Extracts from Schisandra Chinensis, a plant native to the northeast Asian continent, can stimulate muscle growth. Pharmacological researchers at Gachon University in South Korea draw this conclusion from Schisandra extract experiments with mice.
Effects of Schisandra and Its Health Benefits
Schisandra Chinensis is widely used in traditional medicine as a therapy for:
- insomnia (a pathological condition in which the process of onset and maintenance of sleep is disrupted),
- dry cough,
- urinary disorders,
- involuntary ejaculation,
- poor memory,
- chronic diarrhea,
It is widely used in Korea, China, and Russia.
Schisandra contains many lignans, including:
- schizandrin A,
- schizandrin B,
- schizandrin C,
- schizandrol A,
- schizandrol B,
- other biologically active components.
Known pharmacological effects include:
- antidiabetic activities.
Recent studies have shown that the administration of Schisandra also has a beneficial effect on muscle metabolism and myogenic differentiation, dexamethasone-induced muscle wasting.
However, it is not known whether Schisandra has a preventive effect on natural aging associated with insulin resistance and muscle loss.
This study examined the effect of the extract on insulin resistance and muscle loss that accompany natural aging, incl. in animals.
Research on the Anti-Aging Effects of Schisandra
The Koreans divided the elderly 16-month-old laboratory mice into 2 groups. For 4 months, the researchers fed half of the mice with standard food [CON] and the other half with Schisandra Chinensis fruit extract [SFe].
The human equivalent of the dose that scientists gave their experimental animals was not extreme: 800-950 milligrams per day.
Insulin sensitivity was significantly lower in the control group at 20 months of age than in the control group of 16-month-old mice. However, insulin sensitivity in 20-month-old mice fed a diet containing Schisandra for 4 months was similar to that recorded at the beginning of the experiment.
The addition of Schisandra improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance in elderly mice.
Between their sixteenth [16M] and twentieth months [20M], mice in the control group increased their body fat.
Moreover, they have lost muscle mass. This did not happen in the SFe group.
The addition of Schisandra Chinensis to the feed kept their body composition unchanged.
The Mechanism of Influence of Schisandra Extract on Muscle Growth
After 4 months, the researchers compared the rats’ muscle tissue in the control group with the rats’ muscle tissue in the experimental group.
They saw Schisandra Chinensis increase the concentration of anabolic proteins like MyoD, Myf5, MyoG, and MRF4.
These signaling proteins stimulate stem cells in muscle tissue to develop into full-fledged muscle cells, so that muscle fibers remain intact or grow.
At the same time, the extract reduced the production and concentration of catabolic proteins such as myostatin [MSTN], MuRF-1, and atrogin-1.
“In general, muscle repair mechanism is mediated by satellite cells, which are muscle-specific stem cells. Satellite cells are dormant in normal adult muscle and gradually differentiate into myoblasts, myocytes, and myofibrils in a process called myogenic differentiation or myogenesis. Several muscle regulatory factors are expressed after activation of satellite cells, such as MyoD and Myf5 (myoblast marker genes), myogenin, and MRF4 (myocyte marker genes).
Our data showed that dietary supplements with Schisandra Chinensis extract increased the expression of the myogenic factor MyoD, Myf5, MyoG, and MRF4. Based on these results, we hypothesized that Schisandra Chinensis extract might at least affect satellite cell activation.”
Conclusions on the Role of Schisandra in Preventing Age-Related Insulin Resistance and Muscle Atrophy
The study authors conclude: “As a result of advances in medicine, overall life expectancy has increased dramatically over the past century.
According to the US Census Bureau, the population over 65 is expected to increase from 319 million in 2014 to 417 million in 2060. In addition to regular physical activity and dietary intervention, pharmacological approaches are needed to delay aging and prevent age-related diseases.
In this study, we investigated Schisandra Chinensis extract’s effect on aging-related decreases in insulin sensitivity and muscle function in a naturally aged mouse model.
Our data showed that the addition of Schisandra Chinensis extract prevented age-related increases in insulin resistance and improved glucose tolerance during aging.
