Jujube dates

Chinese: 大枣

Pinyin: Dà Zǎo

Parts used: Dried ripe fruit

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Scientific name: Ziziphus jujuba

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

Use of jujube dates (Dà Zǎo) 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 practitionner, 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 jujube dates 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 jujube dates are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind jujube dates' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), jujube dates are plants that belong 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 jujube dates are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that jujube dates tend 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 jujube dates can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Jujube dates also taste Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like jujube dates tend 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 jujube dates are thought to target the Spleen and the Stomach. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid 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 jujube dates

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 jujube dates as food

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