directional function enables it to change what it does based on what it brings to the body for it’s state of greatest optimum functioning and homeostasis.
SCHIZANDRA BERRY MEETS ALL OF THE ABOVE CRITERIA!
Consider a few of the key benefits associated with this potent superherb class berry:
Cleanses the Liver
We are exposed to toxins and pollutants on a daily basis, which we must process. We ingest unnatural chemicals in food and water, and end up storing heavy metals or metabolizing synthetic drugs and alcohol. The amount of exposure we undergo and the efficiency in which these toxins are processed has a significant impact on the health and quality of our skin. Our liver is one of the primary organs used by the body to detoxify foreign pollutants that make their way in. Taken daily, schizandra can protect the liver from harmful toxin buildup. Schizandra is safe for daily use, even for people with sensitive digestive systems and a low tolerance to supplements.
Cleanses the Blood
Schizandra has a unique capacity to not only cleanse the liver of toxins, but also to cleanse the blood once the waste from the liver has been removed. Some liver detox formulas put the user into a state of toxic overload as the body is cleansing itself (known as a Herxheimer Reaction), which comes with symptoms ranging from headache, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms. The bloodstream receives a tune up with this superherb, allowing for nutrients to flow more readily to organs and skin throughout the body.
Promotes Beautiful Skin
Packed with loads of antioxidants including key vitamins C and E, schizandra is a great superherb for skin wellness and protection. Schizandra’s strong astringent qualities enable the skin to hold in moisture for more fullness and beauty. It has always been popular amongst wealthy individuals in China, due to its ability to preserve youth in both physiology and appearance. The superherb has shown efficacy through countless dynasties, wherein the skin is said to glow, becoming clearer and finer after one imbibes it consistently for several months. Schizandra may also protect against UVB induced skin damage, and is still used as an important botanical in many Eastern skin formulas.
Like many herbs in the adaptogenic category, schizandra may support adrenal function by maintaining normalized levels of hormones in the body. Experiments done with adaptogenic herbs have shown notable reduction of cortisol levels due to the stress protective qualities of these herbs. With the strong correlation between one’s stress hormone levels and their capacity to deal with aging more efficiently, lowering stress is helpful for maintaining skin health. Furthermore, research has shown that schizandra helps slow the process of oxidative stress, which contributes to nearly every disease there is and results in the maintenance of healthy cells, tissues and organs.
High concentrations of antioxidant compounds allow schizandra to fight off free radical damage and lower inflammation response. Schizandra also has the capacity to improve and repair tissue via its ability to release leukocytes, which are anti-inflammatory.
Quality sources for high grade schizandra include dragon herbs, surthrival, Lost Empire Herbs and jing herbs.
BRAIN BONUS! Schizandra is also noted to improve mental clarity and focus in addition to increasing levels of bio-available energy, promoting feelings of calm and fighting off fatigue.
HOW TO USE
So, what is the best method to incorporate this little berry powerhouse into a diet tailored to achieve healthier skin and overall system health? Administration can take various forms. One can ingest it as a tincture, mix the powdered or fruit extract form in water, take it as an encapsulated supplement or drink it in a tea or tonic. As a true adaptogenic superherb, only one to three grams of the dried berry are necessary per day!
The recipe below is perfect for those who are sensitive to pungent tastes. It can be enjoyed at room temperature or warm:
- 8-12 oz. water
- ¼ -1/2 teaspoon schizandra berry powder
- Sweetener of your choice (optional)
Combine the ingredients above and then add in supportive herbs of your choice (ginger, lemon, goji powder, noni, turmeric, etc.). Stir and serve to your clients.
Urge your clients to take the challenge of taking schizandra for 100 days to upgrade their physiology!
Note: As with most herbs, one should not imbibe schizandra during pregnancy or when nursing.
Don’t miss Erik’s workshop on Superfoods & Superherbs: Why they’re great for your skin at next month’s Spa + Wellness Summit on april 1-3 at The Sheraton Arlington Hotel in Dallas, Texas. The show is co-hosted with The International Congress of Esthetics and Spa. Visit LNEonline.Com for more information and for the complete Spa + Wellness Summit program.