Additionally, the addition of Schisandra Chinensis extract prevented the increased muscle loss that usually accompanies aging. Since skeletal muscle is the predominant tissue responsible for insulin-mediated glucose uptake, increased muscle mass may be a contributing factor to improved insulin sensitivity.”
Research on the Effect of Schisandra Extract on Muscle
Schisandra Chinensis increases muscle strength by 8% if you do not exercise with weights, but take one gram of Schisandra extract every day. Then according to a study by Dong-A University in South Korea, your muscle strength would increase by 7,7% within 12 weeks.
Schisandra Chinensis (SC) extract has a long history as a medicinal plant in traditional Asian medicine for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, chronic cough, thirst, night sweats, hypertension, and obesity [10,11].
Several studies have reported that SC extract effectively inhibits damage to large arteries [12,13].
It has also been implicated in improving endurance, movement accuracy, and physical performance, as well as in blood pressure control  and improving metabolic markers [11,14].
Loss of muscle mass and strength are predictors of all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, hospitalization, and disability in middle-aged and older populations [15,16].
Muscle strength and quantity can be used as markers of muscle quality. However, muscle strength is more important in assessing mortality risk [17,18].
For example, a decrease in muscle strength was closely associated with aging, depletion of protein-energy resources, and physical inactivity in middle-aged and older people .
In addition, decreased leg muscle strength, in particular, has been associated with an increased risk of loss of mobility, physical impairment in instrumental activities of daily life (IADLs), and functional limitation [20,21].
Recent animal studies have shown the beneficial effects of SC extract. For example, its supplementation appears to reduce degradation and increase protein synthesis, as well as exhibit antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on skeletal muscle fibers [22,23].
Besides, SC extract was found to improve skeletal muscle mass and strength as well as endurance in experimental mice [22,23,24].
However, SC extract may not be as effective in humans as in animals. The study authors’ first hypothesis was that the addition of SC extract to the human body could increase muscle strength.
Blood lactate levels are widely used as an indicator of muscle fatigue in the human body during physical exertion, such as acute physical exertion [25,26,27].
However, reliable cross-sectional and follow-up studies in adults have shown that high resting blood lactate levels are associated with a high risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, and stroke [28,29].
Meanwhile, a recent study by Cao et al. reports that long-term SC supplementation can prevent an increase in lactate levels after exercise .
However, it is still unclear how SC extract affects resting lactate levels and skeletal muscle strength in humans. Therefore, the second hypothesis was that adding SC extract to the human body lowers resting lactate levels.
Thus, the researchers set out to study SC extract’s effect on quadriceps strength and resting lactate levels in healthy, postmenopausal middle-aged women.
The researchers divided 45 healthy women aged 55-78 into 2 groups. Half of the subjects were given a total of 1 gram of Schisandra Chinensis every day for 12 weeks.
This dose was divided into 4 capsules and taken in two doses of 2 capsules per day. The other half received capsules without active ingredients during this period.
Before and after the supplementation period, researchers measured the strength women could develop on the leg extension machine.
Scientists’ Findings on the Effects of Schisandra Extract on Muscle
The supplement increased muscle strength by 7.7%, while lactic acid concentration was significantly reduced compared to the placebo group, which did not change.
“Our results illustrate the potential of adding Schisandra Chinensis extract to help prevent muscle loss,” the researchers write.
“Further research is needed to solidify this link and investigate whether it affects physical performance.” 
- Anti‐Aging Effects of Schisandrae Chinensis Fructus Extract: Improvement of Insulin Sensitivity and Muscle Function in Aged Mice. Hojung Choi, Eunhui Seo, Myeonghoon Yeon, Myung-Sunny Kim, Haeng Jeon Hur, Byung-Chul Ohand Hee-Sook Jun. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.Volume 2019, Article ID 5642149, 11 pages
- Y.-M. Shi, X.-Y. Li, X.-N. Li et al., “Schicagenins A–C: three cagelike nortriterpenoids from leaves and stems of Schisandra chinensis,” Organic Letters, vol. 13, no. 15, pp. 3848–3851, 2011.
- X. Huang, F. Song, Z. Liu, and S. Liu, “Studies on lignan constituents from Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill. fruits using high-performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization multiple-stage tandem mass spectrometry,” Journal of Mass Spectrometry, vol. 42, no. 9, pp. 1148–1161, 2007.
