Jujube has been used in China for at least 3,000 years. The fruit is a type of drupe, meaning it has an outer skin, fleshy inside, and large inner seed, like a peach or cherry. They can be eaten fresh or dried and look like a date or large raisin at first glance.
“Jujube is a very commonly used Chinese date,” notes TCM expert and acupuncturist Scott Ling, LAc, M.A., Ph.D. “Its sweet nature makes it good for nourishing the digestive system and the mind. Its red rich color makes it fantastic for tonifying (increasing the available energy of) the blood. These properties make it beneficial for treating sleep disorders.”*
Indeed, studies show jujube has “neuroprotective activities” and can help protect nerve cells from neurotoxin stress, support a healthy memory, and promote learning.* In terms of sleep, the fruit has been shown to both improve sleep quality and enhance daytime functioning.*
Traditionally, Ling notes jujube is often used in TCM in an herbal formula called sour jujube decoction (or Suan Zao Ren Tang, 酸棗仁湯). It’s been used since as early as 210 C.E. and combines five medicinal Chinese herbs, including suan zao ren (jujube seeds), fu ling, chuanxiong, zhimu, and gancao.