Schisandra Berry Pastilles: A Five Flavors Recipe

Have you heard of schisandra berries?

The Chinese have revered this herb for many centuries and Dr. Oz has even called it the “Miracle Pill for Anti-Aging.”

Why all the hype over a berry? It probably has something to do with the fact that it can seemingly do everything. Here’s a glimpse at some of the ways that the schisandra berry (Schisandra chinensis) is used…

Benefits of schisandra berry

It’s used as an adaptogen to help nourish and strengthen people who are weak or chronically fatigued.

Schisandra berry strengthens the lungs and can be used for chronic coughing or general lung weakness. It has also been shown to strongly support the immune system even in cases of severe infection such as hepatitis B.1

It’s used for chronic digestive problems, notably chronic diarrhea.

Are you stressed or anxious and have problems sleeping? Alan Tillotson considers schisandra to be an herb that balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It calms chronic stress, relieves anxiety and helps to promote sleep.2

Scientific studies have shown schisandra to have protective qualities for the liver. In one randomized, parallel, and placebo-controlled study, patients taking schisandra had significantly improved liver blood tests as well as significant improvements in fatty liver disease compared with those taking a placebo. The same study also showed significant improvements in antioxidant status and inflammatory markers.3

Schisandra, when combined with rhodiola and eleuthero, has been shown to improve cognitive functions in women in reported feeling stressed for a long period of time.4

Chinese medicine uses a combination of schisandra, ophiopogon, and ginseng to dramatically and positively effect heart health. According to Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, “The formula is administered to patients who have suffered a serious illness, especially heart attack and congestive heart failure.”5

Wow!

How does one herb do so many different things?

Well, we could explain its effects through its chemical constituents (schizandrol, schisanlactone). We could also explain it through different herbal actions (adaptogen, hepatoprotective, etc.).

But there is another simpler and very unique property of schisandra berry that explains its widely varied uses.

By the way it tastes.

“Really?” you might ask. “Can we explain how an herb works simply by its taste?”

Yes!

In both Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, the taste of an herb is an important way to distinguish how it works in the body. In Chinese Medicine there are five tastes, including pungent, salty, sour, bitter, and sweet. Herbs that have predominantly one flavor have the general characteristics of that particular taste.

Pungent herbs are warming and spicy and are used to awaken the senses and get things moving. A great example of this is how cayenne (Capsicum annuum) makes you sweat and gets your sinuses running.

Salty herbs are high in minerals and often effect the fluid balance in our bodies. The archetypal salty herb is nettle (Urtica dioica) with its nourishing and diuretic effects.

Sour herbs stimulate digestion and build strength. An example of this is drinking lemon water in the morning.

Bitter herbs also stimulate digestion and often have a cooling and draining effect that can help to modulate inflammation. Think of coffee and its strong antioxidant effect.

Sweet herbs nourish and build and can restore energy levels and modulate the immune system. Drinking astragalus chai daily is a great way to experience this effect.

So what does the taste of herbs have to do with schisandra?

Schisandra berry is a very special herb in that it has all five tastes. That means that in herbal theory, it contains the qualities and benefits of all five flavors. This explains why it doesn’t do just one thing!

Developing your sense of taste and understanding how to interpret those tastes is one of the most important tools an herbalist can develop. And schisandra is a fun herb to explore since it contains all the different tastes.

“To me, any herbalists that doesn’t know the taste of an herb, but attempts to use it can be compared to a painter who doesn’t know the colors of a rainbow, or a musician who doesn’t know the scales.” – Alan Tillotson

And as you’ve seen, another reason to explore schisandra is that it has so many benefits! The Chinese use it to prolong life, it protects your liver, supports your nervous system, and so much more.

The following recipe uses schisandra berry (sometimes spelled schizandra berry) powder, which you can find at your local apothecary or online with Mountain Rose Herbs. Mountain Rose Herbs carries both freeze dried schisandra and regular schisandra powder. I prefer the taste and the vibrant color of the freeze dried schisandra, but it is more expensive. The regular powdered schisandra will also work great.

Schisandra Pastilles Recipe

This is a super simple recipe and a great way to include schisandra berry into your daily life. While making this be sure to taste the raw schisandra powder. Can you detect all five flavors? Most often people taste the sour first but, with practice, you’ll eventually be able to detect all five flavors.

When making this recipe I recommend using local treatment free honey – look around for your local beekeepers.

What you’ll need…

  • 29 grams schisandra powder (roughly one ounce or 1/4 cup)
  • Roughly 1 tablespoon honey
  • Licorice powder or orange peel powder or rose petal powder (optional for dusting the pastilles)

Place the schisandra powder into a small bowl.

If your honey is thick, you’ll need to warm it so it has a very thin consistency. In a double boiler or on very low heat, gently heat the honey until it is a syrupy consistency. You don’t want to cook the honey, just make it thin enough to easily mix with the schisandra.

Slowly add the liquid honey to the schisandra powder. I like to add a small amount (1 teaspoon, for example), stir, then assess if more needs to be added.

