Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) has been used for centuries as a plant of traditional Chinese medicine. Its biological activity and pharmacological use are associated with dibenzocyclooctadiene lignans, while specific polysaccharides may also be involved. The lignans of schisandra are genus-specific. Their activity has been investigated in hundreds of studies that have confirmed adaptogenic effects, central nervous system stimulation, hepatoprotective effects and potential anticancer potential. This summary review of the literature synthesizes the current state-of-the-art in research on bioactivities of schisandra constituents, description of folk use of extracts, overview of clinical studies and additional information on in vitro tests bringing insight into mechanisms of action.
Keywords: Schiandra chinensis; clinical trials; fruit; lignans; polysaccharides; seed.