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Schizandra berry is becoming a hot topic in the United States, largely due to the Dr. Oz show. Oz promotes this Chinese berry as helping us cope with stress, improve our brain power, and defy aging. If that isn’t a powerful combination, it is hard to imagine what is.
What is the research behind Oz’s claims?
First, the schizandra berry has been used for thousands of years in the Chinese culture. Oz mentions that even now schizandra berry supplements sell out during final exam times among Chinese students. That track record usually comes with wisdom we should pay attention to. Some scientists have set out to study the specific impact of schizandra berry but the most interesting studies have been on animals. The results are compelling enough that we give this berry a green light and suggest you give it a try. We are all different and so it is best to give it a try, being watchful of the effect, to see if it works for you.
Schizandra Berry And Cortisol, The Stress Hormone
A powerful role this Chinese berry may play is in helping us cope with stress. We all know that when we are stressed, it is far more difficult to be productive. Physiologically, our bodies are concerned with survival rather than work place efficiency.
What if when you are under stress, your body itself could maintain its cool and you could stay focused? A Swedish study suggests that schizandra may be able to help. Researchers tested the berry on rabbits – stressing the rabbits out by tying them down to a board so that they could not move their heads or limbs. For two hours they lay there, stuck. That must be awfully stressful for a rabbit. The rabbits who received schizandra berry had a lower rise in cortisol than those that received nothing. Physiologically, their bodies did not go into a “flight or fight” mode. In humans, that means we might be able to keep better mental focus when under stress and also reduce our risk of the many diseases associated with high stress and cortisol — heart disease and depression to name two.
Schizandra Berry And Memory
Keeping your brain focused amidst stress is important in itself, but in another study (this time involving mice), scientists put mice through a test of their memory. Some mice had the aid of schizandra, others did not. They placed the mice in water, one at a time of course, and the mice had to find their way out of the tank. There is an escape path under water and the tank is lined with colorful and distinctive shapes. Each successive time the mouse is in the tank, finding that same exit should be easier and easier if the mouse is learning and remembering where the exit is (with the colorful shapes as cues). Mice on schizandra berry find the exit better than those not. That’s pretty cool too.
An Antioxidant Berry
Of course, schizandra, like all berries, has strong antioxidant power. A study of seventy natural remedies from Korea consistently found this berry to be in the top 10 of various antioxidant properties of food. Antioxidants are important in fighting cancer and heart disease, diseases of the 21st century.
Schizandra Berry: How to Eat It/Take It
If you are going to take a serious amount of schizandra berry, you should consider a supplement. Dr. Oz recommends taking 500 mg daily to help fight the hands of time.
For the more adventuresome, you can buy schizandra powder or berries, both of which brew up nicely as tea. The powder can also get added to smoothies and other concoctions.
Schizandra Berry Tea, Fermented
We are getting hot on schizandra berry around here. It is a high antioxidant fruit that can help your body cope with stress. Under stress, it helps you keep up your mental focus and your energy. There is no adult under our roof who does not need that edge.
We love fermenting a nutrient-packed food like schizandra because it helps preserve the nutrients that are there and may even make some of them more easily absorbed by your body. We also just love fermenting everything and so we do.
This fermentation method uses water kefir grains and a two-step fermentation process. If you are unfamiliar with water kefir, read our tome on water kefir grains and making water kefir.
As with any water kefir ferment, the measurements are highly flexible and you should adapt them to fit your taste. In fact, I typically make very strong-flavored water kefir concoctions and let the members of the household dilute their own drink according to their tastes. Dilute it with a seltzer water for an extra fizz experience.
Schizandra Berry Tea Ingredients
- One tablespoon of water kefir grains
- One quart of water
- One cup of sugar
- One cup of dried schizandra berries
- Two cups of boiled water
- Two cups of pomegranate juice (cherry and raspberry juice are great too)
Schizandra Berry Tea Steps
- Dissolve the sugar in the quart of water. (I recommend heating the water to help dissolve the sugar, but then allow the water to cool before the next step.)
- Put the water kefir grains in a clean quart jar and pour the cool sugar water over the grains. Let it sit for 24 hours.
- In the meantime, pour two cups of boiled water over the berries, cover, and let it sit and cool. (We have had no issues letting this sit for 24 hours.)
- After 24 hours, strain off the water kefir grains to use in another recipe. Set grains aside.
- In a half gallon jar, combine the sugar water, steeped berries with liquid, and the pomegranate juice or juice of your choice.
- Cover with a tea towel and let it ferment until it reaches your desired sweetness.
As I mentioned, when the ferment is ready, drink it straight or dilute it with water or seltzer until it reaches the flavor you desire. If you want it sweeter, you can mix it with fresh fruit juice. If you would like more fizz, add seltzer. There is no going wrong except perhaps ending up with schizandra berry vinegar and then, of course, you can make a salad dressing.