The dried ripe fruit of Schisandra
chinensis (Turcz.) Baill or S. sphenanthera, along with Artemisiae
capillaris Thunb and Panax notoginseng, form the constituents of
Schisandra Plus Capsule.
Applications in Traditional Chinese
In TCM pharmacognostics, the Chinese name
for schisandra, the main herb, is wuweizi. It is nontoxic with a
sweet-sour taste and a “warm” property. It is used as an astringent
and is also kidney-tonifying and tranquilizing. It has been used mainly to
treat asthmatic cough, dry mouth, spontaneous or night sweating, nocturnal
emission, chronic diarrhea and dysentery, insomnia, amnesia and
Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill
contains a volatile oil consisting mainly of citral and deoxyschizandrin,
g-schizandrin, wuweizisu C and wuweizi ester A, B. The fruit of S.
chinensis contains schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, g-schizandrin, pseudo-g-schizandrin
and schizandrol. Seven pharmacologically active compounds were isolated
from the ethanol extract of the herb, five of which were identified as
schizandrins A, B and C, and schizandrols A and B. Four new compounds of
lignans—schizandrin C, schizandrol B, schizandrol A and wuweizi ester B—were
also isolated.1 Five lignans—wuweizi esters A, B, C, D and E—and
deoxyschizandrin were isolated from the fruit of S. sphenanthera. 2
The main ingredient of Panax notoginseng is
arasaponin. Artemisiae capillaris Thunb’s active ingredients are beta-pinene,
capillin, capillone and capillene.
A. Liver-Protective Actions
The kernel of S. chinensis (Turcz.) Baill and S. sphenanthera markedly
decreased the elevated ALT (SGPT) of rabbits, rats and mice intoxicated by
carbon tetrachloride (CCl4).3-5 Seven lignan compounds isolated from the
ethanol extract of the kernel lowered the transaminase (ALT and AST)
activity; among the compounds, wuweizi ester B, schizandrol B and
schizandrin C had the strongest action.1, 6
S. sphenanthera fruit has a similar
action.7 Wuweizi esters A, B, C and D all can reduce the level of
transaminase.2 Schizandrin B and wuweizi esters A of S. sphenanthera fruit
inhibited liver damage caused by CCl4, or thioacetamide.8,9
In histochemical studies of CCl4 liver
intoxication, fatty degeneration and mitochondrial changes were milder and
the glycogen content richer in the treated group as compared to the
control. Electron microscopy also showed milder changes in the
hepatocellular endoplasmic reticula and mitochondria in the treatment
group.5,10 Schisandra was able to mitigate the pathological changes
induced by CCl4 in mice, such as the appearance of central necrosis of
liver lobules and decrease of basophilic substances, mitochondria, RNA,
glycogen, acid phosphatase, ATPase, succinic acid dehydrogenase and
monoamine oxidase, as well as the presence of lipid globules.
It is believed that the protective action
of the herb against CCl4-induced liver damage is probably realized through
the promotion of liver-cell protein anabolism, thereby facilitating the
recovery of mitochondria.11 The water, protein, RNA and total lipid
contents per gram of liver in the normal mouse were not significantly
altered by schizandrin B, but their amounts in the whole liver were
markedly increased. Schizandrin B could markedly promote regeneration,
protein anabolism and nucleic acid synthesis of the partially sectioned
liver. Liver microsomal cytochrome P-450 was greatly increased, suggesting
the presence of enzyme induction. Therefore, the enlargement of the liver
elicited by schizandrin B was not considered a pathological phenomenon,
but was attributed to the hypertrophy of liver cells accompanying enzyme
B. Central Nervous System Action
Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill enhanced the spinal reflex and
shortened its latent period.13 The herb acted directly on the nervous
system and not on the skin receptor or muscle. Studies on the conditioned
reflex proved that it improves differentiation and balance between the
excitatory and inhibitory control of the cerebral cortex. High dosage of
the herb strengthened the positive conditioned reflexes.14 It also
normalizes the EEG waves of fatigued rabbits15 and significantly prolonged
the swimming time of rats.16
This herb can enhance human intellectual
activity to increase work efficiency. Schizandrin at 5-10 mg improves
certain activities requiring concentration, fine coordination, sensitivity
and endurance, as demonstrated in healthy young male adults in the
following experiments: insertion of thread into needle within 5 minutes;
error rate in telegraphic reception and transmission; and long-distance
running.16 The herb improved vision, enlarged the visual field,17 improved
hearing18 and increased the discriminating ability of skin receptors.13
Its action mechanism is attributed to improvement of the function of the
central analyzer in the central nervous system.
