Research progress of quality control for the seed of Ziziphus jujuba var. spinosa (Bunge) Hu ex H.F. Chow (Suan-Zao-Ren) and its proprietary Chinese medicines

J Ethnopharmacol. 2023 May 10:307:116204. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2023.116204. Epub 2023 Jan 28.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Semen Ziziphi Spinosae (SZS), the seed of Ziziphus jujuba var. spinosa (Bunge) Hu ex H.F. Chow (Chinese name Suan-Zao-Ren), is widely distributed in China, Laos, Myanmar, and Iran. It is a classic traditional Chinese medicine with sedative and sleeping effects. In clinical practice, there are more than 155 proprietary Chinese medicines containing SZS. However, many commercial SZS products are difficult to qualify using current methods. Moreover, there is a scarcity of quality standards for SZS in proprietary Chinese medicines.

Aim of the study: The purpose of this study was to clearly reveal the quality indicators during the entire production process of SZS and its products.

Materials and methods: This study reviewed more than 230 articles and related books on the quality control of SZS and its proprietary Chinese medicines published over the last 40 years (from January 1979 to October 2022). Moreover, where available, information on the quality of SZS and its proprietary Chinese medicines was also collected from websites for comparison, including online publications (e.g. PubMed, CNKI, Google Scholar, and Web of Science), the information at Yaozhi website and China Medical Information Platform, along with some classic books on Chinese herbal medicine. The literature and information search were conducted using keywords such as "Suan-Zao-Ren", " Ziziphus jujuba" and "quality control", and the latest results from various databases were combined to obtain valid information. The active components, which in vivo exposure, and Q-markers were also summarized.

Results: The jujuboside A, jujuboside B, and spinosin were revealed as the key Q-markers for SZS. Moreover, the advancements and prospects of the quality control for SZS and its extract, proprietary Chinese medicines, health foods, and adulterants were comprehensively summarized. The high-performance liquid chromatography-UV/evaporative light scattering detection and fingerprint analysis were found to be the mainstream methods for the SZS quality control. In particular, the novel quality evaluation method based on the unit content was applied for SZS and its proprietary Chinese medicines. Significant fluctuations were found in the contents of Q-markers. Moreover, the mass transfer rule of Q-markers was comprehensively clarified based on the entire production process, including production origins, ripening time, primary process, processing, compatibility decoction/extract, and storage. Ultimately, the crushing and compatibility of SZS were found to be the key steps affecting the active components.

Conclusions: In short, this study provides solid evidences to reveal quality indicators for the entire production process of developing rational quality standards for SZS and its products. Moreover, this study also provides a template quality control overview, which could be extended to other traditional Chinese medicines.

Keywords: High performance liquid chromatography; Mass transfer rule; Q-markers; Quality control; Semen ziziphi spinosae; Spinosin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal* / pharmacology
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Quality Control
  • Ziziphus*


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal