English: Jujube dates

Chinese: 大枣

Parts used: Dried ripe fruit

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Spleen Stomach

Scientific name: Ziziphus jujuba

Other names: Red date, Chinese date, Korean date, Indian date

Use of Da Zao (jujube dates) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Harvest when the fruit is mature, remove impurities and dry.

Dosage: 10 - 30 grams, this roughly calculates to 2 - 10 dates

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach Qi. Tonifies the Blood. Calms the Shen (spirit). Moderates the actions of other herbs in formula.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Da Zao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Insomnia Palpitations Restlessness Loss of appetite Fatigue Diarrhea

Contraindications*: Should not be used when there are conditions of Dampness, Food Stagnation, intestinal parasites and dental diseases.

Common TCM formulas in which Da Zao is used*

Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Treats the Lesser Yang Channels (Gallbladder and Triple Warmer). Regulates the Liver and Spleen functions. Addresses combined Yin-Yang symptoms of External and Internal, Excess and Deficiency, and Hot and Cold.

Conditions targeted*: HepatitisChronic cholecystitis and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Xiao Chai Hu Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

Read more about Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Reverses the flow of Rebellious Stomach Qi. Relieves both Heat and Cold Stagnation in the gastrointestinal tract.

Conditions targeted*: Peptic ulcersGastroesophageal reflux disease and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

Read more about Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang

Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Regulates the downward flow of Stomach Qi. Expectorant, treats hiccups.

Conditions targeted*: HiccupsChronic gastritis and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

Read more about Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang

Shi Zao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula key actions: Purges and drives out Phlegm-Fluids.

Conditions targeted*: Pericardial and pleural effusionsPneumonia and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Shi Zao Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Shi Zao Tang, Da Zao augment the Qi, protect the Stomach, and moderate the harshness and toxicity of the three other ingredients.

Read more about Shi Zao Tang

Da Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Promotes sweating. Releases the Exterior. Clears Interior Heat.

Conditions targeted*: Upper respiratory tract infectionsInfluenza and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Da Qing Long Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Da Qing Long Tang, Da Zao works together with Liquorice (Gan Cao), another assistant herb here, to tonify the Middle Burner Qi and provide the Essence from which the Fluids can be replenished.

They actively facilitate sweating in a context where Fluids may have been damaged by Internal Heat, while also moderating the drying action of the acrid and warming diaphoretic herbs.

Read more about Da Qing Long Tang

Mai Men Dong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Stomach. Generates Body Fluids. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Conditions targeted*: Lung atrophyLaryngitis and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Mai Men Dong Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Mai Men Dong Tang, Da Zao work closely with the king and deputy herbs to tonify the Stomach Qi and generate Body Fluids.

Read more about Mai Men Dong Tang

Gui Zhi Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Rectifies relationship between Yin and Yang. Harmonizes Heart and Kidney. Stabilizes and secures Essence.

Conditions targeted*: EnuresisUrinary incontinence and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Gui Zhi Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

Read more about Gui Zhi Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang

Xiao Jian Zhong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms and tonifies the Middle Burner (Spleen and Stomach). Tonifies Qi. Relieves spasmodic pain.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic gastritisPeptic ulcers and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Xiao Jian Zhong Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Xiao Jian Zhong Tang, Da Zao tonifies the protective Qi and strengthen the Middle Burner.

Read more about Xiao Jian Zhong Tang

Dang Gui Si Ni Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms the Channels. Disperses Cold. Nourishes the Blood. Unblocks the Blood vessels.

Conditions targeted*: Vascular headacheRaynaud's disease and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Dang Gui Si Ni Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Dang Gui Si Ni Tang, Da Zao supports Qi and strengthens the Spleen. It assists Dong Quai and White peony root in tonifying the Blood. It also helps Cinnamon twigs and Wild ginger in facilitating Qi flow. 

Read more about Dang Gui Si Ni Tang

Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang

Source date: Essentials from the Golden Cabinet

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Directs rebellious Qi downward. Stops hiccup. Augments Qi. Clears heat.

Conditions targeted*: Morning sicknessIncomplete pyloric obstruction and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang, Da Zao assists Ren Shen in augmenting the Qi

Read more about Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang

Ge Gen Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Releases the Exterior and muscle layer. Forms Body Fluids.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldCervical spine disease and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Ge Gen Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Ge Gen Tang, Da Zao regulates the Protective (Wei Qi) and Nutritive Qi (Rong Qi) and protects the Stomach from injury. 

Read more about Ge Gen Tang

Gui Zhi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Releases pathogens from the muscle layer. Regulates the Nutritive and Protective Qi.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Gui Zhi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Gui Zhi Tang, Da Zao helps Bai Shao nourish and harmonize the Nutritive Qi and the Blood.