C. Other Pharmacological Actions
This herb has adaptogen-like action,
increasing the resistance of the body against nonspecific stimuli.19 Its
decoction significantly stimulated respiration in normal and anesthetized
rabbits and dogs, causing deep and rapid breathing.20 Respiration could
also be stimulated by 5-10 mg of schizandrin.13 The herb induced
vasodilation in animals21 and in human fingers.16 Hypotension was induced
in dogs, cats and rabbits by the intravenous injection of either the
aqueous or alcohol extract.20,22 There were reports claiming that the herb
exerted only a very weak hypotensive action, and that it significantly
increased blood pressure in circulatory failure.23 Hence, it seems to have
a regulatory effect on blood pressure.
The herb promoted the synthesis of glycogen
and glycogenolysis, and enhanced phosphorylation of fructose and glucose
in the brain, liver and muscles.24,25 The glucose tolerance test in
rabbits showed that the herb was able to improve the utilization of
glucose,26 to regulate gastric secretion and promote bile secretion in
dogs with biliary fistulae.13
D. Pharmacological Actions of the Other
A. capillaries has cholagogic (facilitating
bile secretion) and liver-protective effects and has been used for
thousands of years in TCM for liver and gall bladder problems. P
notoginseng improves blood circulation, increases blood supply to the
heart, reduces inflammation, and lowers liver enzyme levels and blood
lipids. Both herbs have potent liver-protective and anti-fibrosis effects.
Together they can play an important role to reduce liver-cell inflammation
and necrosis, and prevent liver fibrosis.27
The toxicity of wuweizi is low; oral
administration of 5 g/kg to mice did not result in death.23 The ethanol
extract given to mice by mouth at the dose of 0.6 or 1.2 g/kg for 10 days
resulted in only mild toxic effects, such as decrease in activity.28
Schizandrin B was less toxic; a single oral
dose of 2 g/kg to 10 rats was not fatal. Oral dosing of 200 mg/kg for 30
days caused no significant effect on growth, hemoglobin or histology of
the major organs of mice. Schizandrin B given orally to dogs at 10 mg/kg
daily for 4 weeks did not alter appetite, body weight, blood counts, or
liver and kidney functions.8
Clinical Studies in China
The following results of clinical studies
done in China are provided here for informational and educational purposes
A. Viral Hepatitis and Drug-Induced
Wuweizi has been extensively used for
treating acute and chronic viral hepatitis and drug-induced liver damage
in China. More than 5000 reported cases of various types of hepatitis have
been treated with its preparations; the short-term effect for lowering ALT
(SGPT) was satisfactory; the total effective rate was 84-97.9%; ALT was
normalized in about 75% of the treated cases. The onset of action was
about 20 days.28 Out of 86 cases with elevated ALT due to medications, 83
cases had normal ALT after 1-4 weeks of treatment with the herb. Enzyme
activity decreased even without discontinuing liver-toxic drugs.29
S. sphenanthera fruit had a similar effect
on ALT.30 Its transaminase-lowering action was shown in hepatitis due to
antimony intoxication.31,32 Increased ALT was seen in 82.4% cases using
antimony alone, whereas only 12.9% of the cases had increased measurements
if S. sphenanthera fruit was used in combination; about 75% of the cases
had improved symptoms along with the lowering of ALT. Reduced hepatomegaly
(enlarged liver) and splenomegaly (enlarged spleen) were reported.33 ALT
tended to rebound when the treatment was discontinued, though subsequent
use of the herb usually reduced ALT again.30,34,35
B. Neurosis and Psychosis
A 40-100% wuweizi tincture at 2.5 ml twice
to thrice daily for a course of two weeks to one month alleviated or
relieved insomnia, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, palpitation and
nocturnal emission.36-38 Of the 73 cases treated, 43 cases were cured
(58.9%), 13 cases (17.8%) were improved, 16 cases9,39 discontinued
treatment, and 1 case (1.3%) showed no effect.36. The herb showed good
therapeutic effects for patients with hallucination, paranoia and
Definite therapeutic effects were obtained
by wuweizi in the treatment of mild spastic paralysis in 2-4 days after
stroke, as well as in cerebellum ataxia and Parkinsons disease.38 Good
effects were also obtained when the herb was used in combination with the
seed of Z. jujuba var. inermis and the root tuber of Pseudostellaria
The herb improved vision in patients with
various eye diseases, as well as in people working night shifts or in dark
Most of the 20 cases of Menieres syndrome
were cured after 4-5 doses of wuweizi used together with the seed of Z.
