“The jujube fruit is sweet and sticky, relieves constipation, and overcomes vāta and pitta.
When ripe and dried, it destroys kapha and vāta without, however, increasing pitta.”
badaraṃ madhuraṃ snigdhaṃ bhedanaṃ vātapittajit ।
tacchuṣkaṃ kaphavātaghnaṃ pittena ca virudhyate ॥141॥From the Caraka Saṃhitā
Ayurvedic Properties of the Jujube Tree
The Common Jujube (Ziziphus mauritiana) is a small thorny tree native to India and Southeast Asia and is most widely known for its unique and delicious fruits.
Jujube fruits have a distinctive process of ripening – the green ripening fruits are juicy and tart and taste like a fresh apple whereas the red-brown and ripe fruits quickly dry out and become chewy, having a flavor like a cooked apple or date.
The Jujube tree has a number of Ayurvedic uses and the Ayurvedic properties of its fruit also differ according to its ripeness. According to the ancient Ayurvedic text, caraka saṃhitā, The ripening fruit helps to overcome vāta and pitta, while the ripe, dried fruit reduces kapha and vāta without, however, increasing pitta*.
All parts of the tree are considered in Ayurveda to have a cooling potency, or śīta-vīrya.
The Jujube tree is known as badara in Sanskrit.
Jujube fruits are very nourishing and are prized as a daily tonic and adaptogenic herb, with a high concentration of Vitamin C (much like amla!). They also contain a good amount of Iron, Potassium and Vitamin B. Jujube fruits are considered to help with indigestion, diarrhea and dyspepsia and are nourishing to the blood and body tissues (dhātu).
The seeds of the tree are considered to have sedative properties and help to promote good sleep and relieve anxiety. Today, this is ascribed to the presence of betulinic acid in all parts of the Jujube tree, though it is concentrated most in the seeds and bark. Amazingly, betulinic acid also shows promise in modern medical research as an anti-viral and anti-cancer medicine.
Taking into consideration both its nourishing and anti-anxiety properties, Jujube is traditionally prescribed for persons with eating disorders like anorexia.
The leaves and bark of the tree are very astringent. Thus the leaves are traditionally applied to external wounds to stem bleeding and the bark is used as a traditional chewing stick for cleaning the teeth and relieving gingivitis.
Jujube is also commonly consumed as an herbal tea, especially in East Asian countries like China and Korea.
As mentioned above, Jujube bark has very powerful astringent (kaṣāya) properties and is thus one of the common trees from which traditional Ayurvedic teeth-chewing sticks are made (other common trees are Neem, Peelu & Babul). It promotes optimal oral health and is traditionally prescribed in Ayurveda for conditions like bleeding of the gums and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).
Taken all together, the Jujube tree is an amazing pharmacopeia of Ayurvedic medicinal properties!