Ziziphus Background and Benefits
Ziziphus is a genus of shrubs in the Rhamnaceae family of buckthorns. This genus includes Ziziphus jujuba, which has common names such as Chinese date, Indian date, Korean date and red date. It is most often used as a shade tree, although the fruit is also edible. The most commonly used parts of this plant in herbal medicine are the fruits and seeds.
Ziziphus jujube can grow to nearly 40 feet in height. It usually has thorny branches, and the shiny leaves can approach three inches in length. The small flowers are less than 1/5 inch in diameter and are yellow or green in color. The fruit is a drupe that can exceed one inch in length. It tastes like an apple before it ripens, although the fully ripe fruit tastes like a true date (Phoenix dactylifera).
Ziziphus probably originated in southern Asia, although its long and extensive cultivation makes its natural distribution difficult to determine. Many Asian countries now grow Ziziphus commercially, especially China, Korea and India. This species is also being cultivated in southeastern Europe.
The most significant biologically active components of Ziziphus jujube are a group of saponins known collectively as jujubosides. Their primary biochemical effect is to inhibit signal paths in the hippocampus that are mediated by glutamate. This action provides Ziziphus with a relaxing effect.
Uses of Ziziphus
The most common use of Ziziphus in health supplements is for relieving feelings of stress. Additional uses include liver health support, digestive support and maintaining a healthy immune system.
Jujubosides may increase the activity of choline acetyltransferase, an enzyme required for the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This action helps to relieve feelings of stress and frustration.
Liver health support
The oleanolic and ursolic acids in jujube extract exhibit a high degree of antioxidant activity in animal studies, which is especially beneficial for liver function. This activity helps to relieve the liver of oxidative stress.
Immune system support
Laboratory studies of human blood suggest that tripenoids in jujube fruit may help to maintain a healthy immune system.
Digestive health support
Animal studies show that jujube extract increases the moisture content of feces, which decreases its transit time through the digestive tract.
Signs You May Need Ziziphus
Feelings of stress and anxiety are the most common signs that you may benefit from ziziphus. A low body weight and poor muscular strength can also indicate a need for ziziphus. Visible conditions that may mean ziziphus could benefit you include dry, itchy skin, purpura and ulcers. Ziziphus can also help digestive signs such as diarrhea and lack of appetite. Additional signs of a need for ziziphus include fatigue, fever and breathing difficulties.
Synonyms and Similar Forms of Ziziphus
Ziziphus jujuba, Zizyphus, Chinese date, Indian date, Korean date, red date