Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill.

Last updated: 23 August 2016

Scientific Name

Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill.  


Kadsura chinensis Turcz., Maximowiczia amurensis Rupr., Maximowiczia chinensis (Turcz.) Rupr., Maximowiczia japonica (A.Gray) K.Koch, Maximowiczia sinensis Rob., Schisandra viridicarpa Y.N.Lee [Invalid], Sphaerostema japonicum A.Gray [1]

Vernacular Name

English Chinese magnolia vine, five flavours fruit, schisandra [2]
China Wu wei tzu, wu wei zi [2]
Vietnam ngu vi tu [3]
Korea Omidza [3]
Japan Hure-hat, repnihat-punkar [2], chosen-gomishi [3]
Russia лимонник китайский [limonnik kitajskij] [3].

Geographical Distributions

Schisandra chinensis is naturally distributed in Russia (Amur region, Sakhalin), North Korea, and Japan. Cultivation also has occurs in the places including North China and Korea. [3]

Botanical Description

S. chinensis is a member of the family Schisandraceae [1]. It is a deciduous woody climbing plant that can grow up to 8 m with brown branchlets. [4]

The leaves are simple, altenate, measure 5-11 cm long and 3-7 cm wide, oval, wide reversed oval or wide and elliptical shape with extremely sharp tips and a wedged base. The leaf margins is grandular serrulate and no hair on the surface. [4]

The flowers are unisex, usually dioecious than monoecious, solitary or in clustering axillae with 6-9 milky white or pink tepals. There are 5 stamens and anthers cluster on the top of cylindrical receptacle. The female flower has 17-40 carpels and the receptacles prolong after flowering. [4]

The fruits are aggregate like spike when ripe. [4]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

Petroleum ether extract of S. chinensis fruits has been reported to contain schizandrin and dibenzocyclooctane lignans (e.g. gomisin A, gomisin B, gomisin C, gomisin F gomisin G). [5] 

Natural oil of S. chinensis seeds has been reported to contain triterpenic acids, triterpenic lactones, essential oil, citric acid, and vitamins C and E. [6]

Plant Part Used

Seeds, fruits [3]

Traditional Use

S. chinensis has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries as a kidney tonifying agent and sedative. It has historically been used to treat cough and wheezing, spontaneous sweating, chronic diarrhea, insomnia, and forgetfulness [7]. In Russia, schisandra has been used as an adaptogen, increasing the body’s natural ability to fight off disease and stresses from chemical, physical, mental and environmental sources [8]. 

Preclinical Data


Hepatoprotective activity

Schisandra and its lignans have been reported to prevent liver damage, stimulate liver repair and stimulate normal liver function. A lignin namely gomisin A isolated from S. chinensis fruits acetaminophen (AAP), carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced liver injury in rats through the suppression of lipid peroxidation, decreased the bile flow and biliary outputs of total bile acids and electrolytes (Na+, K+, Cl- and HCO3-), by protecting the hepatocyte plasma membrane rather than the inhibiting the antibody formation and complement activity and thought to be related to the antioxidant ability of the schisandrins, stimulation of liver glycogen synthesis, protein synthesis, protection of hepatocyte cell membranes and inhibition of CYP3A-mediated liver microsomal drug-metabolizing enzyme activities [9][10][11][12][13]. Oral administration of the gomisin A also showed antipromoter effect of deoxycholic acid (DCA) which is an endogenous risk factor for hepatocarcinogenesis by improving its metabolism of bile acids [14]. In addition, gomisin A was also reported in laboratory animals study on liver regeneration following partial hepatectomy [15].

Dibenzo[a,c]cyclooctene derivatives isolated from S. chinensis fruits showed hepatoprotective activity against carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced hepatotoxicity in mice [16]. S. chinensis reportedly reduced elevated serum glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (SGPT) levels in various types of hepatitis [17].

S. chinensis was reported to increase Phase II enzymes responsible in detoxification in the liver. [18] 

Antiinflammatory activity

S. chinensis is also reported in laboratory studies to have anti-inflammatory activity, decreasing the release of proinflammatory cytokines including TNF-alpha, IL-6 and GM-CSF. [18] 

Anticancer activity


Gomisin A has been reported to provide a strong inhibitory effect on skin and liver tumor promotion in laboratory animals due to its anti-inflammatory activity [19]. Wuweizisu C isolated from S. chinensis also showed antitumour activity by decreased the membrane potential in C6 glioma cells in a concentration-dependent manner [20]. 


