Evidence Based
4.2 /5
1

7 Jujube Fruit (Ziziphus Jujuba) Health Benefits

Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Last updated:
Evguenia Alechine
Puya Yazdi
Medically reviewed by
Evguenia Alechine, PhD (Biochemistry), Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Last updated:

SelfHacked has the strictest sourcing guidelines in the health industry and we almost exclusively link to medically peer-reviewed studies, usually on PubMed. We believe that the most accurate information is found directly in the scientific source.

We are dedicated to providing the most scientifically valid, unbiased, and comprehensive information on any given topic.

Our team comprises of trained MDs, PhDs, pharmacists, qualified scientists, and certified health and wellness specialists.

All of our content is written by scientists and people with a strong science background.

Our science team is put through the strictest vetting process in the health industry and we often reject applicants who have written articles for many of the largest health websites that are deemed trustworthy. Our science team must pass long technical science tests, difficult logical reasoning and reading comprehension tests. They are continually monitored by our internal peer-review process and if we see anyone making material science errors, we don't let them write for us again.

Our goal is to not have a single piece of inaccurate information on this website. If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please leave a comment or contact us at [email protected]

Note that each number in parentheses [1, 2, 3, etc.] is a clickable link to peer-reviewed scientific studies. A plus sign next to the number “[1+, 2+, etc...]” means that the information is found within the full scientific study rather than the abstract.

Sleeping man

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 potential health benefits of this fruit, as well as its other uses, interactions, and risks.

What Is Jujube?

Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba) is a fruit-bearing plant first domesticated in South Asia around 9,000 B.C. Jujube is known by more than 40 names around the world, being “red date” and “Chinese date” the most common ones in English. The two most popular varieties are Li and Lang.

Traditionally used in Chinese medicine, 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 [1].

Active Compounds in Jujube

Jujube is a natural source of active compounds such as flavonoids and triterpenoids [1, 2]:

Flavonoids

  • Apigenin: with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activities [3, 4]
  • Isovitexin: with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties [5]
  • Puerarin: a glycoside with anti-aging properties [6]
  • Spinosyn: a C-glycoside with sedative properties [7, 8]

Triterpenoids

  • Oleanolic acid: also known as oleanic acid, this compound has potential antiviral and antitumor properties [9, 10]
  • Ursolic acid: with anti-inflammatory, liver-protective, and antitumor activities [9, 11]
  • Pomolic acid: with anti-inflammatory and anticancer potential [12]

Others

  • Sanjoinine A: an alkaloid with anti-anxiety effects [13]
  • Oleic acid: a fatty acid abundant in olive oil that promotes heart health [14]
  • Ziziphin: a compound unique to jujube leaves that blocks the human taste receptors for sweetness [15]

Jujube also contains many essential vitamins and minerals such as [16, 17]:

Snapshot

Proponents

  • May lower blood cholesterol, thus helping prevent heart disease
  • May improve blood sugar control
  • May improve sleep quality
  • May improve digestive issues
  • May improve anxiety and depression
  • May help remove heavy metals from breast milk
  • The bark has potential uses in drug delivery systems

Skeptics

  • Insufficient evidence for most benefits
  • Many trials tested jujube in combination with other herbal extracts
  • Unknown safe profile

Health Benefits

Possibly Effective:

1) Heart Health

Jujube fruit powder (3x/day for one month) decreased total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels in a clinical trial on 70 obese adolescents with high blood fat levels. This may reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing artery hardening [18].

In another trial on 116 people with type 2 diabetes, a balanced diet in combination with jujube infusion (10 g/100 mL boiling water) before meals for 12 weeks lowered triglycerides, total cholesterol, and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) [19].

Similarly, it increased the levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) in diabetic and insulin-resistant mice [20, 21].

In diabetic rats, jujube extract reduced oxidative stress and thickening of arterial walls [22].

Although limited, the evidence suggests that jujube may reduce the risk of heart disease by improving blood fat profile. You may use jujube as a complementary approach if your doctor determines that it may be helpful in your case. Importantly, never take it in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes.

2) Blood Sugar

In a clinical trial on 11 healthy people, dried jujube fruits reduced blood sugar spikes after meals, especially if combined with almonds [23].

In another trial on 116 people with type 2 diabetes, a balanced diet combined with jujube infusion (10 g/100 mL boiling water) before meals for 12 weeks reduced a marker of poor blood sugar control (glycosylated hemoglobin) [19].

Jujube carbohydrates lowered fasting blood sugar and insulin levels in mice and rats with diabetes or fed a high-fructose diet [20, 21, 22].

