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Herb Profile: Da Zao (“Jujube or Chinese Date”)

By Margarita Gonzalez

Da Zao, jujube or Chinese date, is not only a medicinal herb in Chinese medicine but also a tasty fruit. Its sweet and warm properties make it a favorite among many. The jujube can be consumed alone as a snack or added to foods. Be careful not to use too much though, as an excessive amount can bring about diarrhea and digestive discomfort.

Still, this herb is very special because it can replenish the substance that provides our bodies with warmth and energy (Qi). Thus it is used in cases of weakness, fatigue, and poor appetite. It builds blood and calms the spirit/mind, treating irritability and insomnia. Finally, Da Zao harmonizes formulas, reducing the undesired and harmful effects of harsh herbs and helping the herbs in a formula work together more effectively. It is often used as an alternative herb to Gan Cao (licorice root) to harmonize when licorice root is unavailable or when it is incompatible with the herbs being used.

Of course, in order to obtain the greatest medicinal benefit from Da Zao, it must be used along with other herbs. Some will accentuate the effect of building blood, while others will augment its function to replenish Qi.