Zizyphus spinosa

A spiny deciduous tree growing to approximately 8m (25ft) in height. The leaves are oblong and bluntly toothed, 2-6cm in length. Clusters of small greenish-yellow, 5 petalled flowers appear in spring. The fruit is a fleshy ovoid drupe or stone fruit, 1.5-2.5cm long, which is harvested when ripe – turning a dark reddish brown in early autumn. The fruit is very sour and contains a globular pit, the kernel (which is that part used in medicine); the fruits and skins are also said to have tonic and stomachic properties.

Family: Rhamnaceae

Which probiotic is it in?: Jujuba is a key herb in Sleep

Habit and cultivation: Native to China, Zizyphus commonly grows on the mountains outside Beijing. It also grows in India, Malaysia, Afghanistan and Japan. The fruit is collected early in autumn.

Actions (known for): Sedative, hypertensive, hypnotic and anti-hidrotic.


Its use has been noted as far back as the fifth century AD, for symptoms that include insomnia, palpitations, neurasthenia, forgetfulness and nightmares. In traditional Chinese medicine Zizyphus is used to nourish the heart and quieten the spirit. It has also shown its usefulness for abnormal sweating (including night sweats), especially when accompanied by feelings of anxiety and irritability.

Parts used:


Constituents (bio available chemicals):

Saponins (0.1%) including jujubosides A, B, C and acetyljujuboside B, 30% fixed oil. The triterpenoid glycoside ziziphin suppresses the sweet sensation.

Nutritional constituents:

Vitamins: A, B2, and C. Minerals: calcium, phosphorus and iron.


Anxiety, insomnia, nervous exhaustion, irritability, palpitations, hypertension, excessive sweating in anxious patients, night sweats.


Liquid extract (1:2): 40-80ml per week. Dried seed: 2-8g daily.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia

Cautions for therapeutic doses

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