Schisandrin B: Ushering in a New Era in UV Protective Skincare


Schisandrin B, a key component of Glissandrin, can protect against solar irradiation-induced oxidative injury in skin tissue and skin cells, according to recent research findings from the laboratory of Dr. Robert Ko at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

As the largest organ in the human body, the skin serves as an effective barrier for protecting against various external threats. This includes exposure to harmful solar irradiation – particularly UV and infrared rays – which research has shown to be a major cause of skin aging. Solar irradiation-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation is responsible for photo-aging, the signs of which include wrinkles, coarse skin texture, and reduced skin resilience. Although human skin tissue possesses non-enzymatic and enzymatic antioxidant defense systems to cope with the increased oxidative stress caused by solar light radiation, long-term exposure or over-exposure to solar light can overwhelm the antioxidant system.

But what if there was a way to enhance the skin’s natural antioxidant defenses to prevent photo-aging entirely? Schisandrin B (Sch B) is able to do just that, ushering in a new era in UV protective skincare.

Schisandrin B is derived from the Schisandra fruit, an herb commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This naturally occurring herbal ingredient has been found to produce tissue non-specific protection against oxidative injury by enhancing cellular and mitochondrial glutathione antioxidant status in the heart, liver, kidney, and brain.

Figure 1: Schisandra berry

Recent studies led by Dr. Robert Ko at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have shown the promise of Schisandrin B:

• Schisandrin B stimulated both reduced-glutathione and vitamin E levels. These two non-enzymatic antioxidants can remove excess ROS during oxidative stress in a synergistic manner.
• Schisandrin B elevated various enzymes involved in the enzymatic antioxidant defense system, demonstrating that non-enzymatic and enzymatic antioxidant components work together to protect against solar irradiation-induced oxidative injury in skin tissue.

Figure 2: Effects of Sch B pretreatment on solar irradiation-induced cell injury in BJ human fibroblasts

• Schisandrin B suppressed the solar irradiation-induced increases in elastases-type protease activity and matrix-metalloproteinases-1 (MMP-1) expression in skin cells. The degradation of the extracellular matrix (EM) in skin tissue as a result of solar irradiation is of prime concern in skincare. This is one of the major biological events that leads to photo-aging and is mediated by protein-degrading enzymes like elastases-type protease and MMP-1.

Figure 3: Effects of Sch B pretreatment on cellular elastases-type protease activity in solar-irradiated BJ human fibroblasts

Figure 4: Effects of Sch B pretreatment on cellular MMP-1 level in solar-irradiated BJ human fibroblasts

Schisandrin B is a key component of Glissandrin™, a potent anti-aging skincare ingredient that has been the subject of over 100 research papers. In-vivo and in-vitro studies have proven the ability of Glissandrin to reverse mitochondrial decay , the leading cause of aging, and to simultaneously enhance the cell’s natural ability to fight oxidative damage.

Other studies have shown the ability of Schisandrin B to suppress collagenase, an enzyme responsible for the depletion of collagen in skin cells. Research has also been conducted on the compound’s anti-cancer properties, particularly in the skin.

Figure 5: Mitochondria


Given that both spectra of solar light – UV and infrared radiation – are major causes of skin aging, Schisandrin B’s ability to enhance the skin’s antioxidant defenses against harmful solar irradiation, thereby offering the prospect of preventing skin photo-aging, is instigating a new era in skincare.

For more information

More information on Schisandrin B, mitochondrial decay, and theories of aging can be found at these independent websites:

• National Institutes of Health (
• PubMed (
• Natural Standard (

Background and References

Schisandrin B is a key component of Glissandrin™, the proprietary ingredient in Glissandra™ products.

Dr. Robert Ko holds a PhD from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He is currently a Professor in the Division of Life Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Chief Technology Officer of Glissandra Skincare Inc.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is ranked 41st among research universities worldwide by Times Higher Education 2010 (London, UK).

Lam PY, Leong PK, Chen N, Ko KM: Schisandrin B enhances the glutathione redox cycling and protects against oxidant injury in different types of cultured cells. Biofactors (in press).

Chiu, P.Y., and Ko, K.M. (2006). Schisandrin B-induced increase in cellular glutathione level and protection against oxidant injury are mediated by the enhancement of glutathione synthesis and regeneration in AML12 and H9c2 cells. Biofactors 26: 221-230.

Chiu, P.Y., Leung, H.Y., and Ko, K.M. (2008). Schisandrin B enhances renal mitochondrial antioxidant status, functional and structural integrity, and protects against gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity in rats. Biol. Pharm. Bull. 31: 602-605.

Chen, N., Chiu, P.Y., and Ko, K.M. (2008). Schisandrin B enhances cerebral mitochondrial antioxidant status and structural integrity, and protects against cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury in rats. Biol. Pharm. Bull. 31: 1387-1391.

Lam PY, Yan CW, Chiu PY, Leung HY, Ko KM. Schisandrin B protects against solar irradiation-induced oxidative stress in rat skin tissue. Fitoterapia 2011; 82: 393-400.

Chiu PY, PY Lam, Yan CW, Ko KM. Schisandrin B protects against solar irradiation-induced oxidative injury in BJ human fibroblasts. Fitoterapia 2011; 82: 682-691.

Nisida H, Tatewaki N, Magara T, Nakajima Y, Ko KM, Hamamori Y, Konishi T: Inhibition of ATR kinase activity by schisandrin B in DNA damage response. Nucleic Acid Res. 2009; 37: 5678-5689.


