English: Jujube seeds

Chinese: 酸枣仁

Parts used: Dried ripe seed

TCM category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): SourSweet

Organ affinity: Gallbladder Heart Liver

Scientific name: Ziziphus jujuba

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

Use of Suan Zao Ren (jujube seeds) 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 mature fruits, remove flesh and seed shells, collect seeds and dry them

Dosage: 6 - 18 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Nourishes the Heart Yin and calms the spirit. Contains Fluid leakage.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Suan Zao Ren may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Insomnia Palpitations Restlessness Night sweats

Contraindications*: Should not be used when there is extreme Fire in the body nor in cases of severe diarrhea.

Common TCM formulas in which Suan Zao Ren is used*

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

Suan Zao Ren is a deputy ingredient in Gui Pi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Source date: 16th century

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney. Clears away pathogenic Heat, clears Deficient Heat. Sedative.

Conditions targeted*: Perimenopausal syndromeChronic urticaria and others

Suan Zao Ren is an assistant ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, Suan Zao Ren works together with Schisandra berries (Wu Wei Zi), another assistant in this formula, to prevent the leakage of Heart Qi and Yin Fluids.

Read more about Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Bu Gan Tang

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies and regulates the Blood. Nourishes the Liver Yin.

Conditions targeted*: PhotophobiaAnemia and others

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

In Bu Gan Tang, Suan Zao Ren nourishes the Heart Yin and calms the Mind

Read more about Bu Gan Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Suan Zao Ren's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Suan Zao Ren belongs to the 'Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit' category. These herbs are substances that tranquilize the Mind and treat symptoms such as restlessness, palpitations, anxiety or insomnia. They tend to have sedative properties by tonifying Heart Yin and Blood as in TCM it is believed that the Heart is the store of the Mind.

Furthermore Suan Zao Ren is Neutral in nature. This means that Suan Zao Ren typically doesn't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of Suan Zao Ren means that you don't have to worry about that!

Suan Zao Ren also tastes Sour and 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. Sour ingredients like Suan Zao Ren helps with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of Fluids from the body, such as diarrhea or heavy sweating. On the other hand Sweet ingredients 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 Suan Zao Ren is thought to target the Gallbladder, the Heart and the Liver. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gallbladder stores and releases bile produced by the Liver. It also controls the emotion of decisiveness. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. The Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on Suan Zao Ren

A study on mice suggested that Jujube seeds possess anxiolytic effect at lower doses and sedative effect at higher doses1

Sources:

1. WH Peng, MT Hsieh, YS Lee, YC Lin, J Liao (2000). "Anxiolytic effect of seed of Ziziphus jujuba in mouse models of anxiety". Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 72, Issue 3, Pages 435-441.