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Semen Ziziphi Spinosae (Suan Zao Ren)

Semen Ziziphi Spinosae (Suan Zao Ren)

What is Semen Ziziphi Spinosae (Suan Zao Ren)?

Semen Ziziphi Spinosae (suan zao ren, 酸枣仁) refers to the dry, ripe seed of deciduous shrub of the deciduous shrub Ziziphys jujuba, which belongs to the family Rhamnaceae. This shrub has thorny branches that grow to 5 – 10m tall. Native to many parts of Asia, Ziziphys jujuba grows its fruits in hot summers and with sufficient water. 

However, this plant can also tolerate colder temperatures and can manage to survive in desert habitats. Other than green and ovate leaves, Ziziphys jujuba also has small flowers with yellow-green petals. The edible oval fruits of Ziziphys jujuba are green when immature, and they turn dark red or purple-black when ripe, containing a single hard seed.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Semen Ziziphi Spinosae falls under the category of ‘Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit’. Such herbs can tranquilize the mind and treat symptoms such as restlessness, palpitations, anxiety or insomnia. Neutral in nature, Semen Ziziphi Spinosae does not affect the yin-yang balance in the body.

Sour and sweet in taste, Semen Ziziphi Spinosae can aid digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of fluids from the body, such as diarrhoea or heavy sweating. Also, it can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body, and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, Semen Ziziphi Spinosae targets the gallbladder, Heart and Liver.

Functions and Benefits of Semen Ziziphi Spinosae (Suan Zao Ren)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Semen Ziziphi Spinosae has the following health benefits.

Semen Ziziphi Spinosae can tonify yin and blood in the Heart and Liver, as well as induce tranquilization. Thus, this herb can relieve sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep paralysis and dream-disturbed sleep. Semen Ziziphi Spinosae can also contribute to one’s mental health by relieving symptoms such as palpitation, fearful throbbing, amnesia, lassitude, anorexia, restlessness, dizziness, and even jet lag. Modern research has shown that Semen Ziziphi Spinosae contains jujubosides, which have a sedative effect. Also, Jujuboside-A, one of the saponins in Semen Ziziphi Spinosae, can help to quiet activity in the hippocampus region of the brain.

Also, Semen Ziziphi Spinosae can check sweating, and is thus indicated for spontaneous sweating, cold sweat and night sweat. For spontaneous sweating caused by Qi Deficiency, Semen Ziziphi Spinosae is often combined with other herbs that can nourish qi, strengthen superficies and check sweating to reinforce its actions. For night sweat caused by Yin Deficiency, Semen Ziziphi Spinosae can be combined with other yin-nourishing and sweat-checking herbs to enhance its effectiveness.

Sweet and rich in fibre, Semen Ziziphi Spinosae is a good source of vitamin A, B and C, along with iron, phosphorus, calcium and fatty acids. Other studies have also suggested that Semen Ziziphi Spinosae may encourage bowel movements, which means that it may be used to treat constipation.

Semen Ziziphi Spinosae (Suan Zao Ren)
Semen Ziziphi Spinosae (Suan Zao Ren) can help to calm the mind and improve sleep quality.

How to Use Semen Ziziphi Spinosae (Suan Zao Ren)

The recommended daily dosage of Semen Ziziphi Spinosae is 3 – 10g, when used as a decoction. If in powdered form, the recommended dosage of Semen Ziziphi Spinosae is 1.5 – 3g.

Semen Ziziphi Spinosae is available in other supplement forms too, such as pills and as part of herbal formulas. You can find Semen Ziziphi Spinosae and its supplements in herbal stores and specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Semen Ziziphi Spinosae (Suan Zao Ren)

Semen Ziziphi Spinosae should not be used by individuals experiencing severe diarrhoea, excess Heat, insomnia caused by excess Heat, Exterior conditions or pregnancy.

Also, Semen Ziziphi Spinosae may prolong sleeping time when used together with drugs such as barbiturates, narcotic analgesics and benzodiazepines.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Semen Ziziphi Spinosae to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Semen Ziziphi Spinosae (Suan Zao Ren):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 酸枣仁
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): suān zǎo rén
  • Herb name (English): Spine Date Seed
  • Herb name (Botanical): Semen Ziziphi Spinosae
  • Origin of species: Ziziphus jujuba Mill. var. spinosa (Bunge) Hu ex H. F. Chou
  • Part(s) of herb used: Seed
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Hebei, Shaanxi, Liaoning, Henan, Shanxi, Shandong, Gansu
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet, sour; Neutral; Administrates the Liver, Gall Bladder and Heart Meridians
  • Actions: Calms the mind to improve quality of sleep; Eases excessive perspiration; Relieves constant thirst

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