Jujube is a tree that produces a date-like fruit. Jujube benefits the body in its ability to support sleep and gut health.
Both the seeds and fruit have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to improve sleep quality, support the nervous system, and encourage healthy digestion.
Modern research shows that jujube may be helpful for brain health, sleep, and gastrointestinal issues.
In this article, we will look at the health benefits of jujube, its safety, and its history.
Table of Contents
- What is Jujube?
- Health Benefits of Jujube:
- Jujube Safety:
- Naming & Taxonomy:
- History & Traditional Use:
What is Jujube?
Jujube is a date-like fruit that grows on the Ziziphus jujuba tree. This deciduous tree has multiple varieties and is native to temperate areas throughout Asia.
Other common names for jujube include red date, Chinese jujube, or Chinese date.
Both the fruit and the seeds of jujube are used for their various health benefits.
Jujube seeds have a sedative effect on the body that has been shown to promote sleep.
The dried fruit is commonly used to support a healthy gastrointestinal tract and protect the nervous system.
Modern research shows that jujube fruit also has anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and anti-anemic effects. These various health benefits are attributed to the jujubosides, flavonoids, terpenes, and saponins – phytochemicals present in jujubes.
Health Benefits of Jujube:
Jujube is a well-researched fruit – although not many human trials are available. Many of its traditional uses have been scientifically tested (via animal and in vitro trials) and confirmed to be effective.
Below are the 6 key jujube benefits for health.
1. May Improve Sleep
In a trial involving postmenopausal women, the administration of jujube seed improved total sleep time (as measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index). Researchers believe that this effect on sleep may be due to the presence of saponins in the seeds. These phytochemicals seem to support healthy sleep patterns by balancing out a system in the brain that regulates emotions, memory, and arousal.
In an animal study, researchers discovered that a group of phytochemicals isolated from jujube seeds, known as saponins, were able to impart a sedative and hypnotic effect on mice.
Another animal study demonstrated the ability of spinosin to prolong sleep time and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Spinosin is a flavonoid found in the seeds of Ziziphus jujuba.
Summary:Research shows that jujube appears to be able to improve sleep quality, especially total sleep duration. Additional clinical trials are needed to verify initial findings as well as the exact mechanism of action.
2. May Support a Healthy Gastrointestinal Tract
Research shows that jujube benefits the GI tract. The fruit of Ziziphus jujuba is known to support a number of ailments that involve the gastrointestinal tract.
Gastrointestinal tract health involves a number of key organs such as the stomach, small and larger intestines, and bowel movements. Important processes like digestion and nutrient absorption are carried out in this system.
A 12-week study demonstrated the benefits of jujube fruit extract in individuals with chronic constipation. Participants noted an improvement in transit time during bowel movements after receiving the liquid jujube extract. After 12 weeks, the frequency of bowel movements increased from 1 every 2-3 days, to 1 every day.
In a recent animal study, polysaccharides that were extracted from Ziziphus jujuba were found to bring balance to intestinal microbiota in mice. This discovery shows that jujube fruit may be helpful for the gut when used as a prebiotic.
Another animal study proved that polysaccharides found in jujube may have the ability to protect the GI tract, which makes jujube one of the best herbs for inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers pointed out that this may be due to the polysaccharide’s action of enhancing the intestinal barrier function.
Summary:It appears that jujube benefits digestive health. Additional clinical trials are needed to verify initial findings.
3. May Reduce Diabetic Symptoms
Jujube fruit has shown promise towards supporting individuals with diabetes.
Type II diabetes is characterized by excess glucose in the bloodstream (i.e. high blood sugar) and a lack of insulin production in the pancreas. This can lead to constant hunger, vision problems, kidney disease, weight gain, and more.
In a clinical trial involving 116 participants with Type II Diabetes, a Ziziphus jujube fruit infusion was able to improve glucose levels and lipid metabolism. The infusion was taken 3x/day for 12 weeks and encouraged an increase in HDL cholesterol (i.e. the good cholesterol), the level of antioxidants in the blood, and decreased levels of LDL cholesterol (i.e. bad cholesterol).
In an animal study with diabetic rats, jujube fruit powder was able to improve diabetic symptoms such as blood glucose and insulin levels over a 2-week period.
In another animal study, an extract containing jujube, saffron (Crocus sativus), and barberry (Berberis vulgaris) was able to decrease the effects of oxidative stress and plaque build-up in the arteries of diabetic rats. The blend was also shown to decrease glucose levels in the blood and ameliorate other diabetic symptoms.
An in vitro study discovered that an extract of Annona reticulata bark and Ziziphus jujuba root bark was able to decrease neurological symptoms that stem from diabetes. The extract proved to inhibit oxidative stress and reduce inflammation.
Summary:One primary human clinical trial indicates the that jujube may benefit individuals with type II diabetes. Further human clinical trials are needed to verify these findings.
4. Neuroprotective Properties
Various animal studies show that jujube benefits and protect the nervous system.
An extract of jujube fruit administered to gerbils proved to have a neuroprotective effect after 10 days. The extract prevented damage that occurred when the gerbils weren’t getting enough blood to their brains.
In another animal study, jujube fruit extract increased learning and memory for rats that underwent a platform-climbing test. Researchers mention that this may be due to jujube’s effect on hormone and neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
Jujube fruit extract also demonstrated regulation effects on proteins and peptides that support neuron growth and survival. The extract was administered to in vitro brain cells called astrocytes.