Schizandrin isolated from S. chinensis fruits showed exhibited growth inhibitory activities in cultured human breast cancer cells by inhibited cell proliferation through the induction of cell cycle arrest with modulating cell cycle-related proteins in the cancer cell. [21]


An isolated ligands namely schisandrin from S. chinensis showed anticancer activity in human leukemia U937 cells by phase G1 induced cancer cell cycle arrest and induce apoptosis through down-regulation of anti-apoptic proteins, proteolytic activity and inhibition of caspase-3. [22] 

Antioxidant and cardioprotective activities

S. chinensis was reported to have a cardioprotective action during administration of Adriamycin (doxorubicin). [23]

Anti-HIV activity

S. chinensis also has anti-HIV activity as reported in laboratory studies. Because it is thought to inhibit the cytopathic effects of HIV-1 on human T cells, schisandra is being studied as an adjunct in the treatment of patients with HIV infection. [24]

Learning ability activity

S. chinensis has been reported to increase human endurance and mental and physical performance. [25]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

S. chinensis lignans have been claimed to improve mental efficiency, sensitivity of sight and hearing, increased speed of adaptation to the dark, enlarged the visual field and increased the discrimination of skin receptors. [26] 

A human study of 23 healthy volunteers with Hepatitis B found that taking a proprietary S. chinensis extract (KY88) resulted in a significant reduction in circulating monocytes after 2 weeks of therapy. [27]


No documentation.

Side effects

No documentation.

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Based on animal data, do not use in pregnancy. [28]

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Corticosteroid medications

A human case report found that schisandra fruit may offset the effects of these medications and possibly the dose needed for treatment. Use with caution. [7] These drugs include prednisone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone, prednisolone, betamethasone, budesonide, triamcinolone, dexamethasone, cortisone, beclomethasone, flunisolide, fluticasone, fludrocortisone, mometasone


A human case report found that schisandra fruit may enhance the effects of reserpine and possibly the dose needed for treatment. Use with caution. [7]

Drugs metabolized by the cytochrome P-450 pathway

S. chinensis may affect the breakdown of drugs metabolized by the cytochrome P-450 pathway in the body, which may alter the effects of these medications and possibly the dose needed for treatment. Use with caution [7][[11][12]. Schisandra is reported to inhibit CYP3A-mediated metabolism and inhibit P-glycoprotein expression and function [13][29].

Chemotherapy drugs

S. chinensis has been reported in laboratory studies to inhibit P-glycoprotein-mediated multidrug resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapy drugs. [29][30]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


No documentation.

