The Health Benefits of Ziziphus

Medicinal uses are not well-supported, but its fruit has nutritional benefit

Ziziphus capsules, powder, extract, and dried fruit

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Ziziphus is a genus of shrubs and small trees used in herbal medicine. Extracts from the fruit of several species—including Ziziphus jujuba, Ziziphus mauritiana, and Zizyphus spinosa—are available in dietary supplement form. These products are used for a broad range of conditions, from constipation to hypertension. However, there is little high-quality scientific evidence to support such medicinal uses.

The edible fruit resembles a date and contains fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, and some fatty acids, so it does offer some general nutritional benefits.

Also Known As

  • Black jujube
  • Chinese date
  • Date seed
  • Datte chinoise
  • Indian date
  • Jujubae
  • Korean date
  • Red date
  • Sour date
  • Suan Zao Ren
  • Zao
  • Zefzouf
  • Ziziphi spinosae

Health Benefits

Although research on the health effects of plants within the Ziziphus genus is limited, there's some evidence that a number of them may offer health benefits. Still, studies are limited in scope and tend to provide wide-ranging and scattered data about the potential uses of this remedy.

In a report published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2013, for instance, researchers looked at the available studies on Ziziphus jujuba and found that it may help reduce inflammation, fight obesity, stimulate the immune system, improve gastrointestinal health, and boost the amount of free radicals that are destroyed by antioxidants.

Another study found that Ziziphus jujuba was effective at treating hypertension in rats. Yet one more research review found that supplements may have the potential to prevent or treat neurological diseases.

Other studies have investigated specific health benefits that ziziphus may provide. Most, however, are performed on rodents or in vitro (on cells in a laboratory) rather than on humans, so it is unclear if the results apply to individuals.

Here's a look at some of the research on ziziphus.

Anxiety

Ziziphus jujuba shows promise in the treatment of anxiety, according to a preliminary study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2000.

In tests on mice, the study's authors observed that compounds extracted from Ziziphus jujuba may have sedative effects. Human studies have not confirmed this benefit.

Diabetes

Some species of ziziphus may aid in diabetes control. For example, a mouse-based study published in Pharmaceutical Biology in 2010 determined that Ziziphus mauritiana may help manage diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels.

Additionally, a preliminary study published in Natural Product Communications in 2013 found that Ziziphus mucronata may have anti-diabetic benefits. In tests on cells in culture, the plant was found to help cells properly utilize blood sugar and, in turn, protect against elevated glucose levels.

Cancer

A 2015 report published in Pharmacognosy Review examined the potential anti-cancer activities of Ziziphus jujube fruit. Study authors concluded that the bioactive compounds present in the fruit (triterpenic acids and polysaccharides) have cancer-fighting potential on various cancer cell lines.

However, more high-quality independent studies are needed to determine if there is any potential for the same in humans.

Other Uses

Ziziphus is also used as a folk remedy for the following health issues. It should be noted that, here too, there is not enough scientific evidence to confirm its efficacy for these purposes.

  • Anxiety 
  • Asthma 
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • High blood pressure 
  • Inflammation 
  • Stress 

In alternative medicine, Ziziphus jujuba is said to increase strength, stimulate appetite, and enhance liver health. When applied directly to the skin, it is also thought to promote wound healing, treat dry skin, ease sunburn, and reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging.

In addition, ziziphus plants are sometimes used in the treatment of insomnia, menopausal symptoms, and other health concerns.

Possible Side Effects

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of any type of ziziphus supplement.

The safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications, in general, has not been established. 

There is a moderate concern that ziziphus may interact with certain medications including diabetes medications, sedatives, acetophenetidin (a pain-relieving and fever-reducing drug), and medications that are changed by the liver.

Always speak with your doctor before starting any herbal supplement.

Ziziphus dried fruit

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Selection, Preparation, and Storage

You may see liquid (extract) and capsule forms of ziziphus. These are sold in many natural-foods stores and shops specializing in natural products. You can also purchase ziziphus products online.

Be sure to read labels carefully, as some products contain additional ingredients. That said, a product could also contain elements not listed on the label, such as metals. There are also instances of products delivering doses of ingredients that differ from the amount specified.

Dietary supplements are largely unregulated in the United States and are not required to be tested for safety. It is, however, illegal to market a dietary supplement as a treatment or cure for a specific disease.

When choosing a product, it's best to look for one that has been certified by ConsumerLabs, U.S. Pharmacopeia, or NSF International. These independent organizations don't guarantee that a product is safe or effective, but they do provide a certain level of testing for quality.

Common Questions

What does jujube fruit taste like?
Fresh jujube fruit has the texture and crisp, bright flavor of an apple. It can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried. Some use ziziphus fruit in place of dates or raisins in recipes.

Where can I find jujube fruit?
Ziziphus fruit isn't easily found in most American grocery stores. You may need to visit an Asian specialty store that imports exotic fruit.

A Word From Verywell

It may be tempting to consider using ziziphus if you're working to manage any of the conditions mentioned. But given the limited research, it's too soon to it is safe or effective. Remember, too, that opting to self-treat a condition with this or any other remedy, and avoiding or delaying standard care when doing so, may have serious consequences.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.