Schisandra (Fructus Schisandrae) is a herb that is reported to have a number of medicinal effects and may be a useful treatment for stress and mood disorders. Animal studies have investigated the effects of schisandra and shown that administration of the herb for 8 days to mice can significantly reduce the anxious behaviour they display. This suggests that schisandra possesses significant anxiolytic effects. In addition, administration of schisandra to stressed mice causes a reduction in monoamine levels in the cerebral cortex, which may explain the anxiolytic effects. Corticosterone blood levels have also been shown to fall in stressed mice with administration of schisandra, suggesting a significant antistress effect. Based on this it appears that schisandra may be able to reduce anxiety through a reduction in the activity of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis during periods of stress. The active ingredient in schisandra may be a group of lignans including schizandrol, schisandrin, schisantherin and deoxychisandrin.
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