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Suan Zao Ren

English Name: ziziphus, sour date seed

Pharmaceutical Name: Semen Zizyphi Spinosae

Medica Category: Shen Calming Herbs

Properties: Suan Zao Ren enters the Heart and Liver channels; it is sweet in nature and neutral in temperature.

What is Suan Zao Ren?:

The Chinese Herb Suan Zao Ren (literally “sour date seed”) is the dried seed from the fruit of a particular variation of the jujube tree (Ziziphus jujuba Mill. var. spinosa) that grows well/is cultivated in Northern China (or anywhere with hot, dry climates that experience cold winters). Sour jujube dates (aka Chinese dates or red dates) are harvested in the fall when they ripen and turn red. The flesh of the fruit is removed to obtain the seed kernel, which is then crushed before decoction. Suan Zao Ren can be used unprocessed (better for insomnia w/heat) or dry-fried at a low temperature til the seeds turn brown (better at stopping sweating).

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Suan Zao Ren:

According to TCM theory, the shen resides in the Heart. When there is enough blood in the Heart, the shen can rest there peacefully. When the Heart blood is deficient, however, then the shen cannot reside there peacefully and can be said to be disturbed– one way shen disturbance presents clinically is with  insomnia, palpitations, restlessness, anxiety, and forgetfulness.

Suan Zao Ren nourishes Heart blood that has become deficient due to: (1) Spleen deficiency (the Spleen, the producer of blood, cannot make enough blood to properly supply the Heart); (2) Liver Yin deficiency (the Liver, where blood is stored, cannot supply the Heart with enough blood); or (3) Kidney Yin deficiency (Kidney and Liver combine to provide the Heart with blood).

Suan Zao Ren (dry-fried) is used for symptomatic relief of night sweats and spontaneous sweating (due to qi and/or yin deficiencies).

safety/clinical notes:

Use with caution during pregnancy as Suan Zao Ren stimulates contractions of the uterus.

This herb prolongs sleeping time produced by barbiturates, antihistamines, narcotic analgesics, benzodiazepines and others.

Use caution for persons with an exterior condition.

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