October 29, 2019
We're talking about Schizandra Berry.
The Chinese name for Schizandra is ‘Wu Wei Zi’ which translates to 5-flavour fruit. Why? The herb has all the 5 flavours of sour, sweet, salty, bitter and pungent.
Flavours in Chinese medicine are said to affect different elements and their corresponding organ systems, giving Schizandra a wide range of effects. In Daoist Chinese herbalism, Schizandra is known as one of the supreme tonic herbs, revered for their beneficial effects on the body and having long-term safety.
Let’s look at why it’s so helpful for cases of Iron toxicity.
First off, when dealing with iron excess, and most other things, it is best to address it from multiple different areas.
As outlined in the 5 steps to lowering iron in this article
1. Blood letting
2. Iron chelators
3. Inhibiting/reducing iron absorption from foods
4. Reducing iron consumption
5. Supporting and repairing the affected organs and systems
Schizandra does a pretty good job at 3 and 5 and for this reason makes it a great addition to your iron removal protocol.
Inhibiting/reducing iron absorption from foods
Schizandra contains polyphenols, which as we know (click here if you don’t) inhibit iron absorption from foods. For this effect Schizandra should be included with foods, ideally your highest iron meal for the day, to reduce iron absorption.
How to include it in food?
· Sip on it as a warm tea with meals
· Smash it up with some avocado and olive oil
· As part of a smoothie
· Sprinkle ½ a teaspoon over your meal and see how it tastes
· Boil up some berries with your broth and infuse in the flavour of the herb
Concerned about having too little iron but still want all the benefits of Schizandra? Simply have this separate from your high iron meals.
Where it shines
Schizandra does a great job at supporting and repairing many organ systems, including some of those affected in iron toxicity (liver, brain and heart). For these benefits, consume Schizandra at any time of the day, with or without food.
In Western Herbalism, Schizandra is primarily taught to be a herb for the liver (though it is much more versatile than that).
Schizandra increases the liver’s production of Glutathione, the master antioxidant of the body. Increased glutathione means more protection against damaging substances, like iron. Animal studies have also shown that Schizandra is able to accelerate liver regeneration.
Cardiovascular and brain support
Schizandra has also been shown to increase the heart’s glutathione levels and has protective effects on heart cells while a constituent of Schizandra was also studied to improve antioxidant status in cerebral tissue, thus providing brain protection.
Improve blood sugar
Excess iron damages the pancreas and leads to insulin resistance, meaning higher blood sugar and all the fun things (they’re not actually fun) that come along with that. Schizandra was shown to increase glucose entry to liver cells, thus lowering blood glucose and having the potential to mitigate some of the downstream effects.
To summarise, Schizandra is a great herb to include in your iron removal protocol, though is by no means a complete protocol by itself. The best way to take this herb is alongside your iron containing meal, to lower absorption, but if that ain’t convenient for you it’s all good. Taking it at any time will assist in supporting the organs.
Enjoy it as a tea and taste all the 5 flavours or opt for a capsule if that’s not your thing. Alternatively, you can be like me and just put a ¼ tsp of the powder in your mouth and experience the flavour range.
You can go buy whole dried berries to use, or go for a powdered extract, by far my favourite way to enjoy the herb. I’ve been using SuperFeast’s Schizandra and really enjoying it.