Chinese red dates for insomnia and blood deficiency

Chinese red dates are one of the most popular foods used for health. Dried chinese dates are red, soft on the outside with a sweet smell. Inside being soft and moist. Throughout all seasons they are available from a Chinese market or grocer as well as through the world. Chinese people treat dates not only as a food but also as a health tonic and a traditional herb. Many traditional herbal formulas include dates as they are used for balancing the formula, Qi and blood for the body. Likewise they are also used in dishes to balance the food. On special occasions many people buy quality dates and give these as gifts to their friends and relatives.


It is unfortunate that even today they are not very popular in Western food and diet therapy culture. Many people do not know that chinese dates have such beneficial effects for human health. In this article I would like the share the benefits of Chinese red dates.

1. The effects of Chinese red dates.

1) Tonifying Blood

An ancient traditional Chinese books called ‘Ben Jin’ and Chinese herbal text books all mention that Chinese dates can strengthen the spleen and stomach Qi (energy) which helps to digest food, tonify blood and tranquilize the mind. Chinese medicine considers that the formation of blood is through good digestion and absorption of food which is mainly helped by the spleen and stomach. If spleen and stomach Qi are weakened it will affect the blood supply and its function, this may lead to blood deficiency (iron deficiency) and may also have the following symptoms, such as; poor appetite, lack of energy, pallor, lack of muscle on the arm and legs, overweight, diarrhea, sluggish bowl movement or bowl movement straight after eating, bloating after eating, stomach craps or diarrhea from eating cold food, or light and shorter menstruation and insomnia. Some people may also suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, under-reactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), miscarriages or infertility.

A few weeks ago, I helps a lady fall pregnant. This lady suffered from Qi and blood deficiency. She had pallor, lethargy, with light and short periods. I treated her, using acupuncture to balance internal Qi and blood as well as teaching her beef bone soup with red dates to drink. After a couple of months she had increased energy, with a pink health colour in her face with regular periods. She also fell pregnant, I am very happy for her.

Usually when I treat this type of case, I balance the spleen and stomach Qi function to increase the blood. This will help to increase the blood but also cause all symptoms to subside. I suggest that those who are undergoing treatment or want to prevent this problem to eat certain foods such as Chinese Red Dates. (Please check the recipe below)

2) Improving insomnia

Chinese dates are suitable for people who have insomnia from lack of Qi and blood. Chinese medicine considers one of the major causes of insomnia is due to Qi and blood deficiency such as the blood being unable to moisturize the liver and heart causing a ying and yang disorder. This will cause problems with sleeping.  Usually this can cause the following symptoms; light sleep (easy to be woken), lots of vivid dreams, lack of energy from the beginning of the day. These people may also experience dizziness, lower blood pressure, palpitations, pale skin, and shortness of breath especially during activities or tremorring hands when tired. For these people it is suitable to eat Chinese dates whilst undergoing treatment. (Please check recipe below)

3) To help protect the liver, reduce cholesterol and prevent cancer

I will share some information from modern science research which is noted in Traditional Chinese Text Book mentions chinese dates contain high levels of Vitamin C, also having the function of protecting the liver, help reduce cholesterol and increase the bodies immune system and may help reduce the risk of cancer.


2. Recipe

Chinese dates can be eaten many ways, but in general they are very easy to cook. First of all, you can eat fresh dates as they are. Secondly, you are able to cook them with porridge, steamed rice or as a soup. I suggest that adults eat 5 dates at once, three or four times a week for general health care.

1) How to cook chinese red date porridge

One hand full of white rice
5 chinese red dates (remove the seed)
3 cups of water

Bring the rice and whole dates to the boil and simmer until the rice is soft and the liquid is sticky (around 30 minutes). After cooking the porridge smell is very nice with a taste which is mildly sweet. It is best to eat when warm. However during summer you can eat the porridge at room temperature. You can have a small bowl of chinese date porridge for breakfast or for desert.


Strengthens the digestive system and tonifies blood.

2) How to cook chinese dates and lotus seed porridge

This porridge is cooked the same way as chinese date porridge, but instead of using 5 chinese dates you also add 5 lotus seeds.


Tonifying spleen function and increases blood and helps those with sleeping issues.

3) Beef bone soup with red dates

1kg Beef bones with a little meat
8 cups of water
20 Chinese red dates

Cook and boil the beef bone until it is boiled. Then cook slowly for 4 hours. 30 minutes before eating add the chinese red dates and cook. You can add salt and pepper for taste and your favorite vegetables.