Again, limited evidence suggests that jujube may help improve blood sugar control. You may discuss with your doctor if this fruit may benefit you. Remember that you should never take jujube instead of antidiabetic medication prescribed by your doctor.

Insufficient Evidence

1) Sleep Quality

An herbal tea with jujube fruits, Astragalus root, and Angelica gigas root consumed daily for 4 weeks improved sleep quality and reduced fatigue in a clinical trial on 20 people [24].

Suan Zao Ren Tang is a concoction containing jujube used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat insomnia. In a clinical trial on 90 people, this remedy improved sleep quality and efficiency. Suan Zao Ren Tang was also effective in combination with another traditional Chinese medicine (Zhi Zi Chi Tang) in another trial on 119 people with insomnia and anxiety [25, 26].

However, a complex with jujube extract (4.5 g/tablet), milk protein, hops extract, vitamin B6, and magnesium taken daily for 2 weeks was not more effective than placebo at improving sleep quality in a clinical trial on 171 people [27].

Jujube produced calming (sedative) effects in mice at higher doses [28, 8, 29].

Spinosyn, found in jujube, decreased the time to fall asleep and increased sleep length in mice [8, 7].

Jujubosides in jujube fruit increased the duration of REM sleep in rats [30].

Although the results of most clinical trials are promising, they all tested jujube as part of multi-herbal extracts, making the specific contribution of jujube difficult to estimate. More clinical trials with jujube alone are needed to establish its effects.

2) Digestive Health

In a clinical trial on 37 chronically constipated people, jujube extract reduced constipation and increased quality of life [31].

Jujube leaf extract protected against castor oil-induced diarrhea and alcohol-induced stomach ulcers in rats [32, 33].

Jujube extract also shortened digestion time and protected against oxidative stress and excess gut ammonia in rodents [17, 34].

A single clinical trial and some animal research cannot be considered sufficient evidence to claim that jujube improves digestive issues. Larger, more robust clinical trials are needed to validate these preliminary results.

3) Anxiety and Depression

Two traditional Chinese formulations (Suan Zao Ren Tang and Zhi Zi Chi Tang) reduced anxiety and sleep disturbances in a clinical trial on 119 people when taken in combination daily for 4 weeks [26].

Jujube seeds significantly reduced anxiety in mice. Their component sanjoinine A, was as effective as the anti-anxiety medication Valium [35, 13].

Jujube seeds also contain saponins like jujuboside A and B, which increase GABA receptor activity. Depression and anxiety are linked to low GABA levels [36, 37, 38, 39].

Inflammation may be involved in the development and progression of depression. A concoction with jujube, wheat, hawthorn, and lily decreased depressive symptoms and the levels of a pro-inflammatory cytokine (TNF-α) in mice [40].

A single clinical trial (using jujube in combination with several other extracts) and some animal research are insufficient to support this potential health benefit of jujube. Further clinical research testing jujube alone is needed to establish its potential use against anxiety and depression.

4) Removing Heavy Metals from Breast Milk

In a clinical trial on 40 women who had recently given birth, those who ate fresh jujube fruits daily had lower concentrations of toxic heavy metals such as lead and cadmium in their breast milk [41].

Larger, more robust clinical trials are needed to confirm this preliminary result.

5) Drug Delivery

Jujube bark was successfully tested in adhesive discs to deliver drugs to patients with mouth disease in both a gelatin layer and a small trial on 10 healthy volunteers. Further research is needed until jujube bark can be used as part of drug delivery systems [42].

Animal and Cell Research (Lack of Evidence)

Cognitive Function

Rats given jujube extract before alcohol had improved spatial memory and learning capacity [43, 44].

Jujube extract increased nerve cell growth and development in the dentate gyrus of mice [45, 46].

Estrogen-deficient rats treated with jujube had improved learning and memory function. Jujube also increased estrogen levels in the blood and acetylcholine levels in the brain [47].

Seizures

Jujube extract protected against seizures, improved brain function, and reduced oxidative stress in epileptic rats [48].

Reducing Brain Damage

Glutamate is an important excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. Too much glutamate may cause brain damage in conditions such as stroke, epilepsy, or Parkinson’s. Jujuboside A, a compound in jujube, reduced glutamate levels [29].

Amyloid beta (Aβ) plaques are involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Ziziphus mucronota, a close relative of jujube with some of the same active compounds, reduced the toxic effects of Aβ plaques in human brain cells [49].

Astrocytes are star-shaped cells found in the brain that protect neurons by releasing growth factors and controlling antioxidant enzyme levels. Jujube extract improved their function in cell-based studies [50].

