Missing out on sleep has a negative effect on just about every area of your life. And while we all need different amounts of sleep we have to sleep well to wake up feeling refreshed.
Fortunately there are herbal options available and one of the most popular and effective is Zizyphus, which has been used in natural Chinese medicine for thousands of years to improve sleep quality and enhance mental relaxation.
So how should you cope if sleep eludes you night after night?
The temptation to take some form of sleep-inducing medication is tempting, but most doctors advise against this due to the addictive nature of many sleeping pills, some of which can be fatal in large doses.
Not only do most experts hail it for its natural sedative properties but as it has no known side-effects it is a popular, and safe, option for people with sleep issues. It helps to develop a healthy sleeping pattern by calming the mind and encouraging a refreshing, undisturbed sleep.
Read: develop a good sleeping pattern
The history of zizyphus
Zizyphus refers to the seed of Zizyphus jujuba which has sedative properties. Zizyphus is a thorny tree with a small apple-tasting fruit that later matures to a red-purple-black colour resembling a date.
Traditionally zizyphus seeds are stir-fried prior to use; the seeds are turned rapidly in a hot wok and then allowed to cool in straw baskets. According to Chinese tradition it helps “nourish the liver blood, calm the spirit, and stop night time sweating”.
Read: Chinese traditional medicine
Also known as the 'Chinese Date' it has a variety of different uses in traditional Chinese medicine. These range from use as a painkiller, a sedative, a gastro-intestinal tonic, an antifungal and in some cases it has been used as an anti-diarrhoeal.
Botanical drawing of the Zizyphus Jujuba by Francisco Manuel Blanco
Common uses for zizyphus
While it’s most popular use is as a stress-relieving sedative, the 'Chinese Date' and differing parts of the tree are also used as:
• A blood purifier
• Help with weight gain in underweight people
• Improved muscular strength and stamina
• Natural painkiller
• A liver tonic
• Boosts immune system resistance to infection
• A gastro-intestinal tonic
• The fruit is used for coughs, congestion and as a diuretic
• The root is sometimes used to treat ulcers
• The leaves have been used to treat chickenpox and measles
• The bark helps inflammation in the eye
• The fruit can be eaten fresh or even as a coffee substitute
However it is most admired and used for its effective treatment of sleep conditions such as insomnia, nervous exhaustion, night sweats, palpitations and excessive perspiration.
Read: Stress relief
Traditionally it is prescribed for people experiencing restless sleep, troubling dreams, anxiety and even concentration problems. The fruit is used for coughs, congestion, as a diuretic and to soothe the internal organs.
No known side-effects
Another reason Zizyphus is popular as a sedative is its relatively low toxicity when taken orally and because there are no side effects.
Some pharmacology assessments of the zizyphus seed oil and zizyphus extract even imply that with prolonged use they can reduce serum triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and reduce fatty degeneration of the liver.
What are sleep disorders?
Diagnosing sleep disorders
Sources: Institute for Traditional Medicine, Examine.com, DigHerbs