Mazlan has a passion for health and fitness. He enjoys yoga, cycling, home workouts, and healthy food.
Date Palm, the Tree of Life
You may be familiar with date fruits that are nutritious and healthy but do you know that date palm, the tree that produces date fruits, is the oldest fruit-bearing tree on earth?
And do you know that date palm is also the source of medicine and building materials for the Bedouin Arabs that live in the desert?
This tree of life was even mentioned in several Jewish, Christian and Islamic writings and was an important part of many religious ceremonies. It was even considered sacred by the early civilizations of the Babylonians and Phoenicians.
Let us explore and find out more about the benefits and uses of the date palm.
1. Medicinal Uses of Date Palms
The Bedouins, who live in the desert depend on the date palm tree for many of its daily needs including for medicine.
The Middle Eastern traditional medicine hence came from the Bedouins who use various parts of the date palm tree to treat a variety of ailments.
This traditional herbal remedy is claimed to work wonders and some of them are as follows:
1.1 Unripe Dates - The Natural Fertility Foods
In the open-air market in some parts of Saudi Arabia, you will find young unripe green dates (and the dried version) sold as fertility foods. I was told by these 'street vendors' that the Bedouin will boil the young unripe green dates or the dried version and drink the water to help them conceived. It tastes bitter and may not be easy to consume but if your desire is to conceive, it is worth giving it a try.
Date Flower for Fertility
In another market, instead of the green unripe dates, the street vendors were selling date flowers, which they claimed is more effective.
I have read that certain fruits including dates can improve the chances of conceiving. There is also an article that claimed date tree pollen can yield estrogenic principle that stimulates the function of the female ovaries and for males, the testes.
These could be the reasons why the seller in the second market claimed that date flower is more effective.
I have not read any articles on the effectiveness of young unripe green dates but if ripe dates can improve chances of conceiving, then I guess the unripe fruits may have the same ingredients to help you conceive.
You can try both just to be certain. There is no harm in trying as it is a plant-based food and not a drug.
Fertility-boosting ingredients are usually proteins that come from plant sources. It must also be rich in antioxidants, folate, iron, and calcium. These are all present in dates and even more potent in the unripe dates.
UPDATE: Link to studies on Effect of Dates on Infertility - Therapeutic effects of date fruits
1.2 Eating Dates During Pregnancy
Taking date fruits on a daily basis during pregnancy will help strengthen the uterine muscles. It will assist in the delivery and avert the post-delivery bleeding.
Dates are rich in potassium, glycine, and threonine that will activate prolactin, the milk hormone. It will promote the flow of milk, which is good for a breastfeeding woman. So, it is good to continue eating dates even after pregnancy.
1.3 How to Restore Health With Date
Dates are rich in Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, A and C, fiber, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sulfur, potassium, copper, magnesium, and manganese. Despite its sugar content, it is used to restore health to the anemic and frail due to its great source of nutrient content. The best way is to eat them fresh and not in cooking or juicing.
The date is a low-glycemic index food and its high natural sugar content will not significantly raise your blood sugar levels.
Muslims believed that Mary was asked by an angel to eat dates to give her strength and lessen the pain of childbirth when she gave birth to baby Jesus.
Quiz - Top Date Fruit Producing Country
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- Which is the top date producing country?
- Saudi Arabia
1.4 Other Medicinal Uses
Dates are the staple food of the Bedouins for centuries and medical records showed low occurrences of many fatal diseases including cancer and heart disease.
The Bedouins and other tribes from the Middle Eastern and Northern African countries also used date palms as their natural sources of medicine for the followings:
Date fruits to provide relief from:
- A sore throat
- Throat and chest infections by mixing equal amounts of dates, fig, hibiscus and raisin and boiled in water. Use as an expectorant.
- Bronchial asthma by mixing dates with fenugreek
- Use as astringent for an intestinal problem
- Counteracting alcohol intoxication
- Use as an aphrodisiac by mixing dates with milk and cinnamon
- Neutralizing poison by applying date paste onto the poisonous bite area
Gum from the date trunk used to:
- Treat diarrhea
- Genitourinary ailments
The date tree roots used to:
- Treat a toothache
Date Seeds are grounded into a paste to treat:
- Ague (condition of having both chills and fevers such as in malaria)
- Skin allergy
Powdered Date Seed
- Drinking coffee made from powdered date seed will help relieve gout pains (based on Egyptian Institute of Medicinal researches)
These are quite an impressive list of ailments but as a precaution, please refer to your doctor for further advice before you try on any of these traditional remedies.
2. Date Palm as a Source of Food
The date is the staple food and diet of the Bedouin and usually eaten with cardamom-flavored coffee.
To a desert traveler, the sight of a date palm not only meant food but also provide valuable shelter, shade, and water, as date trees will grow where there is water in the desert.
2.1 Fresh and Dried Dates Fruit
Date tree on average can produce between 50 to 300 lbs. (25 kg - 136 kg) of date fruit annually. There are several varieties of date fruit available and Egypt named one of its finest and expensive varieties after the US president, Obama. This marketing ploy works as it is the most sought-after dates in Egypt.