Effects:  Increases energy and blood and warms the circulation.

3. Precautions

1) For the following conditions it is best to lessen the amount or avoid eating chinese red dates; constipation, smelly stool, stomach bloating and body heat or fever, red face, bad breathe, cough with yellow phlegm, worms, teeth disease including gum and tooth pain or infection, and mouth ulcers.

2) If you are unsure whether you should eat chinese date please advise your Health practitioner.

I remember 40 years ago when I lived in Beijing Hu Tong (Street). A lot of the houses there had many date trees and in November which is Autumn, it would be the harvest time for the dates. There were many red dates hanging off the trees, just like red lanterns looking so beautiful. The tastes of the dates from different homes had different tastes, some may be crunchy, soft, sour or sweet, so many children exchanged dates with all their friends to try everyones home grown dates. Everyone knew that if they ate too many dates it would cause them to bloat and have diarrhea, so they would only eat 10 dates.

A few years ago the government cleared the street and changed it into a park so there are no longer many red date trees in Hu Tong. But the beautiful image of the date trees are still in my memory.

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30 Responses to Chinese red dates for insomnia and blood deficiency

  1. Jack 28 November, 2010 at 1:06 pm #

    this is news to me. thanks for the great article.

  2. Suzanne 21 August, 2011 at 1:42 am #

    I suffer from blood disorder ( thalassaemia) and low qi but now i understand at last that it has been the reason for my tendency to insomnia and light sleep, and ALL the other symptoms you list. I have been taking red date and dang gui tea with ginger for a year and my blood count (red blood cell) went up. Now i will try red date porridge! Yummy!

  3. mar 31 July, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    I suffer from a disease called thrombocytosis, which is characterized by high platelet counts; my platelets range from 700 hundred to 900 thousand but i have been as high as 2 million before. They have manage to get it down with a medication called hydrea, which has many bad side effects of which i am very afraid of. Even with the hydrea i have not been able to go lower than 700 thousand. Hydrea makes my stomach burn and this is one of the milder side effects. I constantly live with the threat of stroke with the high platelets and cancer as the side effect of hydrea. What can i do? Thank you for taking my question; grateful Mar.

    • Ping Ming Health 10 December, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

      Dear Mar, thank you for your question. Thrombocytosis is not a commonly treated condition by Chinese medicine and there is not enough evidence at this time to recommend that Chinese medicine may be effective. However, Chinese medicine may be able to assist with the side effects of your medication. If you are interested, we suggest you visit an experienced Chinese medicine practitioner who can take a detailed history of your condition and offer further advice.

  4. Leigh Ann Lipscomb 26 October, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    Are these ok for women who get hot flashes? Thanks!

    • Ping Ming Health 10 December, 2013 at 7:35 am #

      Dear Leigh Ann, Chinese red dates are warm in nature. If your body generally feels very warm and you have symptoms of poor digestion (eg. bloating, constipation, reflux) or cough with phlegm, then they may not be suitable for you to eat in large amounts.

  5. plyn 13 December, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    Thks for the valuable infomation!
    Can i know if the beef bone soup with red dates are suitable for 3year old kid? My son has poor appetite, pale looking, i thought of cooking some soups to boost him up


    • Ping Ming Health 14 December, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Yes, we suggest cooking the beef until it is very tender to make it easy to digest. We hope your son enjoys this soup!

  6. glw 30 December, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    I’ve been diagnose with low iron, GP given iron supplements. I also have itchy skin rashes behind the neck and on both my legs. I also have a white tongue and constipation. Would the red date porridge be suitable for me?

    • Ping Ming Health 11 February, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      It does sound like red dates may be a suitable food for you to eat. However, if your symptoms don’t improve we suggest you visit an experienced Chinese medicine practitioner for a diagnosis and further advice.

  7. rachel 10 March, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    When is the suitable time for ladies to take red dates in a
    particular month?
    Can they consume it during their menses?

    • Ping Ming Health 17 April, 2014 at 9:25 pm #

      Dear Rachel, any time is fine if you eat a small amount regularly. Otherwise, the time after your menses finishes is most suitable because it is when you need to replenish the blood you have lost (especially if your menstruation is heavy or longer in duration).

  8. Abdul Khalid 11 March, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    I have just undergone a Coronary Bypass Artery Graft operation and the Doctor has given me medicine including “warfarin, Aspirin” for thinning the blood. My question is if I take “Chinese Red Dates”, will the “Chinese Red Dates” collude with my medicine especially the blood thinning.