- X. Huang, F. Song, Z. Liu, and S. Liu, “Structural characterization and identification of dibenzocyclooctadiene lignans in Fructus Schisandrae using electrospray ionization ion trap multiple-stage tandem mass spectrometry and electrospray ionization fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance multiple-stage tandem mass spectrometry,” Analytica Chimica Acta, vol. 615, no. 2, pp. 124–135, 2008.
- .-S. Kang, M.-H. Han, S.-H. Hong et al., “Anti-inflammatory effects of Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill fruit through the inactivation of nuclear factor-κB and mitogen-activated protein kinases signaling pathways in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated murine macrophages,” Journal of Cancer Prevention, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 279–287, 2014.
- J. W. Jeong, J. Kim, E. O. Choi et al., “Schisandrae Fructus ethanol extract ameliorates inflammatory responses and articular cartilage damage in monosodium iodoacetate-induced osteoarthritis in rats,” Experimental and Clinical Sciences Journal, vol. 16, pp. 265–277, 2017.
- N. Cheng, N. Ren, H. Gao, X. Lei, J. Zheng, and W. Cao, “Antioxidant and hepatoprotective effects of Schisandra chinensis pollen extract on CCl4-induced acute liver damage in mice,” Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol. 55, pp. 234–240, 2013.
- Y. Qu, J. Y.-W. Chan, C.-W. Wong et al., “Antidiabetic effect of Schisandrae chinensis fructus involves inhibition of the sodium glucose cotransporter,” Drug Development Research, vol. 76, no. 1, pp. 1–8, 2015.
- S. Park, S. M. Hong, I. S. Ahn, Y. J. Kim, and J. B. Lee, “Huang-Lian-Jie-Du-Tang supplemented with Schisandra chinensis Baill. and Polygonatum odoratum Druce improved glucose tolerance by potentiating insulinotropic actions in islets in 90% pancreatectomized diabetic rats,” Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, vol. 73, no. 11, pp. 2384–2392, 2009.
- Panossian, A.; Wikman, G. Pharmacology of Schisandra chinensis Bail: An overview of Russian research and uses in medicine. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2008, 118, 183–212.
- Song, M.Y.; Wang, J.H.; Eom, T.; Kim, H. Schisandra chinensis fruit modulates the gut microbiota composition in association with metabolic markers in obese women: A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Nutr. Res. 2015, 35, 655–663.
- Park, J.Y.; Shin, H.K.; Lee, Y.J.; Choi, Y.W.; Bae, S.S.; Kim, C.D. The mechanism of vasorelaxation induced by Schisandra chinensis extract in rat thoracic aorta. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2009, 121, 69–73.
- Rhyu, M.R.; Kim, E.Y.; Yoon, B.K.; Lee, Y.J.; Chen, S.N. Aqueous extract of Schizandra chinensis fruit causes endothelium-dependent and -independent relaxation of isolated rat thoracic aorta. Phytomed. Int. J. Phytother. Phytopharm. 2006, 13, 651–657.
- Bae, H.; Kim, R.; Kim, Y.; Lee, E.; Jin Kim, H.; Pyo Jang, Y.; Jung, S.K.; Kim, J. Effects of Schisandra chinensis Baillon (Schizandraceae) on lipopolysaccharide induced lung inflammation in mice. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2012, 142, 41–47.
- Sasaki, H.; Kasagi, F.; Yamada, M.; Fujita, S. Grip strength predicts cause-specific mortality in middle-aged and elderly persons. Am. J. Med. 2007, 120, 337–342.
- Kalyani, R.R.; Corriere, M.; Ferrucci, L. Age-related and disease-related muscle loss: The effect of diabetes, obesity, and other diseases. Lancet. Diabetes Endocrinol. 2014, 2, 819–829.
- Newman, A.B.; Kupelian, V.; Visser, M.; Simonsick, E.M.; Goodpaster, B.H.; Kritchevsky, S.B.; Tylavsky, F.A.; Rubin, S.M.; Harris, T.B. Strength, but not muscle mass, is associated with mortality in the health, aging and body composition study cohort. J. Gerontol. Ser. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 2006, 61, 72–77.
