What is Wild Jujube Extract?
Many people are familiar with jujubes — the chewy, rainbow-colored candy that used to be a special treat at the movies. But probably a lot fewer know that jujube candies were originally flavored with jujube fruit. When jujube candies first arose some hundred years ago, the juice of the jujube was a key ingredient because it acts as a cough suppressant. This made the candies particularly popular in movie theaters because no one likes distractions during a movie. Wild jujube fruit juice is no longer one of the candy’s ingredients, but wild jujube extract offers all the benefits of the whole fruit in a convenient form.
Jujube (Ziziphus, Chinese date, hong zao or annab) is native to Asia. It is a shrub, but many consider it to be a small tree because it can grow up to 30 feet tall. The fruit is about the size of an olive and, also like an olive, it contains one large seed. The fresh fruit has the texture and crisp flavor of an apple. One can eat jujubes fresh or make them into a candy, syrup or wine. A dried jujube tastes more like a date and contains an impressive array of healthful compounds, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber (x).
The fruit, seeds and bark of the wild jujube have all been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. There are records in Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Korean writings of wild jujube being useful for a variety of complaints, including insomnia, anxiety and digestive difficulties (x).
Wild Jujube Extract Benefits
Jujube fruit contains vitamins A, B and C, as well as the minerals calcium and potassium. Other important compounds include flavonoids and short-chain fatty acids. Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant and short-chain fatty acids are essential for good digestion. The list of jujube’s beneficial compounds keeps growing, and it even shows promise as a cancer-fighting food. Research is ongoing, but studies show that polysaccharides from an extract of jujube are effective in killing cancer cells (x).
Antioxidants are reasonably well known these days because of their ability to fight damaging free radicals that lead to serious illness like heart disease and cancer, as well as premature aging. Vitamin C is one such antioxidant, and jujubes contain high levels of this infection-fighting vitamin. Also due to its high antioxidant and vitamin content, jujube extract is commonly present in skincare products. A study on rats concluded that the antioxidants in jujube were effective against oxidative liver damage. In this case, the antioxidants focused on liver damage induced by chronic alcohol administration (x).
Digestive and Gastric Support
Another traditional use of jujube is as a digestive aid. Studies show that sufficient intake of jujube extract (in this study, 40 mg per day) could improve overall digestion (x). Research also shows that jujube can offer natural relief from chronic constipation (x).
Wild jujube extract can help with digestion in two ways; first, through its fiber content, and second, due to certain compounds called triterpenoids and saponins. These both promote the absorption of nutrients and assist in moving food through your system. Jujube extract can also help reduce flatulence, bloating and constipation, and potentially other gastrointestinal complaints. Jujube can offer a safe and effective natural alternative to harsh OTC laxatives.
Reduced Anxiety and Stress
Wild jujube extract contains compounds that help reduce stress, or in fancy scientific terms, are ‘anxiolytic’. The extract can help balance out hormone levels, leading to a more relaxed state. For those who suffer from chronic stress or anxiety, the antioxidants in jujube can help protect the body from long-term exposure to stress hormones (x).
Losing sleep can have seriously negative effects on your health. People who regularly miss out on sleep are more likely to be in car accidents, miss more days of work, are more irritable and report lower job satisfaction. Inadequate sleep also causes people to feel hungry due to the body’s attempt to energize itself. Insomnia affects some 30 percent of the adult population, with 10 percent reporting impairment to their daytime function or stress about their lack of sleep (x).
Jujube can be useful as an antidepressant and anti-anxiety remedy because of its calming effect on the body and mind. Studies have shown that at low doses, jujube provides relief for anxiety while higher doses offer a sedative effect (x).
Besides the many unwanted side effects, sleeping pills have been proven ineffective. Jujube offers sedative effects which can help soothe anxiety and restlessness and help you to get a good, natural, drug-free night’s sleep.
Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals that cause many diseases including cancer and heart disease. Vitamin C is one such antioxidant that cannot be synthesized by the body and must be consumed through diet. Jujubes are rich in antioxidants — including vitamin C. Vitamin C also boosts white blood cell production, which is the body’s first line of defense against illness. Jujubes contain 20 times more vitamin C than oranges and other citrus fruits people generally think of when they are looking to up their vitamin C intake.
Studies show that jujube may help destroy harmful tumor cells (x). Although it is possible that molecules such as triterpenic acids and polysaccharides may be the active compounds, the exact mechanism is not yet clear. But researchers have found a correlation between jujube and reducing the spread of cancer cells. The same study suggested that jujube might be particularly effective at fighting breast cancer.
Cholesterol has a strong link to heart disease — the number one killer in America. It is possible that jujube can reduce total cholesterol, particularly LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol in a study conducted on teenagers (x).
Due to its antioxidant effects, jujube may offer protection against deterioration and damage to brain cells, helping to improve memory and learning and preventing cognitive decline, and potentially even reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (x).
Wild Jujube Extract Side Effects
Very few negative side effects occur with jujube so long as one consumes it in moderate amounts.
Lowers Blood Sugar
It is possible for jujube to lower blood sugar (x). If you are diabetic or hypoglycemic, monitor your blood sugar levels if taking high doses of wild jujube extract.
Could Interfere with Surgical Readiness/Recovery
Because jujube may reduce the body’s ability to control blood sugar during and after surgery, stop taking jujube two weeks prior to any scheduled surgical procedure. It is also possible for jujube to slow the central nervous system and interfere with anesthesia and other medications.
It is always advisable for anyone with a serious or chronic health condition or taking daily medications to consult with a doctor before adding supplements to their health regimen.
Consult with your doctor before taking jujube if you are taking antidepressants. While rare, a reaction to the antidepressant venlafaxine (serotonin syndrome) is possible.
Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include confusion, changes in blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate and sweating. Extreme cases of serotonin syndrome can be life-threatening. Symptoms include unconsciousness, high fever, seizures and irregular heartbeat. Seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you are with is experiencing any of these symptoms.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Pregnant or nursing women should always use caution when adding this or any other supplement to their diet. There is little evidence to support the idea that jujube may interfere with fertility. However, if you are trying to conceive, consult with your healthcare professional before using it.
Wild Jujube Extract Dosage
The FDA does not offer any guidelines for wild jujube extract, but 1,000 mg (scant 1/2 teaspoon) of wild jujube extract powder is an ideal amount. Of course, be sure to speak with a doctor before adding this supplement to your regimen.
The Bottom Line
Wild jujube extract offers a wide variety of benefits, from better sleep to improved digestion to cancer prevention. Its vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other bioactive compounds can help you look better and feel better, both inside and out. Despite its benefits, though, be sure to consult a doctor before adding this supplement to your regimen.