Cultivated for more than 4,000 years, the dried fruit of the jujube tree, known scientifically as Ziziphus jujuba, is a pectoral fruit similar to dates and figs. In China, where jujube originated, practitioners of traditional medicine have long prized the jujube for its medicinal properties. Once confined largely to China, the fruit now grows in many areas of the world, including southern Europe and the southern United States. Consult your doctor before using dried jujube or any herbal remedy.
Rich in carbohydrates, dried jujube fruits contain a broad array of vitamins and minerals, according to MDidea.com, the website of a Chinese company that specializes in herbal extracts. Calories in 100 g of dried jujube total 350; the dried jujubes contain 84 g of carbohydrates, 7.3 g of protein, 4 g of dietary fiber and 1.2 g of fat. The fruit also contains roughly 300 mg of vitamin C, 125 mg of vitamin A, 2.8 mg of niacin, 0.2 mg of riboflavin, 0.1 mg of thiamine, 1,050 mg of potassium, 168 mg of phosphorus, 130 mg of calcium, 12 mg of sodium and 3.5 mg of iron. Dried jujube also contains a wide variety of antioxidant-rich phytochemicals, including saponins and flavonoids.
A team of Iranian researchers at the Vaccine and Serum Research Institute in Mashhad conducted in vitro tests to evaluate the ability of dried jujube extract to inhibit growth or induce cell death in a variety of human tumor cell lines. Scientists used the MTT colorimetric assay to measure the degree to which water extract of dried jujube reduced the proliferation of tumor cells. Although the jujube extract inhibited tumor cell proliferation in all lines, it displayed the greatest effect against Jurkat leukemia cells. In a report in the February 2008 issue of “Cytotechnology,” researchers said their findings confirm dried jujube’s cytotoxic properties against a variety of cancer cell lines and urged further study to identify the mechanisms through which jujube works.
Reverses Cognitive Deficits
South Korean researchers tested 50 traditional medicinal plants in search of a substance that could activate choline acetyltransferase and reduce or even reverse cognitive losses caused by scopolamine-induced amnesia. Through fractionation, the researchers isolated from a methanolic extract of jujube an active component identified as cis-9-octadecenoamide, or oleamide. This jujube derivative showed the greatest activatory effect on choline acetyltransferase in in-vitro testing. When oleamide was administered to mice in which cognitive impairment had been chemically induced, the animals showed a rapid recovery of cognitive deficits. When mice were treated with oleamide before administration of scopolamine, the jujube derivative protected them from cognitive impairment. Researchers published their findings in the June 2003 issue of “Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry.”
Uses in Traditional Medicine
In “The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine,” herbalist Brigitte Mars reports that folk healers have utilized dried jujube for a wide array of medicinal applications across the centuries. The dried dates have been used in traditional medicine to treat allergies, anxiety, depression, diarrhea, dry skin, fatigue, hypertension, insomnia, night sweats, pain, shortness of breath and stress.