Ziziphus spinosa seeds for insomnia: A review of chemistry and psychopharmacology

Phytomedicine. 2017 Oct 15:34:38-43. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2017.07.004. Epub 2017 Jul 4.


Background: In Chinese medicine, Ziziphus jujuba Mill. var. spinosa (Bunge) Hu ex H. F. Chou is widely used for the treatment of insomnia.

Purpose/sections: This paper summarises the chemistry, psychopharmacology, and compares the pharmaceutical effects of the seeds of Ziziphus jujuba plant, Ziziphus spinosa (ZS) seeds, with benzodiazepines. Whole extracts and constituent compounds have been evaluated in preclinical and clinical studies.

Conclusions: ZS secondary metabolites modulate GABAergic activity and the serotonergic system. The actual therapeutic agents require further confirmation/identification so that new insomnia phytomedicines can be discovered.

Keywords: Insomnia; Phytochemical; Psychopharmacology; Suan zao ren; Ziziphus spinosa; Zizyphus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Seeds / chemistry*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Ziziphus / chemistry*
  • Ziziphus / classification


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • suanzaoren