Improve Your Sleep with Wild Jujube Seeds
If you can sleep better, you’ll improve physical and cognitive performance, speed recovery, and boost immunity. The trouble for many athletes is that late workouts, evening games, and travel conspire to keep you from the slumber you need to be your best. Fortunately, nature offers solutions. In this piece, we’ll explore one of the three ingredients we handpicked for our latest performance nutrition product, Momentous Sleep: wild jujube seeds.
Jujube seed (Ziziphus zizyphus) is a fruit that grows in Japan, Korea, India, China, and other Asian nations. Also known as Suan Zao Ren or Red Chinese dates, people eat the fruit – which is a rich source of vitamin C – fresh off the tree or dry it first. For centuries, traditional medicine practitioners have extracted the seeds from jujube fruit and used them to help treat insomnia and other sleep issues.
Improving Slumber and Mood
A team of researchers from RMIT University’s School of Health and Biomedical Sciences tested both whole jujube seeds and an extract from them, and found that both regulated the release of GABA and serotonin, two neurotransmitters crucial to sleep and stabilizing mood. These aren’t the only neurochemicals that jujube seed extract might modulate. A Swiss study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology concluded that jujube compounds also improved modulation of benzodiazepine and dopamine, which are both involved in controlling the sleep-wake cycle and calming the central nervous system at night.
Furthermore, a French study found that a tincture made from liquified jujube had sedative effects on test subjects suffering from a general malaise, suggesting that it can help people whose psycho-emotional condition normally interferes with or delays their sleep.
Settling the Brain Down for Restful Sleep
While we need to use caution when trying to extrapolate any animal research to humans, four scientists from South China University of Technology found that flavonoids and saponins extracted from jujube reduced wakefulness, limited restlessness, and extended sleep duration in mice. When biomedical engineers from China’s Zhejiang University investigated the impact of wild jujube seed extract on the brain, they discovered that it quieted activity in the hippocampus, where over-excitation can delay sleep onset. A second study by the same researchers found that jujuboside – an extract from jujube seeds –were even more effective at reducing hyperactivity in the hippocampus than diazepam, a drug commonly prescribed to treat anxiety disorders.
The Zhejiang University researchers posited the theory that jujube’s sedative effects on the hippocampus can be attributed to the flavonoids and saponins it contains. A bevy of evidence suggests that these two classes of phytochemicals extend the time people spend in REM (rapid eye movement) and SWS (slow-wave sleep) each night, and also calm the central nervous system. Sleep and circadian rhythms expert Michael Breus reported that the combination of saponins and flavonoids can help increase overall sleep duration. “Jujube contains a flavonoid compound, spinosin, which appears to trigger sleepiness through its effects on serotonin,” Breus wrote. “One of the strongest benefits of jujube is its ability to calm the mind, quiet neural activity, and help induce and sustain sleep.”
Preventing Free Radical Damage
In addition to positively impacting sleep and regulating mood, there is some promising evidence to suggest that jujube seed extract has other health benefits. Four Chinese scientists used advanced chromatography to isolate and extract jujube polysaccharides and then analyzed the chemical properties of each one. They found that, “jujube polysaccharides exhibit remarkable antioxidant activity, and can scavenge DPPH radical and OH radical” which in layman’s terms means that jujube can protect cells from the damage inflicted by free radicals. Another study published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules noted that polysaccharides obtained from jujube had antioxidant effects in the liver.
Such comprehensive reports from the scientific literature led to us including wild jujube seeds in the Momentous Sleep Nighttime Recovery formula. The other two primary ingredients – melatonin and Magtein®, the only form of magnesium proven to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) – have been shown to increase sleep quality and duration, reduce nighttime disturbances, and leave people feeling well-rested without the grogginess associated with some other natural sleep aids. So if you’re an athlete who’s looking to get good sleep more consistently and thereby improve both performance and recovery, look no further.
Want to learn more about the unique ingredient blend in Momentous Sleep? Check out this article about the evidence-based benefits.
1 - JL Shergis et al, “Ziziphus Spinosa Seeds for Insomnia: A Review of Chemistry and Psychopharmacology,” Phytomedicine, October 2017, available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28899507.
2 - U Koetter et al, “Interactions of Magnolia and Ziziphus Extracts with Selected Central Nervous System Receptors,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, July 30 2009, available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19505549.
3 - “Demonstration of the Psychotropic Effect of Mother Tincture of Zizyphus Jujuba,” Phytothérapie Clinique, March 8, 2009, available online at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10298-008-0362-7.
4 - JG Jiang et al, “Comparison of the Sedative and Hypnotic Effects of Flavonoids, Saponins, and Polysaccharides Extracted from Semen Ziziphus Jujube,” Natural Product Research, April 2007, available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17479419.
5 - M Zhang et al, “Inhibitory Effect of Jujuboside A on Glutamate-Mediated Excitatory Signal Pathway in Hippocampus,” Planta Medica, August 2003, available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14531016.
6 - YG Yu et al, “Inhibitory Effects of Jujuboside A on EEG and Hippocampal Glutamate in Hyperactive Rats,” Journal of Zhejiang University, April 2005, available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15754424.
7 - Xiaolong Ji et al, “Isolation, purification, and antioxidant activities of polysaccharides from Ziziphus Jujuba cv. Muzao,” International Journal of Food Properties, April 13, 2018, available online at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2018.1425702.
8 - G Liu et al, “Hepatoprotective Effects of Polysaccharides Extracted from Zizyphus Jujube cv. Huanghetanzao,” International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, May 2015, available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25709018.
9 - Mounir N. Ghabriel and Robert Vink, “Magnesium Transport Across the Blood-Brain Barriers,” Magnesium in the Central Nervous System, available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507259/; L Palm et al, “Long-Term Melatonin Treatment in Blind Children and Young Adults with Circadian Sleep-Wake Disturbances,” Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 1997, available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9236698?dopt=Abstract.