Immunity and Inflammation

Jujube is rich in vitamin C (534.94 mg/100 g). This vitamin supports immune function and prevents infections by increasing the production of beneficial inflammatory cytokines [51, 52].

Betulinic acid found in jujube fruit protected immune cells from inflammation caused by an anticancer drug (doxorubicin) [53].

CKBM is a jujube-containing concoction commonly used for inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. CKBM reduced inflammatory cytokine (IFN-gamma) production in a study in immune cells (T and B cells) [54].

Skin Health

Jujube has been traditionally used to treat eczema. In a study in mice, jujube essential oil (1% and 10%) reduced skin inflammation [55].

Hair Growth

Jujube essential oil (1%) applied to shaved skin increased the number of hair follicles and hair length in mice [56].

Infections

Jujube extract had antibacterial activity against potentially infectious bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and E. coli, in test tubes [57, 58].

Jujube was also slightly toxic to many species of fungi, including Candida albicans [59, 58].

Betulinic acid from jujube prevented the replication and development of the HIV-1 virus [60].

Note, however, that these are very preliminary results that haven’t been replicated in humans and even in animals. More studies are needed to determine if jujube, when ingested at normal doses, may be of any use against the infections caused by these microorganisms.

Cancer

Below, we will discuss some preliminary research on jujube’s anticancer potential. It’s still in the animal and cell stage and further clinical research has yet to determine if its compounds are useful in cancer therapies.

Do not under any circumstances attempt to replace conventional cancer therapies with jujube, its components, or any other dietary interventions. If you want to use it as a supportive measure, talk to your doctor to avoid any unexpected interactions.

Jujuboside B killed stomach cancer cells in test tubes and suppressed stomach cancer tumor growth in mice [61].

Betulinic acid and triterpenoids found killed brain cancer cells in mice with brain tumors and multiple cancer types in cell-based studies [11, 62, 63].

Ursolic acid found in jujube fruit may protect against breast, colon, and liver cancer cells by triggering cell death, as seen in animal and cell-based studies [11, 1].

The anticancer effect of jujube added to that of green tea in liver cancer cells [64].

Side Effects and Drug Interactions

Keep in mind that the safety profile of jujube is relatively unknown, given the lack of well-designed clinical studies. The list of side effects below is not a definite one and you should consult your doctor about other potential side effects based on your health condition and possible drug or supplement interactions.

Jujube is generally safe when ingested in normal food doses. Indeed, no adverse effects have been reported in the few clinical trials carried out so far.

Pomonic acid is a compound found in jujube that may increase the risk of fatty liver disease based on the results of a cell-based study [65].

Supplement/Herb/Nutrient-drug interactions can be dangerous and, in rare cases, even life-threatening. Always consult your doctor before supplementing and let them know about all drugs and supplements you are using or considering.

Jujube extract (100 mg/kg) increased the effects of antiepileptic drugs in rats [66].

Dosage

Because jujube is not approved by the FDA for any condition, there is no official dose. Users and supplement manufacturers have established unofficial doses based on trial and error. Discuss with your doctor if jujube may be useful as a complementary approach in your case and which dose you should take.

The doses used in clinical trials testing jujube alone were:

  • Blood cholesterol levels: 5 g of jujube fruit powder 3x/day or 300 mL of an infusion (10 g/100 mL) 3x/day [18, 19]
  • Blood sugar control: 84 g dried fruits per serving or 300 mL of an infusion (10 g/100 mL) 3x/day [23, 19]
  • Constipation 20-40 drops of extract per day [31]
  • Heavy metal removal from breast milk: 15 g/day jujube fruit juice [41]

User Experiences

The opinions expressed in this section are solely those of jujube users, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Their reviews do not represent the opinions of SelfDecode. SelfDecode does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

Do not consider user experiences as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers because of something you have read on SelfDecode. We understand that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.

Many users reported taking jujube as part of a supplement to reduce anxiety or improve memory. Some satisfied users claimed that it curbed their anxiety and improved their sleep quality.

However, dissatisfied users complained that jujube had no effect in their case. Some users were worried about the potential of jujube to increase GABA receptor activity.

About the Author

Carlos Tello

Carlos Tello

PhD (Molecular Biology)
Carlos received his PhD and MS from the Universidad de Sevilla.
Carlos spent 9 years in the laboratory investigating mineral transport in plants. He then started working as a freelancer, mainly in science writing, editing, and consulting. Carlos is passionate about learning the mechanisms behind biological processes and communicating science to both academic and non-academic audiences. He strongly believes that scientific literacy is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid falling for scams.

Click here to subscribe

RATE THIS ARTICLE

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(10 votes, average: 4.20 out of 5)
Loading...

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.