Zizyphus is a small thorny evergreen tree, with vine-like branches and dark green leaves. It has egg-shaped fruit of orange or brown in color, with edible acid pulp and hard central stone. The fruit has two varieties - the wild one, called jharberi, is small and round, while the cultivated fruit is oval, fleshy and bigger in size. It is sweeter compared to the smaller kind.
Zizyphus consist of moisture 81.6 percent, protein 0.8 percent, fat 0.3 percent, minerals 0.3 percent and carbohydrates 17.0 percent per 100 grams. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, iron, phosphorus, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. Its calorific value is 74. Both the varieties of the fruit contain zizyphus acid and tannins.
Botanical Name: Zizyphus jujuba
Indian Name: Ber
Below are some of the medicinal properties of zizyphus:
- A paste of zizyphus leaves and twigs can be applied with excellent results over boils, carbuncles and abscesses to promote suppuration. It can also be applied beneficially over painful boils and styes. This paste, mixed with a teaspoon of lime juice can be applied as a poultice in the treatment of scorpion sting. Infusion of its leaves can be applied as a lotion to wash the wounds and other ulcers.
- It is also beneficial in preventing frequent attacks of colds and influenza. A teaspoon of the fresh juice of the fruit can be taken with a pinch of pepper once daily for preventing colds.
- The leaves are useful in treating conjunctivitis. An infusion of the leaves should be used as an eye lotion.
- Zizyphus is useful in the treatment of mental retardation. A handful of the dry fruit if boiled in half a liter of water till it is reduced to half. Sugar or honey can be added to taste and given daily at night before retiring. It increases the functioning of the brain by releasing more glutamic acid into the bloodstream.
- The bark of zizyphus can be used for treating diarrhea, dysentery and colic. The infusion of the inner covering of the bark is used as a purgative in constipation.
- Infusion of the fresh and tender leaves, mixed with salt is a useful gargle for sore throat, relaxed uvula, inflammation of the mouth, bleeding from gums and cracked tongue due to excessive consumption of sour fruits.
- The paste of zizyphus leaves applied over the scalp and hair can keep them clean and prevents scalp diseases. It also lengthens the hair besides darkening them.
- Fresh baked leaves of zizyphus are useful in piles. The leaves are baked by placing them over the covered with another plate to prevent steam from escaping. Those baked leaves are pounded with some castor oil. This warm poultice can be applied over the piles. The process should be repeated twice daily for a week.