Case Report

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 26; cited 2016 May 11]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume V R-Z. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 185.
  3. Mansfeld's World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops. Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2016 May 18] Available from:,mf_use,source,akzanz,rehm,akzname,taxid:mf,,botnam,0,,Schisandra%20chinensis,6409
  4. Ko KM, Yin J, Qin C. Schisandra chinensis: An herb of North Eastern China Origin. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2015; p. 2.
  5. Ikeya Y, Taguchi H, Yosioka I, Kobayashi H. The constituents of Schizandra chinensis Baill. I. Isolation and structure determination of five new lignans, Gomisin A, B, C, F and G, and the absolute structure of Schizandrin. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1979;27(6):1383-1394.
  6. Zapotil'ko FT, Solomko EF. [Study of the natural oil from the seed of Schisandra]. Farm Zh. 1976;31(3):79-81. Ukrainian
  7. Liu GT. pharmacological actions and clinical use of fructus schizandrae. Chin Med J.(Engl). 1989;102(10):740-749.
  8. Suprunov NI, Vetlugina IV. Determination and study of lignan distribution in the fruits of Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill. Farmatsiia. 1972;21(3):34-37.
  9. Maeda S, Takeda S, Miyamoto Y, Aburada M, Harada M. Effects of gomisin A on liver functions in hepatotoxic chemicals-treated rats. Jpn J Pharmacol. 1985;38(4): 347-353.
  10. Shiota G, Yamada S, Kawasaki H. Rapid induction of hepatocyte growth factor mRNA after administration of gomisin A, a lignan component of shizandra fruits. Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. 1996;94(2):141-146.
  11. Yamada S, Murawaki Y, Kawasaki H. Preventive effect of gomisin A, a lignan component of shizandra fruits, on acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Biochem Pharmacol. 1993;46(6):1081-1085.
  12. Nagai H, Yakuo I, Aoki M, et al. The effect of gomisin A on immunologic liver injury in mice. Planta Med. 1989;55(1):13-17.
  13. Qin XL, Bi HC, Wang XD, et al. Mechanistic understanding of the different effects of Wuzhi Tablet (Schisandra sphenanthera extract) on the absorption and first-pass intestinal and hepatic metabolism of Tacrolimus (FK506). Int J Pharm. 2010;389(1-2):114-121.
  14. Ohtaki Y, Hida T, Hiramatsu K, et al. Deoxycholic acid as an endogenous risk factor for hepatocarcinogenesis and effects of gomisin A, a lignan component of Schizandra fruits. Anticancer Res. 1996;16(2):751-55.
  15. Kubo S, Ohkura Y, Mizoguchi Y, et al. Effect of gomisin A (TJN-101) on liver regeneration. Planta Med. 1992;58(6):489-92.
  16. Liu KT, Lesca P. Pharmacological properties of Dibenzo[a,c]cyclooctene derivatives isolated from fructus Schizandrae chinensis III. Inhibitory effects on carbon tetrachloride-induced lipid peroxidation, metabolism and covalent binding of carbon tetrachloride to lipids. Chem Biol Interact. 1982;41(1):39-47.
  17. Li Y. Bioactivity of neolignans from fructus Schizandrae. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1991;86(Supp 2):31-37.
  18. Kang OH, Chae HS, Choi JH, et al. Effects of the Schisandra fructus water extract on cytokine release from a human mast cell line. J Med Food. Winter 2006;9(4):480-486.
  19. Yasukawa K, Ikeya Y, Mitsuhashi H, et al. Gomisin A inhibits tumor promotion by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate in two-stage carcinogenesis in mouse skin. Oncology. 1992;49(1):68-71.
  20. Choi YW, Kim K, Jo JY, et al. Wuweizisu C from Schisandrachinensis decreases membrane potential in C6 glioma cells. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2008;29(9):1006-1012.
  21. Kim SJ, Min HY, Lee EJ, et al. Growth inhibition and cell cycle arrest in the G0/G1 by schizandrin, a dibenzocyclooctadiene lignan isolated from Schisandrachinensis, on T47D human breast cancer cells. Phytother Res. 2010;24(2):193-197.
  22. Park C, Choi YW, Hyun SK, et al. Induction of G1 arrest and apoptosis by schisandrin C isolated from Schizandrachinensis Baill in human leukemia U937 cells. Int J Mol Med. 2009;24(4):495-502.
  23. Lin TJ. [Antioxidation mechanism of schizandrin and tanshinonatic acid A and their effects on the protection of cardiotoxic action of adriamycin]. Shen Li Ko Hsueh Chin Chan. 1991;22(4):342-45. Chinese.
  24. Fujihashi T, Hara H, Sakata T, et al. Anti-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) activities of halogenated gomisin J derivatives, new nonnucleoside inhibitors of HIV type 1 reverse transcriptase. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1995;39(9):2000-2007.
  25. Nishiyama N, Chu PJ, Saito H. An herbal prescription, s-113m, consisting of biota, ginseng and schizandra, improves learning performance in senescence accelerated mouse. Biol Pharm Bull. 1996;19(3):388-393.
  26. Bone K. Clinical applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs: Monographs for the Western practitioner. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1997; p. 69-74.
  27. Yip AY, Loo WT, Chow LW. Fructus Schisandrae (Wuweizi) containing compound in modulating human lymphatic system - a Phase I minimization clinical trial. Biomed Pharmacother. 2007;61(9):588-590.
  28. Upton R. Schisandra Berry: Analytical, quality contol, and therapeutic monograph. Santa Cruz, CA: American Herbal Pharmacopoeia; 1999.
  29. Huang M, Jin J, Sun H, Liu GT. Reversal of P-glycoprotein-mediated multidrug resistance of cancer cells by five schizandrins isolated from the Chinese herb Fructus Schizandrae. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol.  2008;62(6):1015-1026.
  30. Yoo HH, Lee M, Lee MW, Lim SY, Shin J, Kim DH. Effects of Schisandra lignans on P-glycoprotein-mediated drug efflux in human intestinal Caco-2. Planta Med. 2007;73(5):444-450.