- Abe, T.; Sakamaki, M.; Yasuda, T.; Bemben, M.G.; Kondo, M.; Kawakami, Y.; Fukunaga, T. Age-related, site-specific muscle loss in 1507 Japanese men and women aged 20 to 95 years. J. Sports Sci. Med. 2011, 10, 145–150.
- Isoyama, N.; Qureshi, A.R.; Avesani, C.M.; Lindholm, B.; Barany, P.; Heimburger, O.; Cederholm, T.; Stenvinkel, P.; Carrero, J.J. Comparative associations of muscle mass and muscle strength with mortality in dialysis patients. Clin. J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. CJASN 2014, 9, 1720–1728.
- Visser, M.; Goodpaster, B.H.; Kritchevsky, S.B.; Newman, A.B.; Nevitt, M.; Rubin, S.M.; Simonsick, E.M.; Harris, T.B. Muscle mass, muscle strength, and muscle fat infiltration as predictors of incident mobility limitations in well-functioning older persons. J. Gerontol. Ser. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 2005, 60, 324–333.
- Hairi, N.N.; Cumming, R.G.; Naganathan, V.; Handelsman, D.J.; Le Couteur, D.G.; Creasey, H.; Waite, L.M.; Seibel, M.J.; Sambrook, P.N. Loss of muscle strength, mass (sarcopenia), and quality (specific force) and its relationship with functional limitation and physical disability: The Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project. J. Am. Geriatr. Soc. 2010, 58, 2055–2062.
- Kim, K.Y.; Ku, S.K.; Lee, K.W.; Song, C.H.; An, W.G. Muscle-protective effects of Schisandrae Fructus extracts in old mice after chronic forced exercise. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2018, 212, 175–187.
- Kim, J.W.; Ku, S.K.; Han, M.H.; Kim, K.Y.; Kim, S.G.; Kim, G.Y.; Hwang, H.J.; Kim, B.W.; Kim, C.M.; Choi, Y.H. The administration of Fructus Schisandrae attenuates dexamethasone-induced muscle atrophy in mice. Int. J. Mol. Med. 2015, 36, 29–42.
- Cao, H.; Shang, H.; Wu, W.; Du, J.; Putheti, R. Evaluation of anti-athletic fatigue activity of Schizandra chinensis aqueous extracts in mice. Afr. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 2009, 3, 593–597.
- Saey, D.; Michaud, A.; Couillard, A.; Cote, C.H.; Mador, M.J.; LeBlanc, P.; Jobin, J.; Maltais, F. Contractile fatigue, muscle morphometry, and blood lactate in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 2005, 171, 1109–1115.
- Macedo, D.V.; Lazarim, F.L.; Catanho da Silva, F.O.; Tessuti, L.S.; Hohl, R. Is lactate production related to muscular fatigue? A pedagogical proposition using empirical facts. Adv. Physiol. Educ. 2009, 33, 302–307.
- Gorostiaga, E.M.; Asiain, X.; Izquierdo, M.; Postigo, A.; Aguado, R.; Alonso, J.M.; Ibanez, J. Vertical jump performance and blood ammonia and lactate levels during typical training sessions in elite 400-m runners. J. Strength Cond. Res. . 2010, 24, 1138-1149.
- Crawford, S.O.; Hoogeveen, R.C.; Brancati, F.L.; Astor, B.C.; Ballantyne, C.M.; Schmidt, M.I.; Young, J.H. Association of blood lactate with type 2 diabetes: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Carotid MRI Study. Int. J. Epidemiol. 2010, 39, 1647–1655.
- Matsushita, K.; Williams, E.K.; Mongraw-Chaffin, M.L.; Coresh, J.; Schmidt, M.I.; Brancati, F.L.; Hoogeveen, R.C.; Ballantyne, C.M.; Young, J.H. The association of plasma lactate with incident cardiovascular outcomes: The ARIC Study. Am. J. Epidemiol. 2013, 178, 401–409.
- Jinkee Park, Seoungho Han and Hyuntae Park.Effect of Schisandra chinensis Extract Supplementation on Quadriceps Muscle Strength and Fatigue in Adult Women: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Apr 4;17 (7):2475.
More about this topic: