Schisandra berries are a fun herbal ingredient to have on hand if you like making herbal potions at home. This herb’s common name, Five-Flavor Berry, comes from its complex taste profile. This adaptogenic herb is a little sweet, a little salty, a little bitter, a little pungent, and a little sour all in one!
Some herbs don’t taste great. However, this one is great in fruity, sweet, or savory recipes. I’ve included a few ideas at the end for inspiration. Like many herbs, it has a variety of potential uses. However, I like it best because it supports immunity and the mind.
What are Schisandra berries?
Schisandra berries are the fruit of Schisandra chinensis, a vining plant native to parts of China, Russia, and Korea. Other names for the vine include Wu-Wei-Zi and Magnolia vine. In traditional and modern herbalism, this plant is an astringent, nervine, nootropic, and adaptogen.
How are the berries used?
Use Schisandra when you want an adaptogen with an affinity for the central nervous system. Schisandra may regulate the nervous system by calming overstimulation and increasing alertness and reflexes. Find the dried berries through herbal suppliers.
To make a cup of tea, use 1-2 tsp of dried berries per 10 oz of water (Winston, 2019). Dried berries are traditionally prepared as a decoction. Simmer them for ten minutes in a small saucepan, then allow them to steep for 30 minutes. I like to make several servings at once and store the extra in the refrigerator.
Extracts are another good option for working with this herb. Schisandra has a distinctive taste, but I find it easy to include the extract in mocktail recipes.
Schisandra berry health benefits
Adaptogens, of course, support our resiliency to stress. This includes aspects of immunity, mood, and physical well-being. Traditional uses of Schisandra also include respiratory health and as an astringent for the urinary tract. Many modern health benefits of Schisandra berries align with traditional uses, including:
- an astringent to control night sweats
- a tonic for the lungs
- protecting liver health
- supporting healthy immune function
Precautions and considerations for use
Individual reactions to an herb are always possible, but none of my herbal reference books listed any precautions. However, because of the way it supports the liver, this herb may interfere with the metabolism of certain medications.
Recipe ideas for Schisandra berries
If you’re ready to try out some recipes, here are a few you might like!
Elderberry syrup with Schisandra berries here on Teacup Alchemy
Sparkling strawberry punch over at My Korean Kitchen
Adaptogenic hot cocoa recipe on My Tiny Laguna Kitchen
Midnight Milk on Hello Glow
The Midnight Milk recipe is also one of my recipes! It’s from my book, The Complete Guide to Adaptogens.
Winston, D. (2019) Adaptogens: Herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Healing Arts Press.
Yance, D. (2013). Adaptogens in medical herbalism. Healing Arts Press.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, (2022). Schisandra: Purported benefits, side effects, and more. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/schisandra