Having a hard time getting a good night’s sleep?
You’re not alone. With our busy schedules, constant smartphone usage, and other health related challenges, more than 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. Poor quality sleep hurts your focus, makes you irritable, and leaves you with less energy to enjoy the things you love most. Chronic sleep issues can also increase your risk for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cognitive decline and dementia.
This poor sleep epidemic has led to a rise in the use of pharmaceutical sleep aids that come with their own set of adverse side effects. Commonly prescribed drugs like Benzodiazepines induce daytime sleepiness or carry risks of inappropriate use due to their habit forming nature.
Thankfully, there’s a trusted natural remedy that has been shown to be effective in improving sleep quality and prolonging sleep duration with fewer side effects than Western medicines.
The Ancient Chinese Remedy for Better Sleep
The jujube fruit may not be commonly known in the Western world, but it’s been widely used in Asian countries for thousands of years to improve sleep quality. Ancient Chinese texts on medicinal herbs, including Huangdi Neijing (475-221 BC) and Shennong Bencao Jing (300 BC), describe jujube as one of the five most valuable fruits in China because of its ability to prolong life by improving quality of sleep.
In a recent mindbodygreen podcast, Dr. Robert Rountree, M.D., a board-certified family medicine physician, described the importance of jujube in traditional Chinese medicine:
If you go to a traditional Chinese doc and say you have trouble sleeping, chances are that you'll be given a formula that has jujube in it. It's that popular. I would say, it is the central herb that's used in traditional Chinese medicine for sleep. What it does is improves sleep quality... it does not knock you out, but it allows you to relax more deeply.
What is jujube?
Zizyphus jujuba, commonly known as jujube, has an edible fruit that is often referred to as a Chinese date. Jujube fruit is sweet and rich in vitamins, minerals (iron, phosphorus, calcium), fatty acids, fiber, and other health-promoting organic compounds.
Jujube seed extract is used to make an herbal concoction known as Suan Zao Ren Tang, or SZRT, that is widely used to treat sleep issues in Asian countries. The benefits of SZRT were described hundreds of year ago in Jin Gui Yao Lue (Essential Prescriptions from the Golden Cabinet), written around 210 A.D. by Zhong-Jing Zhang. Today, the National Health Insurance program of Taiwan cites SZRT as the most commonly prescribed herbal formula for the treatment of insomnia.
Health and Wellness Uses
Jujube and SZRT have a wide variety of common uses including:
Sleep Aid: Phytochemicals in jujube have been show to affect neurotransmitters, including GABA and serotonin, which can help people fall asleep and stay asleep longer. Jujube has also been shown to calm activity in the hippocampus region of the brain.
Antioxidant: Jujube contains potent supplies of several antioxidants, including vitamins C, B, and A. Antioxidants help repair cell damage and reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
Anti-inflammatory: Jujube contains several important phytochemicals known as saponins that have powerful anti-inflammatory capabilities and can strengthen the the immune system.
Additional studied benefits include stress relief, memory improvement, and reducing the risk of dementia.