Schisandra chinensis Turcz. (Baill.) is a plant species whose fruits have been well known in Far Eastern medicine for a long time. However, schisandra seems to be a plant still underestimated in contemporary therapy still in the countries of East Asia. The article presents latest available information on the chemical composition of this plant species. Special attention is given to dibenzo cyclooctadiene lignans. In addition, recent studies of the biological activity of dibenzocyclooctadiene lignans and schisandra fruit extracts are recapitulated. The paper gives a short resume of their beneficial effects in biological systems in vitro, in animals, and in humans, thus underlining their medicinal potential. The cosmetic properties are depicted, too. The analytical methods used for assaying schisandra lignans in the scientific studies and also in industry are also presented. Moreover, special attention is given to the information on the latest biotechnological studies of this plant species. The intention of this review is to contribute to a better understanding of the huge potential of the pharmacological relevance of S. chinensis.
Keywords: Dibenzocyclooctadiene lignans; Gomisin A; In vitro cultures; Schisandrin; Schizandra; Triterpenoids.