    • Ping Ming Health 17 April, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

      Dear Abdul, there is no known interaction of Chinese red dates with blood thinning medication such as warfarin. Eating Chinese red dates a few times a week should help to improve the quality of your blood. We suggest not eating red dates at the same time you take your medicines.

  9. kay kay 25 January, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    Hi, I have been diagnosed with IBS so I always have bowel movement immediately after I eat (especially in the morning), and have been suffering from painful menstrual cramps and frequent spotting which makes me feel dizzy from the lost of blood. Does red dates with ginger soup help?

    • Ping Ming Health 30 June, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

      Dear kay kay, we suggest you can try taking it a couple of times per week. If your symptoms don’t improve after a month, then please consider visiting an experienced Chinese medicine practitioner for a consultation and diagnosis.

  10. Connie chang 13 April, 2015 at 7:46 am #

    May I know if red dates r good for Qi, wat if I always have bad breathe issues, can I still take small amount of red dates? Can you pls advise how to cure severe bad breathe? I hv consulted so many doctors n physicians but issues are nvr solve. Thanks

    • Ping Ming Health 30 June, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

      Dear Connie, thanks for your question. If your main complaint is bad breath, this is a sign of a weakness with your stomach and digestive system. In this case, eating too many red dates would not help the problem if your stomach cannot fully digest them. We suggest consulting an experienced Chinese medicine practitioner. In our experience, you’ll need to pay attention to your digestion, bowel movements, oral health and the quality of your diet.

  11. Christine 3 May, 2015 at 5:16 pm #


    Thanks for sharing your article.

    I recently boiled red dates water using 65 pieces of small red dates. Is this too much for the body? Will there be any side effects?

    Look forward to your reply.


    • Ping Ming Health 30 June, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

      Thanks for your question Christine. We do think that 65 pieces is quite a lot! We hope you didn’t drink it all at once. Possible side effects of eating too many red dates could be stomach bloating, nausea and/or diarrhoea. If you experience any of these symptoms we suggest you reduce the amount you are eating.

  12. Narelle 19 June, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

    I live in Hillary’s and was wanting to buy Chinese dates can you tell where I can buy them from please

    • Ping Ming Health 30 June, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

      Dear Narelle, we suggest visiting a Chinese/Asian food grocer who may stock them. Otherwise you could also try a health food store.

  13. Athifa 9 April, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

    Recently only i knew about red dates and very curious about it. I am on medication for hyperthyroid. And also i have a week gum and teeth problem. So will it be ok or good to take 5dates per day?

    • Ping Ming Health 11 December, 2016 at 9:37 pm #

      Dear Athifa, red dates may not be suitable for you if you have hyperthyroidism and experience painful gums due to excess heat. Overeating them could worsen your symptoms. Please consult with a Chinese medicine practitioner who can check your body and help you with your symptoms.

  14. Faye 25 August, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

    I am scheduled to have an abdomen surgery on 10 Sep 16 but the recent blood test shows my haemoglobin level is too low (<9) for the surgery and doctor has postponed my operation. He asked me to take iron pills to boost up the HB level but I tend to have headache after the pill.

    Can you please kindly advise what should I take to increase my haemoglobin level? I prefer through diet instead of the pill as the pill make me sick. Do you think the beef bone + red date soup has good effect on this?

    Thank you.

    • Ping Ming Health 12 December, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

      Dear Faye, perhaps you can also try a lower dose of the iron? You can certainly have the beef bone and red date soup. A Chinese medicine practitioner can also prescribe you Qi and Blood Tonifying herbal medicine as well.

  15. deeznuts 21 October, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

    I hate dates they never go out with me

    • Ping Ming Health 11 December, 2016 at 8:53 pm #

      Thanks for the chuckle! Laughter is the best medicine.

  16. Kanti Selig 27 November, 2016 at 11:37 pm #

    Hello dear Sir,
    I’ve heard that red dates boiled with celery and drink the tea are good for high blood pressure. My BP is VERY high, what do you think of this remedy or do you have other suggestion?
    Thank you for all that you do to help others!
    Kanti Selig

    • Ping Ming Health 11 December, 2016 at 8:32 pm #

      Dear Kanti, Chinese red dates are not helpful for high blood pressure and sometimes they can make the problem worse. Celery, tomato and watermelon juice however are beneficial to have. If your blood pressure is very high and not helped by your blood pressure medications, I suggest you to see an experienced Chinese medicine practitioner who can help you to diagnose and treat the underlying cause.

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