From July through about mid-September, we are in the “Earth time of year” with its organs, the Spleen and Stomach. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Spleen is responsible for assimilation and transportation of nutrients throughout the body (metabolism) while the Stomach mechanically breaks down food and fluids. The flavor that improves both of these energies is sweet.
There are two types of sweet – empty and full. The empty sweet includes refined sugars, which generally depletes the body and causes all sorts of diseases. The full sweet comes from protein, complex carbohydrates and natural sugars with nutrients still contained. A little bit of full sweet tonifies and strengthens metabolism and the Earth functions.
One sweet that especially strengthens digestion and energy comes from the herb, jujube date. This delicious red jujube date tonifies both energy and blood, treating poor digestion, weakness, low energy, shortness of breath, nervous exhaustion, insomnia, loose stools or diarrhea, and poor appetite, digestion and memory. This date also nourishes the Spirit, helping to calm nervousness and stabilize emotions, especially when feeling irritable, sad or crying for no reason. They help emaciated folks to gain weight and help malnourished children to thrive.
Because of its sweet flavor, jujube date harmonizes the harsher properties of other herbs and can moderate them in a formula. Thus, they are often added in small amounts to many herb formulas.
Jujube dates grow many places around the world. In the Middle East, jujube dates are called dom and are a major tonic for weak, run-down conditions. We are lucky to have a jujube date tree in our California garden. We often eat them fresh but they are sweeter when dried.
Add jujube dates to soups, stews, and teas. After cooking the dates in a tea or soup, eat them for their full medicinal value. Be sure to remove their pits before eating.
The red dates are more medicinal than the black ones, which are the same fruit but processed differently. Both dates are safe for children as well as the weak or elderly.
Jujube Date Zizyphus jujuba, formerly known as: Zizyphus sativa
Da zao (Chinese)
Also named: Jujubae Fructus
Energy and flavors: Warm, sweet
Organs and channels affected: Spleen, Stomach
Chemical constituents: Vitamins A, B2, C, calcium, phosphorus, iron, glucose Properties and actions: Tonic, sedative, demulcent; tonifes Qi and Blood, calms the Shen
Contraindications: Dampness, swollen abdomen, Food Stagnation, intestinal parasites Dosage and preparation: 6-18 pieces (10-30g). Standard tincture (1:5 @60% ABV).