Health Benefits

Jujube fruit, seeds, leaves, bark and even roots have been shown to have beneficial properties. On this page we're focussing primarily on the beneficial effects which can be broken down into the following categories:

  1. As a calmative, reducing the effects of stress, particularly Insomnia and Anxiety
  2. Anti-cancer effects
  3. Protective and regenerative effects on the liver
  4. A rich source of Antioxidants
  5. Anti-inflammatory effects
  6. Uses in Traditional Chinese Medicine - see TCM page for more info
It's easy to make vague claims about health benefits. Many sites on the Web talk of 'boosting energy', 'removing toxins' or of something being 'a general health tonic'. Descriptions like these are impossible to substantiate and consequently should be viewed with skepticism.

At WA Jujubes we aim to stick to the facts, so everything mentioned below is backed up by scientific evidence with links to relevant studies or articles*. See the references section for full details[See disclaimer]

Calmative Effects

Jujubes and their derivatives have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat these conditions for many hundreds if not thousands of years. However it was only relatively recently that scientific research has started to investigate and has now confirmed that compounds within the Jujube do have a significant effect [2][11][12][16] on the activity levels within the brain. Most of these early studies are on animals but do consistently show both a reduced EEG activity and an also an increase in sleep time. The mode of action is less clear but there is a reduction in the Monoamine activity within the brain which affect the levels of neurotransmitters such as Serotonin which have a well established relationship with the sleep-wake cycle. Suggested active components include Saponins such as Jujubosides and also Flavinoids[2][12][16]. At lower levels, a calming effect is evident that can assist in treating cases of anxiety. At higher levels there is a mild sedative effect which can help in cases of insomnia or poor sleep pattern. Various commercial preparations[AD][AE] now exist that use Jujube extract as one of their ingredients, describing themselves as natural or herbal supplements. [See disclaimer]

Anti-Cancer Effects

Several studies [3][15][16] have reported a significant effect on the activity of tumour cells when measured in vitro.. Several different types of tumour cell were tested; in many cases there was an inhibitory effect and in certain cell types (such as those involved in Leukaemia) the tumour cells were actively killed by extracts of dried Zizyphus jujuba.. The results are very promising however these were in-vitro laboratory studies and clinical research is some way off.[See disclaimer]

Beneficial effects on The Liver

Jujubes and their derivatives have traditionally been used in Chinese medicine to treat both acute and chronic liver disorders - anything from relatively trivial ailments right up to life threatening diseases such as Hepatitis or Cirrhosis. Recent academic research has now shown that Jujube extracts increase both the capability of liver cells to recover from injury but also offer a protective effect to prevent further damage.[4][17][18][See disclaimer]

Dementia

Research is still at an early stage but some in vitro and in vivo experiments have been carried out demonstrating protective effects on cognitive impairment using extracts from Zizyphus jujuba[7][8][9]. The implications are that there may be benefits in the treatment of degenerative neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease. [See disclaimer]

Antioxidant Effects

The process of oxidation can produce free radicals - highly reactive but transitory biproducts of chemical reactions - which have been shown to cause injury to cells within the body and also damage DNA resulting in an increased risk of Cancer as well as other serious diseases such as Stroke, Heart Disease, Diabetes and some Neurological Diseases.

Whilst oxidation is an essential part of the metabolic process, these highly reactive free radicals can produce a chain reaction of oxidation that results in cell damage and death. Antioxidants absorb the free radicals without producing others as bi-products. This halts the cascade effect and thus offers a degree of protection against the damaging effects of oxidative stress

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is not produced naturally by the human body and requires supplementation from the diet. Jujube fruit contains one of the highest levels of Vitamin C of any fruits, providing approximately 10 times that found in Oranges[AI] - a fruit well known for it's Vitamin C content.

Betulinic Acid is another antioxidant found in Jujubes and their derivatives which have been shown to have benefical effects on various types of tumor cell [13][14]. A web search on this compound will highlight its importance in a multitude of areas.[See disclaimer]

Anti-inflammatory Effects

Laboratory research carried out in Korea[1] has shown that extracts of an essential oil from Zizyphus jujuba seeds had a significant anti-inflammatory effect on skin irritation in experimental mice. Anti-inflammatory effects were measurable at the macroscopic level but effects were also visible at the cellular level suggesting that this oil may help in the development of new anti-inflammatory drugs.


* Disclaimer
The material presented above is a broad review of the literature publicly available either online or published in scientific journals. As such, it is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Plants and their derivatives can have adverse effects or may interact with prescribed medication. Medical advice should be sought before using Zizyphus or indeed any other plant species for therapeutic purposes.

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