Another in vitro study discovered that an extract of Annona reticulata bark and Ziziphus jujuba root bark was able to decrease neurological symptoms that stem from diabetes. The extract proved to inhibit oxidative stress and reduce inflammation.
Summary:Exploratory animal and lab-based studies indicate that jujube may be able to increase learning, improve memory, and support brain health. Human clinical trials are needed to verify these initial findings.
5. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Another benefit of jujube is its anti-inflammatory properties.
An animal trial demonstrated jujube fruit’s ability to decrease chronic inflammation after 7 days. Researchers mentioned that the effects may be due to the jujubosides, flavonoids, and terpenes present in jujube fruit, which are known for their anti-inflammatory actions.
An in vitro study using jujube fruit extract showed that it was able to regulate the pro-inflammatory response of white blood cells. The extract was administered on the WBCs (macrophages), the researchers note that it was fast-acting as results appeared around the 24-hour mark.
Summary:Lab studies suggest that the constituents of jujube may be the cause of this fruit’s ability to reduce chronic inflammation. Further research, however, is needed to confirm this finding.
6. Other Benefits
Other purported jujube health benefits include:
- May Support Against Anemia: A water extract from the jujube fruit was able to correct anemia in rats that were iron-deficient.
- May Reduce Anxiety: An animal study found that jujube seed extract had an anxiolytic effect in mice.
Summary:Jujube fruit has been tied to a wide variety of health benefits, but human clinical trials are needed to verify these findings.
Safety Class: 1
Interaction Class: A
The Botanical Safety Handbook puts jujube in the safety class of 1, meaning it can be safely used by most individuals.
It has an interaction class of “A” which suggests that no clinically relevant adverse reactions are expected to occur.
Jujube is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Some allergic reactions to the Indian jujube fruit (Ziziphus mauritiana) have been reported, although they are rare.
Pregnancy & Lactation:
Due to a lack of safety data and evidence, jujube fruit should only be consumed during pregnancy and lactation under the supervision of a qualified health care practitioner.
Standard dosing for jujube fruit is as follows:
Infusion (tea): 300ml, 3x/day
Dried Fruit: 84g dried fruits per serving
Fluid Extract: 20-40 drops/day
Fruit Juice: 15g/day
Fruit Powder: 5g, 3x/day
Standard dosing for jujube seed is as follows:
Seed Capsule: 250mg, 2x/day
Jujube is not on the United Plant Saver’s “at-risk” list (sensitive to the impact of human activities).
The jujube tree, fruit, and seeds have been cultivated in China for at least 7240 years and 95% of production still remains in China. Jujube is distributed worldwide from China to the US, most of Asia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.
Naming & Taxonomy:
Jujube’s scientific name is Zizyphus jujuba. It belongs to the Rhamnaceae family and is a deciduous fruit tree that is one of the oldest cultivated trees in the world.
Other common names for jujube include red date, Chinese jujube, or Chinese date.
As a highly adaptive tree, the jujube tree can grow up to 30ft tall bearing bright red fruit. The leaves are long and shiny and the flowers bloom yellow in groups of two or three.
There are more than 700 different varieties of jujube in China alone. The fruit can vary in size, shape, and taste, however, each variety carries fruit that is rich in nutrients, vitamins, and phytochemicals that impart health benefits.
Other popular varieties include:
- Chico jujube
- Contorted jujube
- GA 866 jujube
- Honey Jar jujube
- Shanxi Li jujube
In the traditional Chinese book Qi Min Yao Shu which was written over 1500 years ago, there is mention of planting, cultivation, pruning, flower thinning, and the making of jujube paste.
Jujube doesn’t have a high demand for water and is very drought-tolerant. It even has the ability to self-prune. The tree is also very quick to bloom after planting and after only 3 years can bear satisfactory amounts of fruit.
Both the tree and fruit (commonly dried and stored) are very low maintenance. The fruit can be stored (dried) for over a year at room temp and even longer (2-3 years) if kept at refrigerated temperatures.
Jujube tree will flower around June and bear fruit 2 months later. The fresh fruit has a sweet, crisp taste, similar to an apple or pear.
History & Traditional Use:
Jujube has a long history of use in China.
Cultivation of the tree began over 700 years ago. A 3,000-year-old Chinese text contains a collection of poems that mention that the “Jujube fruit is picked in August and rice is harvested in October.”
Apart from the consumption of jujube fruit as food, jujube also has a deep history in traditional Chinese medicine. The medical texts, Shennong Bencao Jing (300 BCE–200 CE) and Huangdi Neijing (475–221 BCE), both mention jujube fruit as being medicinally valuable. The earlier text describes it as being a blood-nourisher, sleep aid, and support for the digestive system.
As far back as 2,000 years ago, jujube fruit was harvested and distributed on a commercial level in China. It was introduced to Japan, Korea, Europe, and Central Asia via the Silk Road.
In traditional Chinese medicine, jujube fruit is symbolic of fertility, a sweet life, and harmony. It was used to treat blood deficiencies and regulate the digestive system. The seeds were used for sleep complaints. The fruit was also said to relieve mental tension and calm the mind.
Jujube fruit and seeds have been known to cover a range of health ailments, being especially supportive for sleep, gastrointestinal issues, and neuroprotection.
The fruit also appears to have strong potential for reducing diabetic symptoms, inflammation, and remedying anemia.
The jujube fruit is safe to consume fresh or dried and is also commonly taken in extract or juice form for different types of ailments.
It is worth checking into jujube if you have been experiencing any of the above indications. As always, make sure to consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet or adding a new supplement.
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