Da Zao – Hong Zao – Jujube – Red Chinese Date – “Big Date”

Nature: sweet, warm

Enters: Spleen, Stomach

Actions: Tonifies spleen Qi; nourishes blood; calms the Shen; reduces herbs’ side effects (mild action), moderates and harmonizes the harsh properties of other herbs.

• Spleen/stomach Qi deficiency: poor appetite, loose stool, fatigue, shortness of breath (good for children).
• Blood deficiency: mental depression.
• Restless organ disorder: wan appearance, irritability, severe emotional lability.
• Good for eruptions, hives, bleeding.
• Stronger than Gan cao to tonify Qi.
• Closely related to Suan zao ren.
• Seems to normalize the liver (enzymes, recovery from toxicity).
Hsu: Anti-ulcer activity.
DY: Harmonizes and protects the stomach.
• With Sheng jiang to move the defensive Qi, nourish the constructive Qi, harmonize the constructive and defensive, fortify the spleen, and harmonize the middle burner. For indications such as:
– 1. Perspiration, fear of wind, and fever due to disharmony between the constructive and defensive Qi. (Gui Zhi Tang)
– 2. Fatigue, lack of strength, abdominal pain, and lack of appetite due to disharmony between the constructive and defensive Qi. (Xiao Jian Zhong Tang)
– This pair helps insure the proper assimilation of the active principles of other medicinal substances. These are the two main harmonizing herbs in Chinese medicine.
• With Ting li zi to powerfully drain the Lungs, disinhibit urination, and drastically evacuate phlegm without damaging Yin or the stomach. Together, they downbear Qi and calm asthma. For indications such as asthma, cough with stertor, wheezing, a swollen face, and oliguria due to accumulation of phlegm in the Lungs. (Ting Li Da Zao Xie Fei Tang)
Da zao can be used as a harmonizing medicinal with herbs that are incompatible with Gan cao, such as Gan sui, Yuan hua, Da ji, and Hai zao, or in case of edema, anuria, or hypertension.
PCBDP: Emollient, sedative, antitussive, anti-allergic (increases cyclic AMP and GMP in leukocytes), nutritive; may inhibit anaphylaxis; in vitro anti-tumor activity.

Dose: 3-30g (3-12 dates)

11 comments on “Da Zao – Hong Zao – Jujube – Red Chinese Date – “Big Date”

  1. Masa says:

    Dear Mr. Peter,

    I am Masa from Europe. I am writing to you because like your page very much, it shows that you reallly want to help people. I myself am a ‘fresh’ acupuncturist, giving therapies only once a week for now, because I mostly have to work as manager of a TCM clinic where three wonderful Chinese doctors work. I also write articles and try to spread the awareness of TCM. In my country (Slovenia) we don’t even have a real school for TCM, so for the last 3 years I was traveling to the Netherlands on monthly basis. Fortunately I learned a lot from Chinese teachers and all in all it was much fun!

    My request to you is if we could translate some of the articles on your page now and then ? They would be posted on our FB.

    Please consider if this suits you. I understand if you say no.

    Congratulations on your efforts and I wish you success and enough energy in the future too!


    • Peter Borten says:

      Hi Masa,
      That’s fine. Good luck with your career & spreading Chinese medicine in Slovenia.
      Be well,

  2. Anonymous says:

    What are differences between Hong Zao (red jujube) and Da Zao (black jujube)?

    Or are there no differences when using red or black jujube for a Chinese formula (e.g. Huo Xiang Zheng Qi, Ginseng & Jujube, etc.)?

  3. Peter Borten says:

    In practice they are used interchangeably.

    Some practitioners prefer one color or the other, some saying that red is better for nourishing blood and calming the shen. Others say the same about black.

    I haven’t found them to be different in effect, though I personally prefer red.

  4. AriaS says:

    I would like to say thank you for all your work all these years and the valuable information that you have filed,organised and shared in public. I have a question about ziziphus jujube bark . There is a tree at a relatives garden and I would like to use the bark for dicoction.How do I collect it and should I follow a specific processing before using it?

    • Peter Borten says:

      I don’t know. I have never used the bark medicinally. I would probably prune some limbs so that you can completely strip them of their bark with a sharp knife. If you decide to take it from the trunk you have to be careful not to completely girdle the tree at any point or you’ll kill it.
      The only use I’ve heard of for the bark is topically for scalp conditions, and there’s nothing it seems capable of doing that other herbs and essential oils can’t do. In my opinion certain herbs are worth collecting and others not so much – either due to the difficulty, the relative affordability of buying the herb, the risk of hurting the plant, etc. This might be one of those cases.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Can Jujube help attenuate the liver damaging effects of He Shou Wu?

    • Peter Borten says:

      Good question. Don’t know. I’d probably just use milk thistle (or both). However, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about with moderate doses of he shou wu for not more than a few months in someone with a healthy liver.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Aside from the Spleen/Stomach, can Jujube also enter the other meridians? Especially, when combined with Licorice.

    • Peter Borten says:

      I would guess that red Da Zao enters the heart also. I suppose it’s possible to guide Da Zao to other meridians but I can’t off the top of my head think of an application for that. Usually we guide herbs that clear heat / damp / phlegm, release the exterior, move Qi & blood, or warm — to direct the action of a formula to a certain channel or part of the body. It’s less applicable to something like Da Zao, which is really used as a harmonizing herb like 90% of the time, and a mild digestive tonic most of the rest of the time.

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