Jujube seed (Ziziphus zizyphus), also commonly referred to as Suan Zao Ren or the Red Chinese date, is a fruit native to Asian nations including China, Japan, Korea and India.
Its use dates back nearly 2,500 years in traditional Chinese medicine as a potent stress reliever, appetite stimulant, digestive aid and even as an aphrodisiac.
Jujube fruit is traditionally eaten fresh or dehydrated and made into a candy. While eating it may help promote wellness and reduce anxiety, the nutrient composition of the plant varies geographically and based on the techniques used to process it.
Therefore, it may be more reasonable to supplement with the extract or specific flavonoids and saponins found in the fruit.
Read on as we breakdown how jujube fruit works, the benefits of jujube, how to dose jujube supplements for anxiety and other health concerns, and finally the possible side effects that may arise.
How Jujube fruit works
Jujube seed has garnered a large amount of scientific research in recent years, with most studies citing its mental therapeutic effects which come from the glycoside saponins found in the fruit called jujubosides.
For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to focus primarily on the mechanisms of action of jujube fruit’s bioactive nutrients as a whole and how they reduce anxiety (among other benefits); specific ingredients will be discussed when necessary.
Jujube (seeds, in particular) have received a large amount of attention in scientific literature, thanks to their frequent usage in traditional Chinese medicine.
The anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) and sedative properties of the fruit stem largely from its antagonism/inhibition of the serotonin receptor 5HT1A, which appears to be mediated by a specific flavonoid called spinosin.
Activation of 5HT1A receptors inhibits the release of serotonin in nerve terminals and influences secretion of stress hormones such as cortisol, growth hormone, and endorphins.
Thus, by counteracting 5HT1A receptors (like jujube fruit does), serotonin levels increase, thereby promoting relaxation.
Moreover, the serotonin increasing effect of jujube appears to be amplified by other nootropics such as 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
However, at high enough doses, the anti-anxiety effects are overshadowed by its sedative properties.
Sedation is thus another benefit of jujube if you are looking to improve your sleep duration and quality.
Jujube extract has also been shown to increase proliferation of cells in the hippocampus, thereby blocking the effects of neurodegeneration (decline in cognitive function) associated with aging.
Lastly, jujube fruit appears to be highly beneficial for increasing gut motility and fighting constipation; this effect is likely due to the increase in short-chain fatty acids in the colon observed after ingestion of water-soluble polysaccharides found in the fruit.
Benefits of Jujube
Consuming jujube fruit and/or supplementing with the extract provides multiple benefits thanks to a number of micronutrients and bioactive carbohydrates.
That being said, more research is needed on the specific compounds of jujube and their respective benefits.
As a whole, jujube has been demonstrated to provide the following benefits:
- Reduce anxiety 
- Increase REM sleep
- Treat insomnia
- Prevent age-related neurodegeneration/cognitive decline
- Fight inflammation and enhance the immune system
- Increased gut motility (fight constipation)
The therapeutic effects of jujube will differ based on the form and dosage used, as higher doses appear to better for sedation than longevity and anxiety reduction.
Use of Jujube for Improving Anxiety Symptoms
If you’re prone to high levels of distress and anxiety, it appears to be a worthwhile consideration as the side effects are rather benign compared to typical benzodiazepine side effects.
Furthermore, the serotonin boosting properties of jujube are significantly augmented when paired with other nootropics that inhibit/antagonize 5HT1A receptors, such as 5-HTP.
It can also be used indefinitely and doesn’t appear to cause dependency like many anti-anxiety medications do.
Speculation is ongoing as to whether or not jujube inhibits cholinergic receptors in the body.
Many selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have anticholinergic properties as this tends to “calm” a variety of functions in the body.
Unfortunately, anticholinergics come with a long list of side effects such as dry mouth, urinary retention, constipation, drowsiness, brain fog, etc.
Limited data suggests that jujube weakly inhibits acetylcholine production, and another study actually suggests that it may actually increase levels of choline acetyltransferase, the enzyme responsible for synthesizing acetylcholine.,
Hopefully, research will zero in on this possible mechanism for jujube fighting anxiety in the near future.
Recommended Forms and Dosages
There is limited human data on jujube consumption, so the dosages suggested come from amounts consumed in animal studies.
The amount and form of you should take with will depend on the purpose for which you want to use it; respective dosing suggestions are as follows:
For Reducing Anxiety: Between 5-9g daily, taken at once (individuals over 200lbs should aim for at least 7g)
For Better Sleep (and Insomnia): 10g taken one hour prior to bed
For Neuroprotection: 5g taken once daily
For Fighting Inflammation: 2-3g taken once daily
For Constipation: 50g per day of whole jujube fruit (which equates to about 20 2.5cm diameter fruits)
Note that these estimated recommendations may vary depending on the composition of the fruit and extract you use.
Higher potency extracts may only require 1500-2000mg to fight anxiety. The most economical options tend to be bulk jujube seed powder extract and liquid extract as many low-end extract pills are not very potent (i.e. taking 15+ pills per day is not very pragmatic for most people).
Jujube Side Effects
Jujube is actually one of the most benign nootropics available; unless ingesting crazy amounts of the fruit and or extracts, side effects should be a non-factor.
Though very rare, side effects that could result from over consumption of jujube include:
- Hair growth
- Reduced appetite
- Possible estrogen side effects such as bloating and malaise
Thankfully, these side effects are reversible once you stop taking it. As always, please consult with a licensed physician before you consider supplementing with jujube seed in lieu of your current anti-anxiety medications.
Nootropics, such as jujube, can be quite potent, and thus should be treated much like any other drug.
The recommended dose of 5-HTP for pairing with jujube seed is 2mg per kilogram of body weight (so a 75kg individual should ideally ingest 150mg 5-HTP).
Be sure not to pair jujube with any anti-anxiety medications you’re currently prescribed without prior approval from a licensed physician.
Jujube is quite a potent anxiolytic fruit and has a variety of other therapeutic effects beyond that.
It bodes well for you if you are looking for an over-the-counter anxiety remedy. It has been shown to be an intriguing option for fighting anxiety.
While research is ongoing as to what mechanisms regulate the benefits of jujube, much of its anxiety reducing property appear to be mediated through increased serotonin production.
Future studies will likely focus heavily on the specific jujube constituents and their respective health benefits.
If you are looking for a way to improve gut health, fight inflammation, improve sleep, and enhance cognition you may also want to consider jujube.
What makes jujube distinct from many nootropics is its safety profile; side effects are very rare when it’s consumed in healthy amounts.
Jujube also has synergistic properties with other nootropics that boost serotonin levels, making it a great stackable option.
If you’re considering incorporating it into your supplement regimen, your best bet is to start with a high-quality liquid or powder extract; eating the whole fruit is also viable if you don’t mind the carbohydrate content.
Jujube Seed just one of many over the counter supplements that can help your anxiety, to find out about others get our free Anxiety Supplement Guide by clicking the button below!