From Schisandra berry to Glissandrin

In our previous articles, we reported on advanced scientific research on the Schisandra berry and its incredible health-enhancing features.  But transforming the berry from its natural state into a useful form requires a meticulous extraction process and great care in developing a formulation that enables the berry’s potent properties to be optimally used by the body.

Though the Schisandra berry grows abundantly in parts of Asia, it is not simply the berry in its natural state that produces the greatest health benefits.  The concentrations of the key compounds, (-) Schisandrin B, Schisandrin B, (±)γ-Schisandrin, Schisandrin A, and Schisandrin C, in the natural berries are minute. Additionally, neither compound is soluble in water.  Therefore, crushed berries, berry juice, and Schisandra extracts obtained by ordinary methods contain insignificant amounts of the compounds.

To put this in perspective: the amount of (-) Schisandrin B and Schisandrin A in a single bottle of Glissandra Serum is equivalent to that of a hot tub overflowing with Schisandra berries!  One would have to devote significant time and financial resources to consuming that amount of berries – for a less effective result.

As this relates to skincare, (-) Schisandrin B and Schisandrin A must be in forms that can be absorbed easily by the skin. Furthermore, as natural compounds, optimal dosages must be determined and the intended beneficial effects must be ascertained; this can be done only through clinical studies.

For over 18 years, scientists have been researching and developing Glissandrin, which is procured by a proprietary extraction process that renders (-) Schisandrin B and Schisandrin A in lipid soluble forms, guaranteeing the highest degree of purity (Glissandrins are standardized for consistency in the concentration of Schisandrins), desired level of biological activity, and anti-aging efficacies, while preserving the original chemical identities of the natural compounds.

Despite the over 100 research papers already published by world-class research institutions corroborating the anti-aging and other beneficial properties of these compounds, scientists continue to discover new pharmacological properties of (-) Schisandrin B and Schisandrin A.

Nature’s contribution to advanced skincare: the Schisandra berry

By now, you’ve likely heard the growing buzz about the Schisandra berry, which is finally beginning to get the widespread attention it deserves, outside the scientific community. It is not just the next disposable “superberry”; Schisandra has been proven to have a significant, positive effect on aging skin.

The Schisandra berry has long been recognized as one of the 50 fundamental herbs of traditional Chinese medicine, and as the key to maintaining youth and radiance. It is now regarded as a vital adaptogen that helps the body achieve a balanced state and adapt to physical, mental, environmental and other stresses.

The Schisandra berry has exciting qualities and applications relating to its status as an adaptogen. It helps the body’s cells maintain and normalize the optimum conditions for their vital functioning. The Schisandra berry is naturally rich in antioxidants, and research suggests that it acts as an antioxidant-site stimulator. In this role, it has been seen to increase antioxidant activity throughout the body, helping fight free radical damage not only by providing its own antioxidants, but also by helping to stimulate antioxidants already present in the body – unlike other, supposed “superberries”.

So how does this affect our skin as we age?

Aging is a phenomenon that occurs in the body’s cells. Its effects are more apparent on the skin, body’s largest organ, and especially noticeable on the face. Aging brings about the depletion of cellular components (such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, etc.), oxidative damage, and inflammation – causing a loss of elasticity, pigmentation, radiance, and other visible signs of aging.

According to extensive research, Schisandra has been found to be “a safe and effective ingredient for the prevention and treatment of hyperproliferative and inflammatory skin conditions and offers a new concept for personal care cosmetics” (Quirin et al.).

However, concentrations of the key compounds, (-) Schisandrin B and Schisandrin A, in the original berries are minute. Ground Schisandra berries, berry juice, or Schisandra extracts collected by ordinary methods contain insignificant amounts of the potent compounds, thereby limiting the benefits to the skin. It is only through a proprietary extraction process that the anti-aging properties of the Schisandra berry can be absorbed by the skin.

Consumer Reports rates anti-wrinkle serums

Earlier this month, Consumer Reports released the findings of their recent anti-wrinkle serum tests. The verdict: that the products they evaluated fell short on their claims. Citing inconsistent results and only minor improvements to the wrinkles of their research subjects, the organization all but dismissed anti-aging products entirely. If readers caught only the headlines, they’d find themselves considerably misinformed about the efficacy of certain products available on the market today.

It’s difficult to argue with some of the points brought up in the report, which suggests that consumers focus on moisturizing and sun protection. However, Consumer Reports neglects to investigate the reason why the serums they tested failed: the products don’t necessarily address anti-aging holistically. It is a stretch to imply that anti-wrinkle serums don’t work; after all, Consumer Reports tested only nine well-known brands, none of which take a comprehensive approach by targeting all accepted causes of skin aging.

Scientific research in the area of gerontology has found that a number of factors contribute to skin aging, including inflammation, external adverse environmental factors, and the depletion of cellular components, such as collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. Oxidative (free radical-induced) damage is often cited as a culprit, and products are loaded with antioxidants accordingly, despite their limited ability to produce results.

Scientists have now discovered the fundamental cause of skin aging: mitochondrial decay. For that reason, an effective anti-aging serum must include ingredients to address all causes of skin aging, but particularly mitochondrial decay. Fortunately for consumers, potent extracts from the schisandra berry have been proven to be effective in reversing age-related mitochondrial deterioration – so a real anti-wrinkle serum, one that lives up to its promises, does indeed exist.