Jujube seeds

Chinese: 酸枣仁

Pinyin: Suān Zǎo Rén

Parts used: Dried ripe seed

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

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): SourSweet

Meridian affinity: GallbladderHeartLiver

Scientific name: Ziziphus jujuba

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

Use of jujube seeds (Suān Zǎo Rén) 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 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 jujube seeds 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 jujube seeds are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind jujube seeds' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), jujube seeds are plants that belong 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 jujube seeds are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that jujube seeds typically don'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 jujube seeds means that you don't have to worry about that!

Jujube seeds also taste Sour and 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. Sour ingredients like jujube seeds help 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 jujube seeds are thought to target the Gallbladder, the Heart and the Liver. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gall Bladder 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 "spirit" 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 body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on jujube seeds

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.