Read more about Gui Zhi Tang

Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms and tonifies the Middle Burner (Spleen and Stomach). Tonifies Qi. Relieves spasmodic pain.

Conditions targeted*: Gastric ulcerGastralgia and others

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang, Da Zao tonifies the protective Qi and strengthen the Middle Burner.

Read more about Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang

Juan Bi Tang

Source date: 1178 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies and harmonizes the Protective and Nutritive Qi. Dispels Wind. Eliminates Dampness.

Conditions targeted*: Periarthritis of the shoulderRheumatoid arthritis and others

Da Zao is an envoy ingredient in Juan Bi Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

In Juan Bi Tang, Da Zao works together with Fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang), another envoy in this formula, to harmonize the nutritive and protective Qi, enhancing the formula's ability to dispel Wind and Dampness

Read more about Juan Bi Tang

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Conditions targeted*: Nervous exhaustionMyasthenia gravis and others

Da Zao is an envoy ingredient in Gui Pi Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang

Ba Zhen Tang

Source date: 1326 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies and augments Qi. Tonifies and augments Blood.

Conditions targeted*: AnemiaHepatitis and others

Da Zao is an envoy ingredient in Ba Zhen Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

In Ba Zhen Tang, Da Zao regulates Stomach and Spleen's absorptive function, thereby helping the other herbs in the formula to be absorbed.

Read more about Ba Zhen Tang

Da Chai Hu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Harmonizes and releases the Lesser Yang. Drains internal clumping due to Heat.

Conditions targeted*: CholecystitisCholelithiasis and others

Da Zao is an envoy ingredient in Da Chai Hu Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

In Da Chai Hu Tang, Da Zao assists White peony root in softening the Liver and easing abdominal pain. Both herbs also protects the Yin from injury by pathogenic Heat and from the harsh draining character of Rhubarb and Immature bitter orange. 

Read more about Da Chai Hu Tang

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Source date: 1247

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner). Raises the Yang. Detoxifies. Lifts what has sunken.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic hepatitisArrhythmia and others

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Xing Su San

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Dry-Cold. Disseminates the Lung Qi and relieves cough. Transforms thin mucus.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldBronchitis and others

Read more about Xing Su San

Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Diuretic, clears Excess fluid and removes edema. Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Calms External Wind.

Conditions targeted*: AscitesEdema and others

Read more about Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang

Source date: 1732 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Dries and dissolves Phlegm. Strengthens the Spleen. Smoothes the Liver and calms Liver Wind (antispasmodic).

Conditions targeted*: Meniere's diseaseHypertension and others

Read more about Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Conditions targeted*: HypertensionAngina and others

Read more about Wen Dan Tang

Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Nourishes the Heart. Calms the spirit.

Conditions targeted*: AnemiaNonhealing ulcers and others

In Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang, Da Zao regulates the nutritive and protective Qi and harmonizes the Spleen and Stomach. It ensures that this complex formula is properly assimilated, and blend its many ingredients into a harmonious whole.

Read more about Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Da Zao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Da Zao belongs to the 'Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Qi tonics are typically sweet and they tend to enter the Spleen and Lungs because these Organs are most involved with the production of Qi.

Furthermore Da Zao is Warm in nature. This means that Da Zao tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Da Zao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Da Zao also tastes Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like Da Zao tends to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Da Zao is thought to target the Spleen and the Stomach. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.

Research on Da Zao

A controlled clinical trial found Jujube Dates to be helpful for chronic constipation.1

In a clinical trial jujube was proved to be effective against neonatal jaundice.2

Research suggests jujube fruit has nootropic and neuroprotective properties.3

Jujube dates have stress-alleviating properties.4

Sources:

1. Naftali, T.; Feingelernt, H.; Lesin, Y.; Rauchwarger, A.; Konikoff, F.M. (2008). "Ziziphus jujuba extract for the treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation: A controlled clinical trial". Digestion. 78 (4): 224–228. doi:10.1159/000190975.

2. Ebrahimi, Sedigheh; Soheil Ashkani Esfahani; Azizollah Poormahmudi (2011). "Investigating the efficacy of Zizyphus jujuba on neonatal jaundice". Iranian Journal of Pediatrics. 21 (2): 320–324.

3. Pahuja, M; Mehla J; Reeta KH; Joshi S; Gupta YK. (2011). "Hydroalcoholic extract of Zizyphus jujuba ameliorates seizures, oxidative stress, and cognitive impairment in experimental models of epilepsy in rats". Epilepsy Behav. 21 (4): 356–363. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2011.05.013.

4. Mill Goetz P. "Demonstration of the psychotropic effect of mother tincture of Zizyphus jujuba" Phytotherapie 2009 7:1 (31–36)

Use of Da Zao as food

Da Zao is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Jujube Date Jam or Rice congee with jujube.