Uses In Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine is still held in high regard today within much of Asia. Even with today's advances in modern medicine, it is still accepted as a front-line form of treatment for many ailments. The philosophy behind Chinese Medicine is beyond the scope of this article but for those keen to learn more the Wikipedia entry on TCM gives a helpful insight into this intriguing and complex system of medical care.

Chinese texts on Traditional Medicine, some current[v] and others dating back 2000 years[AJ], typically describe the Jujube in such terms as:

Tonifies the Qi, nourishes the liver and calms the spirit

Whilst words like these sound quite alien to us in the West, it seems the Chinese had things correct right from the start as recent research has shown that ingredients within the fruit and other parts of the plant can have medically significant effects.

A recent publication by the Australian Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation [20] also gives some credibility to the use of Zizyphus jujuba in medicine.

The following have been known to be used as a remedy, cure or treatment within the realm of Traditional Medicine

Fruit

The dried fruits contain saponins, triterpenoids and alkaloids. Traditionally the fruit has been used:

  • As a mild sedative to treat insomnia
  • As a tea to relieve a sore throat
  • To improve liver function and hasten recovery from illness
  • To aid digestion and improve appetite
  • To "purify the blood" - this has a distinct meaning in Chinese Mediine and relates to a low level of Qi energy

Seeds

The seeds are rich in several medically active compounds including jujubosides and alkaloids. Boiling or cooking the seeds can also enhance their effects. The seeds may sometimes be ground into a powder and are used to treat

  • Insomnia [AK][22]
  • Anxiety
  • Palpitations

There is also evidence that the seed kernel contains an essential oil that has significant anti-inflammatory properties [12]

Leaves

The leaves contain Ziziphin and triterpenoids such as Betulinic Acid which are said to have anti-cancer properties[12]

A search on Alibaba, the popular import/export site shows a huge market for Jujube Extracts based on leaves, fruits and seeds.

Roots

The roots are typically dessicated and ground into a powder before being applied as a poultice to ulcers and wounds that won't heal. It has also been used to treat burns.

Active Ingredients

Chemical analysis of the Jujube fruit has identified several compounds that have been shown to have both pharmacological and physiological effects. These go some way to explaining how and why they work in relation to their traditional uses stated above.

Active ingredients include


Many of these compounds are undergoing active research for their potential use in conventional medicine. Whilst drug research and development can take many years to reach the stage where a product is made available to the public, it is worthwhile acknowledging that Jujubes have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for several thousand years.


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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