Jujube has been used to alleviate stress, reduce inflammation, and enhance immune health for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Read on to learn more about the health benefits of jujube, as well as its other uses, interactions, and risks.
What Is Jujube?
Ziziphus Jujuba of the Middle East: Source [R].
Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba) is a fruit-bearing plant first domesticated in South Asia around 9000 BCE. Jujube is known by more than 40 names around the world, being “red date” and “Chinese date” the most common. The two most popular varieties are Li and Lang.
Jujube is still used today to treat digestive disorders, high blood pressure, inflammation, fever, insomnia, and skin infections. More recently, jujube has been used in the food industry as a food additive and flavoring [R].
Active Compounds in Jujube
- Apigenin: A compound with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activities [R, R].
- Isovitexin: A compound with anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties [R].
- Puerarin: A glycoside with anti-aging properties [R].
- Spinosyn: A C-glycoside with sedative properties [R, R].
- Oleanolic acid: Also known as oleanic acid, a compound with antitumor, antiviral, and anti-HIV properties [R, R].
- Ursolic acid: A compound with anti-inflammatory and antitumor activities which may heal liver injury [R, R].
- Pomolic acid: A compound with anti-inflammatory and anticancer uses [R].
- Sanjoinine A: An alkaloid with anti-anxiety effects [R].
- Oleic acid: A fatty acid abundant in olive oil that has anti-cancer and pro-heart health properties, but is also linked to metabolic and inflammatory diseases [R, R].
- Ziziphin: A compound unique to jujube leaves that blocks human taste receptors for sweetness [R].
- Vitamins B1, B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, A, C, and E
- Magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc
Health Benefits of Jujube
1) Jujube May Improve Heart Health and Decrease the Risk of Heart Disease
Jujube treatment (fruit powder, three times daily for one month) decreased total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels in obese patients with elevated fat levels in the blood [R].
Low levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) and excess fat in the blood (triglycerides) are heart disease risk factors and are linked to obesity. High levels of HDL cholesterol decrease hardening of the arteries and risk of heart disease [R, R, R].
2) Jujube Improves Gut Health
In one study (DB-RCT) of 37 chronically constipated people, jujube extract reduced constipation and increased quality of life compared to placebo [R].
Jujube leaf extract protected against castor oil-induced diarrhea in rats [R].
In rats, jujube stem bark protected against stomach ulcers caused by alcohol [R].
3) Jujube May Protect Against Brain Damage
Glutamate is an important excitatory (causes neurons to fire) neurotransmitter in the brain. Too much glutamate may cause brain damage in stroke, epilepsy, or Parkinson’s. Jujuboside A, a compound in jujube, reduces glutamate levels [R].
Amyloid beta (Aβ) plaques are involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Ziziphus mucronota, a close relative of jujube that contains the same compounds, reduced the toxic effects of Aβ plaques on neurons in human brain cells [R].
Astrocytes are star-shaped cells found in the brain that protect neurons by releasing growth factors and controlling antioxidant enzyme levels. Decreased neurotrophic factors and increased oxidative stress are linked to brain disease. Jujube extract improves astrocyte function [R].
4) Jujube May Improve Cognitive Function
The dentate gyrus is one of two known areas in the human brain where new neurons develop (neurogenesis). Jujube extract increased nerve cell growth and development in the dentate gyrus of mice [R, R].
Estrogen-deficient rats treated with jujube had improved learning and memory function. Jujube also increased estrogen levels in the blood and increased acetylcholine levels in the brain [R].
5) Jujube May Improve Sleep and Treat Insomnia
Jujubosides in jujube fruit increased the duration of REM sleep in rats [R].
Suan Zao Ren Tang is a concoction containing jujube that is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat insomnia, and which improves sleep quality and efficiency [R].
Suan Zao Ren Tang taken alongside Zhi Zi Chi Tang (another concoction in traditional Chinese medicine) improved sleep quality in people with insomnia and anxiety [R].
6) Jujube May Protect Against Seizures
Jujube extract protected against seizures, improved brain function, and reduced oxidative stress in epileptic rats [R].
7) Jujube May Treat Anxiety and Depression
Inflammation may be involved in the development and progression of depression. A jujube concoction (Z. jujuba, Crataegus pinnatifida, Triticum aestivum, and Lilium brownii) decreased depressive symptoms and inflammatory molecules (TNF-α) in mice [R].
8) Jujube Improves Immunity and Reduces Inflammation
Doxorubicin, a drug used to combat cancer, causes side effects, including severe inflammation. Betulinic acid found in jujube fruit protected immune cells from doxorubicin-induced inflammation [R].
Allergies are often associated with inflammation due to increased inflammatory cytokines. Jujube extract exhibited anti-allergy properties, preventing the release of histamine and other inflammatory molecules during the allergic response [R].
CKBM is a jujube-containing concoction that may treat inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. CKBM reduced inflammatory cytokine (IFN-gamma) production [R].
9) Jujube Has Antimicrobial Properties
Betulinic acid from jujube prevented replication and development of the HIV-1 virus [R].
10) Jujube May Protect Against Cancer
Jujuboside B killed human cancer cells (apoptosis) and suppressed tumor growth [R].
Betulinic acid was shown to kill some brain cancers (neuroblastoma, glioblastoma, and medulloblastoma) in rats [R].
11) Jujube May Benefit Skin Health
Jujube has been traditionally used to treat eczema [R].
Essential oil of Jujube seeds reduced skin inflammation in mice [R].
12) Jujube May Increase Hair Growth
Jujube essential oil (1%) applied to shaved skin increased the number of hair follicles and hair length in mice [R].
13) Jujube Improves Ovarian Health
Jujube is the active ingredient in a formula called Shilanum. Shilanum was 90% effective at preventing progression of ovarian cysts in 60 women, without significant side effects. Shilanum was similar in effect to high doses of birth control pills, which is often used to treat ovarian cysts [R].
14) Jujube May Aid Drug Delivery
One study used jujube bark in adhesive discs to effectively administer drugs to patients with mouth disease [R].
15) Jujube Removes Breast Milk Toxins
Women who ate fresh jujube fruit daily had lower concentrations of toxic lead and cadmium in their breast milk [R].
Drug Interactions and Risks
Jujube extract (100 mg/kg) increases the effects of antiepileptic drugs [R].
Pomonic acid is a compound found in jujube that may increase the risk of fatty liver disease [R].
In clinical trials, 5 g of Jujube fruit powder three times a day was used to improve cholesterol levels [R].
Many people take jujube as part of a supplement to reduce anxiety or improve memory.
Some users report jujube helps them have a more restful sleep.
Some people do not like to take jujube because it increases GABA receptor activity.