Last time, I talked about Suan Zao Ren Tang and mentioned some things about the main ingredient, Suan Zao Ren (Sour Date Seed). I now present to the reader some excerpts from a 2002 study:
Chen, et al. Prescriptions of Chinese Herbal Medicines for Insomnia in Taiwan in 2002. eCAM Advance Access published online on April 1, 2009.
eCAM, doi:10.1093/ecam/nep018 (http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/nep018)
Let’s go specifically into the part on Suan Zao Ren.
The second most commonly used Chinese herb for subjects with insomnia in our study was Suan-zao-ren (Z. spinosa). It is the chief ingredient in the formula of Suan-zao-ren-tang. In an animal model, Peng et al. (29) reported that Suan-zao-ren had a sedative effect at higher doses and an anxiolytic effect at lower doses. In addition, Zhang et al. (30) indicated that Jujuboside A, one of the components of Suan-zao-ren, produced its sedative–hypnotic effects through effecting the actions of anti-calcium-binding proteins and it inhibited the glutamate-mediated excitatorysignaling pathway in the hippocampus. Jiang et al. (31) also reported that saponins, the main bioactive components of Suan-zao-ren, could prolong the sleeping time induced by barbiturates. In addition, Ma et al. (32) revealed that sanjoinine A, an alkaloid compound of Suan-zao-ren, might regulate GABAergic neurons and further increase the sleeping time and decrease the sleep latency induced by pentobarbital. Notably, there was a case report indicating that Suan-zao-ren could interact with the antidepressant, venlafaxine (Efexor), thereby leading to an acute serotonin reaction (33).
So nice to see that traditional Chinese Medicine is being STUDIED and PROVEN to work. Here are the research papers cited by Chen et al:
- Peng WH, Hsieh MT, Lee YS, Lin YC, Liao J. Anxiolytic effect of seed of Ziziphus jujuba in mouse models of anxiety. J Ethnopharmacol ( 2000;) 72:: 435–41.
- Zhang M, Ning G, Shou C, Lu Y, Hong D, Zheng X. Inhibitory effect of jujuboside A on glutamate-mediated excitatory signal pathway in hippocampus. Planta Med ( 2003;) 69:: 692–5.
- Jiang JG, Huang XJ, Chen J. Separation and purification of saponins from Semen Ziziphus jujuba and their sedative and hypnotic effects. J Pharm Pharmacol ( 2007;) 59:: 1175–80.
- Ma Y, Han H, Eun JS, Kim HC, Hong JT, Oh KW. Sanjoinine A isolated from Zizyphi Spinosi Semen augments pentobarbital-induced sleeping behaviors through the modification of GABA-ergic systems. Biol Pharm Bull ( 2007;) 30:: 1748–53.
- Stewart DE. Venlafaxine and sour date nut. Am J Psychiatry ( 2004;) 161:: 1129–30.
The other herbs in the formula include Chuanxiong, Fuling, Zhimu and Gancao. The effects of each material seems obvious at first. From a Chinese pharmacologic point of view, Chuanxiong regulates liver blood and clears blood stasis, Zhu Mu clears deficiency heat and nourishes yin, Gan Cao harmonizes, but what about Fu Ling? Fu Ling is known for draining dampness, but it should be noted that it enters the Heart meridian as well and thus, has an effect of tranquilizing the mind and calming the spirit.
I had read somewhere that the formula as a whole lowers epinephrine levels, but have yet to find the actual research stating such.
This formula was first noted in Zhang Zhongjing’s “Essentials from the Golden Cabinet”, around 208 AD. Truly a brilliant man.