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Can Schisandra Help Fight Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Last updated:
Puya Yazdi
Medically reviewed by
Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Last updated:

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This article is for informational purposes only. The current coronavirus outbreak is an ongoing event and certain details may change as new information comes to light. No effective or FDA-approved products are currently available for the treatment of the new coronavirus (also known as SARS-CoV-2 or 2019-nCoV), although research is still ongoing.

Schisandra, also referred to as Schizandra or Schisandra chinensis, comes from a vine native to China and parts of Russia. Its berry is used as a form of traditional Chinese medicine.

The fruit is also known as the Five Flavor Berry because its taste captures the five major favors – sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy [1].

Viral Infections

In a pilot trial on 50 people with chronic hepatitis C, an oral combination of antioxidants including schisandra reduced viral load, ALT levels, and tissue damage in 25-44% of the patients and improved health assessment in 58% [2].

Different compounds isolated from the berry inhibited the hepatitis B and C viruses in cell-based studies [3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

In chicken, supplementation with schisandra improved antibody titers against Newcastle disease and lymphocyte proliferation [8].

In mice with heart muscle inflammation caused by the coxsackievirus B3, a traditional Chinese medicine formula with schisandra (Qishaowuwei) increased survival, restored the CD4+ to CD8+ T cell balance, and reduced heart tissue damage and viral loads [9].

Compounds isolated from different schisandra species were active against the following viruses in test tubes:

Schisandra has demonstrated antiviral activity in limited clinical trials and in cell and animal studies.

Pneumonia

In 60 pneumonia patients, a product containing rhodiola, schisandra, and Siberian ginseng (ADAPT-232) reduced the duration of antibiotic treatment and improved quality of life, compared to standard treatment alone [19].

In an antibacterial study, lignan-containing schisandra extract inhibited a microbe that causes pneumonia (Chlamydia pneumoniae) [20].

Lung Damage and Failure

In guinea pigs with cough and lung inflammation caused by cigarette smoke, schisandra extract and several of its compounds (including fruit polysaccharide 1) suppressed cough and reduced the production of pro-inflammatory molecules [21, 22].

Both schisandra extract and its compound schisantherin A reduced lung inflammation and acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in mice [23, 24].

The combination of schisandra’s active compound schisandrin B and licorice’s glycyrrhizin protected mice from lung tissue scarring caused by a chemotherapeutic drug (bleomycin) [25].

Schisandra extract protected animals from lung inflammation and damage.

Asthma

In asthmatic mice, oral schisandra fruit syrup improved lung function and reduced the blood levels of 2 inflammatory mediators (nitric oxide and IL-6) [26].

About the Author

Carlos Tello

Carlos Tello

PhD (Molecular Biology)
Carlos received his PhD and MS from the Universidad de Sevilla.
Carlos spent 9 years in the laboratory investigating mineral transport in plants. He then started working as a freelancer, mainly in science writing, editing, and consulting. Carlos is passionate about learning the mechanisms behind biological processes and communicating science to both academic and non-academic audiences. He strongly believes that scientific literacy is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid falling for scams.

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