You want to mix enough honey with the schisandra so that it forms a thick paste that can be rolled into small balls. If you add too much honey, then add a bit more powder until you get the desired consistency.

Once you have a thick paste, roll the schisandra and honey dough into small pea-sized balls. If desired, roll the balls in an herbal powder such as licorice powder, orange peel powder, or rose petal powder. This will keep them from sticking together.

Place these in a small container with an air-tight lid.

The recommended dosage of schisandra is 3 to 6 grams a day, which means that this recipe makes roughly 5 to 10 total servings. Ideally these can be chewed so you taste the five flavors. If you make them small enough, they can also be simply swallowed.

Store these in an airtight container. These can be stored in a cool dark location or in the fridge, as desired.

Yield: 5 to 10 servings

Citations

  1. Yip, Adrian Y S, Wings T Y Loo, and Louis W C Chow. “Fructus Schisandrae (Wuweizi) Containing Compound in Modulating Human Lymphatic System – a Phase I Minimization Clinical Trial.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomédecine & pharmacothérapie 61, no. 9 (2007): doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2007.08.018.
  2. Tillotson, Alan Keith, Nai-sheng Tillotson, and Robert Abel. The One Earth Herbal Sourcebook: Everything You Need to Know about Chinese, Western, and Ayurvedic Herbal Treatments. New York, NY: Twin Streams, 2001.
  3. Chiu, Hui-Fang, Tzy-Yen Chen, Yu-Te Tzeng, and Chin-Kun Wang. “Improvement of Liver Function in Humans Using a Mixture of Schisandra Fruit Extract and Sesamin.” Phytotherapy research : PTR 27, no. 3 (2013): doi:10.1002/ptr.4702.
  4. Aslanyan, G, E Amroyan, E Gabrielyan, M Nylander, G Wikman, and A Panossian. “Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Randomised Study of Single Dose Effects of ADAPT-232 on Cognitive Functions.” Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology 17, no. 7 (2010): doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2010.02.005.
  5. Dharmananda, Subhuti. “MODERN APPLICATIONS OF SHENGMAI SAN.” Shengmai San: An Ancient Formula Now Used in Chinese Hospitals. Accessed October 15, 2015.

Which herbs & remedies should you always stock in your kitchen?

45 comments
  1. VERY excited about this recipe. What do you think???

    • Sounds like a dandy idea (and they’re beautiful). Right now I just have whole berries, so I like to soak some overnight (and thanks for the reminder– I’d forgotten about it) in sour cherry or pomegranate juice and drink a little in the morning. I probably got the idea from one of you.

      This comes at a good time; I can use some schizandra right now. Thanks!

    • I love how you share free classes with us. It gets me so excited to sign up for larger classes, I have never been disappointed in any of the classes you have sponsored. Can’t wait to make these.

      • You are so very welcome!

      • Ditto!!!

      • I agree! I enjoy so much your lessons and I know that they take your own time and resources, and I just wanted to say : thank you! Thank you for giving us (me) all this amazing info at no cost! I do really appreciate it!

    • I had just placed an order for schizandra right before I watched this video, so I am eager to try it. It is a new herb for me. Thank you so much for the classes and free literature.

    • I am very excited about making easy to take herbals without sugar, this is geat!

    • I was three paragraphs into this page and found myself equally stoked and impressed. Love the way you offered full source/citation info below the article with that nice click-to-expand box. Since I’m not a doctor or licensed nutritionist, but rather an educator of clinical herbal medicine and other healing paths, it’s both ethically and professionally incumbent upon me to be aware of the quality of my sources of information. This is what I appreciate about Rosalee; she provides usable information that I can trust at face value, because I can see behind it that she’s done her homework and speaks with earned authority. And ~that~ is valuable. Thank you!

      PS – The only thing cooler would be a hyperlink to the sources info box from the superscript footnote number : )

  2. Love this recipe and this new idea of yours. Do you send to spain please?

  3. Such a beautiful plant and lovely-colored medicine! I have been enjoying shisandra for the last several months as part of my daily infusion. I look forward to trying this recipe and sharing!

  4. these kinds of little pills generally are dusted with slippery elm powder, not too difficult to locate

    • In the recipe I recommend using licorice, rose, orange peels… or any other herbal powder that tastes good. But I don’t recommend using slippery elm powder since it is endangered (unless, of course, you get it from a sustainable source).

  5. What a great berry. I love the idea of Chyawanprash and add Schisandra extract to my blend. I was so excited to read this post :). What a great berry. Wonderful in so many ways for woman too. I learned about Schisandra in an intensive hormone balancing course I took in Calgary AB. I had a hard time with the taste of it on it’s own wow I get the bitter taste right away. And your right you can taste all 5 flavors in it. The bitter hits me hard first.
    I sure appreciate all that yous do and teach. Thank you it is always a treat to watch your videos and read your wonderful articals and recipes and I use many of them. I thank you both for getting me started and helping me on my journey to become what I believe is my path to learn and teach too.
    Bright Blessings to you and yours.
    Thank you John and Rosalee

  6. Can brown rice syrup or maple syrup be used for a vegan version?

    • I’ve never tried that… seems like it would work, but I’m not sure if they will hold the form as well.

