With 2017 set to be the year of botanicals it's an exciting time for Botanic Lab as many of the ingredients that we champion come into the spotlight. Botanical complexity is at the heart of everything we do (the clue is in our name). We have relished the challenge of incorporating these powerful and interesting ingredients into drinks that will excite your taste buds. That's not always the easiest of tasks. In meaningful quantities many potent botanicals have a challenging flavour and are avoided by mainstream food producers.
In this series of posts we'd like to share with you some of our favourite botanical ingredients - the history, origin and traditional uses and give you an insight into the very special plants that we put at the centre of our drink creations.
Yes, schisandra is a berry, but it's a berry like no other; strange, exotic, more of a herb than a food. Schisandra Chinensis owes its name Wu Wei Zi (five flavoured berry) to the fact that it contains all 5 flavour combinations; sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent. In Chinese medicine, each of the flavours corresponds to a different organ, season, element and emotion – illustrating why it is commonly used for its medicinal benefits and certainly shouldn’t be labelled as another blueberry or acai to sprinkle on your morning porridge. To put the Schisandra berry into context, it helps to explain its myriad of properties starting with its adaptogenic quality.
So what are adaptogens? Adaptogens are botanicals used to improve the health of the adrenal system, therefore improving the body’s ability to adapt to stress.
According to modern herbalism, a herb can only be classified as an adaptogen if it meets all of the following requirements:
- is non toxic regardless of dosage
- can be taken daily
- is a naturally occurring substance such as a plant or fungi
- must reduce both mental and physical stress
- must have a balancing effect on the body’s organ systems, promoting homeostasis
- has broad use or more than one specific function
Schisandra is one of only a handful of herbs (others include Siberian ginseng, panax ginseng and ashwagandha - other favoured ingredients in our drinks) that meets all of these requirements. Additional benefits of this truly exceptional superfood include:
- stress reduction
- helps to improve concentration and endurance
- a beautifying tonic for luxurious skin and hair
- help to improve sexual function, endurance and performance
- a powerful tonic for the liver and kidneys
- helps to restore respiratory functionality and circulation
Functionality in more detail.
Schisandra berry is known as a balancing adaptogen, which if taken for a prolonged amount of time has a cumulative effect in the body and will help the body to reach or maintain homeostasis (the regulation of temperature and the balance between acidity and alkalinity).
Schisandra was widely revered by women of the imperial court in China for its ability to enhance a radiant and youthful glow to the outer surface of the skin, thanks to its ability to preserve natural moisture content and provide lubrication to the cells of the skin. Its purifying action on the liver offers secondary beauty benefits thanks to unburdening the body of toxins and it can help with more persistent skin conditions, speeding up the healing of skin tissue.
It is also reported to protect the skin from harmful UVB rays and environmental stressors.
In addition to being an excellent liver tonic, Schisandra is one of the only herbs in traditional Chinese medicine that targets all 12 meridians, which means it improves the functioning of all systems of the body and is a general strengthening tonic.
It is present in quantities that count in SHINE, our collaborataion with Amelia Freer. We source the organic schisandra berries direct from the farm on which they are grown. The land and the berry is 100% organic certified. Less froth, more function. That's no secret!