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.
Ziziphus Jujuba of the Middle East: Source [ 1 ].
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 [ 2 ].
Jujube is a natural source of active compounds such as flavonoids and triterpenoids [ 2 , 3 ]: Flavonoids
Oleanolic acid: Also known as oleanic acid, a compound with antitumor, antiviral, and anti-HIV properties [ 10 , 11 ].
Ursolic acid : A compound with anti-inflammatory and antitumor activities which may heal liver injury [ 10 , 12 ].
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 [ 15 , 16 ].
Ziziphin: A compound unique to jujube leaves that blocks human taste receptors for sweetness [ 17 ].
Jujube also contains many essential vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy cells [ 18 , 19 ]: 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 [ 20 ].
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 [ 21 , 22 , 23 ].
Jujube increased HDL levels in diabetic and insulin-resistant mice [ 24 , 25 ].
Jujube extract reduced oxidative stress and thickening of arterial walls in diabetic rats [ 26 ]. 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 [ 27 ].
Jujube leaf extract protected against castor oil -induced diarrhea in rats [ 28 ].
In rats, jujube stem bark protected against stomach ulcers caused by alcohol [ 29 ].
Jujube extract shortened digestion time and protected against oxidative stress and excess ammonia in the gut in rodents [ 19 , 30 ]. 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 [ 31 ].
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 [ 32 ].
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 [ 33 ]. 4) Jujube May Improve Cognitive Function
Alcohol disrupts learning and memory. Rats treated with jujube extract before being given alcohol had improved spatial memory and learning capacity [ 34 , 35 ].
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 [ 36 , 37 ].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 [ 38 ]. 5) Jujube May Improve Sleep and Treat Insomnia Spinosyn, found in jujube, decreased the time to fall asleep and increased sleep length in mice [ 9 , 8 ]. Jujubosides in jujube fruit increased the duration of REM sleep in rats [ 39 ]. Jujube produced calming (sedative) effects in mice at higher doses [ 40, 9 , 31 ]. 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 [ 41 ]. 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 [ 42 ]. 6) Jujube May Protect Against Seizures Jujube extract protected against seizures, improved brain function, and reduced oxidative stress in epileptic rats [ 43 ]. 7) Jujube May Treat Anxiety and Depression Jujube significantly reduces anxiety in mice. Sanjoinine A, a major compound in Jujube, reduced anxiety comparable to the popular anti-anxiety medication Valium [ 44 , 14 ].Jujube seeds contain saponins like jujuboside A/B, which increase GABA receptor activity. Depression and anxiety are linked to low GABA levels [ 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 ].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 [ 49 ]. 8) Jujube Improves Immunity and Reduces Inflammation Jujube is rich in vitamin C (534.94 mg/100 g), which supports immune function and prevents infections by increasing the production of beneficial inflammatory cytokines [ 50 , 51 ].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 [ 52 ].Allergies are often associated with inflammation due to increased inflammatory […]