jujuba var. inermis, the root of Angelica sinensis and the seeded fruit of
Schisandra showed no significant toxicity,
though when the raw herb was used, heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion,
stomachache and decreased appetite occurred in some patients.28 But when
used in combination with the herb’s active ingredient, schisandrin,
these adverse reactions were lessened.
Each capsule contains 350 mg of herbal
extracts and among them, no less than 15 mg of schizandrin C, 50 mg of
arasaponin (active ingredient of Panax notoginseng) and 285 mg extract of
Schisandra chinensis and Artemisiae Capillaris Thunb.
Each bottle contains 90 capsules, enough for one month. Take one capsule
three times a day before meals.
1. Chen YY et al. Scientia Sinica
2. Phytochemistry Department, Chinese
Academy of Medical Sciences. Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica 1979;14(12):746.
3. Bronchitis Research Section, Institute
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4. Ilan DN et al. Journal of Traditional
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5. Guangzhou Air Force Hospital of the
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7. Shanghai Institute of Chinese Matéria
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11. Histo-embryology Department,
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12. Liu CT et al. Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica
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1965;7(4):338 (in Chinese).
14. Jia YR et al. Abstracts of the first
members meeting of the Chinese Society of Physiology 1956:59 (in Chinese).
15. Rurynowicz JR et al. Journal of
Physiology 1962;52(1):122 (in Chinese).
16. Jiangsu College of New Medicine.
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Publishing House, 1977, p. 386 (in Chinese).
17. Zhou EF. Beijing Journal of Traditional
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18. Sorokhtin GN et al.. Materialy k
izucheniiu zhenshchenia i limonnika vyup uz 1955;5:745 (in Russian with
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Medical References 1972(7):32 (in Chinese).
20. Sun K. Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica
21. Trifonovo IT. Akusher Ginekol 1954;4:19
(in Russian with Chinese abstract).
22. Li GC et al. Abstracts of the 1956
Academic Conference of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Vol. 2,
1956, p. 70 (in Chinese).
23. Wu XR et al. Chinese Medical Journal
1955;41(10):959 (in Chinese).
24. Belonosov IS et al. Biokhimiia
1951;16:542 (in Russian with Chinese abstract).
25. Belonosov IS et al. Chemical Abstracts
26. Karaev AI. Chemical Abstracts
27. Ji YB. Pharmacological Action and
Application of Available Composition of TCM. Helongjian Science and
Technology Press, 1994, pp. 105, 513 (in Chinese).
28. Yu HQ. Medical Research Communications
1979(9):23 (in Chinese).
29. Internal Medicine Department, 309th
Hospital of the Chinese PLA. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine
1973(9):18 (in Chinese).
30. Nanjing Region Coordinating Research
Group for the Prevention and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis. Chinese Journal
of Internal Medicine 1976(1):26 (in Chinese).
31. Internal Medicine Department, Nanjing
Centre for Schistosomiasis Control. Chinese Traditional and Herbal Drugs
Communications 1977(3):26 (in Chinese).
32. Staff Hospital of Hengzhou Chemical
Factory. Zhejiang Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1977(5):6 (in
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Department of Beijing Railways Hospital. Journal of Beijing Railways
Hospital 1975(6):21 (in Chinese).
34. Norman Bethune Hospital (internal
information). 1973 (in Chinese).
35. Wang CF et al. Journal of Traditional
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36. He LT. Shanghai Journal of Traditional
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37. Wang XH. Journal of Traditional Chinese
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38. Zatonekaia NV et al. Materialy
kizucheniiu zhenshchenia i limonnika vyup uz 1958: 3,209 (in Russian with
39. Zakusoo VV. Farmakologiia nervnoi
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40. Zhou JF et al. Chinese Journal of
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