  7. On your course recently offerred. Will you be addressing chronic conditions as well as acute. e.g. herbal treatment and support of people with lyme disease or its coinfections. ty.

    • The Taste of Herbs course is about discovering herbal energetics through taste. It is not a clinical training for chronic diseases, but it does lay a foundation to understanding how to work with herbs and people who have chronic illness. If you are interested in learning more about Lyme and coinfections then I recommend finding a 3-7 day workshop specifically covering that disease. As you probably know, it is very complex and there’s a lot to know.

  8. Thank. you John Gallingher!?

  9. I am making these now! I was wondering if organic cocoa powder or cinnamon would be contraindicated for dusting? It’s the only powder that I have on hand. Red clover, yarrow, hops, lemon balm, nettle,etc. I have, but none of them sound particularly good as a dusting agent. Thanks for your great articles and recipes.

    • You could use those, not sure about how those tastes would go together necessarily, but it is nice to dust these with something so they avoid sticking together.

  10. Would this be good for someone who has COPD?

    • Possibly, but it’s better to choose the herb for the person and not the disease. What I mean by that is there could be 10 people diagnosed with COPD, but then we look at them for who they are, only some of those people would benefit from schisandra. Our new training videos are all about this! http://explore.learningherbs.com/taste-of-herbs/compass-training

  11. What a great article. That’s one herb that I haven’t come into much contact with, writings or videos.
    Thanks again!

  12. Are these safe for children 12+. Is there a recommended daily dosage? Is there a dosage one should not exceed without an herbalist or health care practitioner’s supervision? Should they be safeguarded from young children lest they mistake them for candy? I am thinking of doing this with my Girls’ Group, and wondering with what cautions I should send them home with them – or if at all Thank you!

  13. Thanks, Rosalee and John. I’d only seen the herb in Mountain Rose Herbs’ catalog, never tried it. Looks like one that belongs in our herbal medicine chest.

  14. I have wondered about the constituents for a while. Wonderful to know what herbs can go with hot, cold, dry or damp! I just place my winter order with MRH with medicinal and culinary herbs and EO. As soon as I can I want to get this to schisandra powder and I think I’m going to go for orange. Never have tried this herb yet and excited to. Thank You All for this!

  15. Thank you for this recipe! I take shisandra capsules for adrenal support (also ashwaganda and astragulus) but I really dislike taking pills and have to force myself to remember. This is so much better! You guys ROCK!!!

  16. Hooray!! Schisandra Berries have been my favorite herbal discovery of this past year! I am so in love the with array of flavors and the vivid energy that comes with this engaging herb. Thank you for this recipe and the great and simple article. Cheers! Excited to try these…

  17. Wow, I definitely need to add this to my herbal collection. Thanks!

  18. Love the information, however I find the article most difficult to copy. All the formatting is lost, along with the pictures when I copy and paste. Also, the reference back to source is copied every time a paste is done which necessitates endless deleting. I like to keep your articles for my files but find it really time-consuming since I cannot just copy the page as is. Any ideas?

  19. great recipe, thank you for sharing

  20. Hi Rosalee, I’m curious if there is a local berry that compares to schisandra? Or can schisandra be grown NW locally? Thanks! much love and gratitude for your abundant generosity.

    • I don’t know of any herb that is similar to schisandra. Farmers have started growing it in the US but I am not sure of the preferred zone. You might check with Crimson Sage Nursery or Horizon Herbs to see if they offer it and how it likes to be grown.

  21. These look great! I’ve made the vitamin C balls and sore throat pastilles from your recipes, and these are next! I use schisandra powder in some smoothies, so gratefully, I have it on hand. Thank you for sharing so much with us!

  22. I can’t wait to make these for my mother-in-law, who has every symptom you mentioned! Thank you for sharing your passion!

  23. I am curious if you will be discussing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia in the
    Taste of Herbs course?

    • Hi Sky, The Taste of Herbs course is about discovering herbal energetics through taste, and it is not specifically about treating any kind of chronic disease. Instead it lays the foundation to understanding how herbs can be matched to the person.

  24. Ooo, is that bitter… I can taste sour and terpines.. the sweet from the hone completely disappeared. I added a little hawthorne powder since I had it and needed a little powder for consistency. rolled in slippery elm which helped smooth out the taste a bit. strikes me as a strongly medicinal flavor

  25. Curious – can I use whole schisandra and a mortar and pestle?

    Thanks for the info on slippery elm – I bought some at the local herbal access, and had no idea it was endangered. Will check into where they get it from.

    • I’m not sure that a mortar and pestle will grind whole schisandra berries… you could try it, but those seeds may be too tough.

      • Thanks Rosalee. Coffee grinder then?

      • I think you would have more luck with a coffee grinder. I haven’t tried it myself so I’m not sure.

  26. I am looking forward to placing an order for schisandra and using the recipe. Thank you so much for all the info that you share. It is really helping me to develop a better understanding of herbs by interacting so closely with them, and it encourages me to introduce new herbs into my life. Thank you both!

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