Whether you eat Obama dates or otherwise, a date can be eaten out of hand and no special preparation or cooking is required. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and hence, a complete nutritious meal on its own. It freezes well and can be stored and enjoyed all year round.
You can sprinkle chopped dates on your cereals and ice cream. Dates are also used in cooking bread, cakes, and other desserts.
Dates are also processed into paste, syrup, jam, jelly, date cubes, date sugar powder, date vinegar and even date alcohol.
Dates are now marketed as chocolate-covered dates and sprinkled with chopped pistachios, walnuts and raisins.
Most farmers will do selective culling while the fruit is developing for a more productive harvest. These culled date fruits will be dehydrated, grounded and mixed with other grains and used as feedstock.
Overstock dried dates are given as food to camels and horses.
In some African countries, dates and peppers are added to their native beer to make it less potent and intoxicating.
2.2 Date Seeds
Can you eat palm tree seeds? Not directly, but if you want a different flavored coffee, try roasting date seeds. Desert travelers used this as a cheap alternative to their favorite beverage. Add cardamom and you will get a mild version of 'Arabic coffee'.
Otherwise, you can grind the date seeds and turn it into nutritional animal-feeds for goats, camels, sheep, cows, and chickens.
More uses of date seeds other than for food are discussed below.
2.3 Date Leaves
The terminal bud and young date leaves, which are rich in phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, and ash, can be turned into a salad or cooked as a vegetable dish.
3. Date Palm for Commercial & Industrial Uses
Date palm tree is primarily planted for its fruits. It has other uses as well in the commercial and industrial sectors. In fact, some of these by-products equaled or are more important than the date fruits itself.
3.1 Uses from Date Palm Tree
The common and most straightforward commercial use of date palm tree is in landscaping. The sight of streets lined with date palm trees will evoke an exotic and classy aura to the area. Hence, the extensive use of these majestic date trees in resorts and upmarket housing area.
Date palm tree requires lots of sunshine. So, if you intend to use them in your landscaping, choose an open area that received the most sunlight hours. It can withstand high and low temperatures but must not drop below 20 degrees F (- 6 degrees C).
3.2 Uses from Date Seed
Dates seed oils, which are rich in several fatty acids are used in soaps and cosmetics. The chemical structure of date seed oil makes it suitable as an ingredient for oxalic acid. Date seed health benefits include protective effects against early diabetic complications, prevent DNA damage, protect liver and kidney.
Despite its small size, date seed can be burnt and used as effective charcoal.
3.3 Amazing Uses from Date Palm Trunk and Leaves
Date Leaves Stalk
The date leaves stalk or spine is long and slender but is strong and can stand the weight of several men. They are used as roof rafters, grids, fences, flooring for small huts, fishing rod, simple furniture, crates, and burned for fuel or converted into charcoal.
The fibrous part is turned into rope and the base, which is wider is beaten and made into a hand broom.
The leaves as a whole are used as fencing, as partitioning in enclosures, as roofing material in mud-house construction and weaved into baskets and mats.
Empty fruit bunches are dried and used as brooms.
The date trunk may not be strong as compared to temperate or tropical trees but it has high tensile strength. Hence, used in the construction of small canal bridges, houses and also burned for fuel.
Elastic fibers that surround the date trunk are weaved into horse and camel saddles.
Date Tree Trivia
Date Tree Pollination
Do you know that only female date tree will bear fruits? And one male tree will yield sufficient pollen to pollinate up to 50 female date trees
4. Date and Religion
As mentioned earlier, the date palm has religious significance and mentioned in several Jewish, Christian and Islamic writings.
The date fruit is one of the seven holy fruits mentioned in the Torah. It is also one of the staple foods for the people of Israel during ancient times. During the Sukkot holiday or the Feast of Tabernacles, date palm is one of the four species used in daily prayers.
In the Bible, there are 42 references made to the date palm tree. Palm Sunday is celebrated in remembrance of Jesus Christ's glorious entry into Jerusalem, where Christians greeted Jesus by waving date palm branches and covering the pathway with date leaves.
In Islam, date fruit and date palm trees are mentioned in several places in the Quran. It is also mentioned more than any other fruit-bearing plant in the Qur’an. The Prophet said:
“Break your fast by eating dates as it is purifying”
The following refers to Mary (Mariam) when she was about to give birth to Baby Jesus (Isa)
“And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree; she cried (in her anguish) "Ah! Would that I had died before this! Would that I have been a thing forgotten and out of sight." But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree): Grieve not! For thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee; and shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee. So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye.”
Ancient Egyptian Uses of Dates
Do you know that in ancient Egypt, the remedy for hair growth is to boil date kernels, dog's bone and donkey's hoof with oil or fat? It is then used as an ointment and spread on the head. Unfortunately, there is no documented evidence of the effectiveness.of this very elaborate concoction. I doubt if it is still being prepared in Contemporary Eygpt.
The Extraordinary and Useful Date Palm Tree
Not many trees can claim to be as resourceful as date palm trees except for coconut trees, which has several uses as well.
The benefits of date palms were mentioned in many religions and used in its religious ceremonies. The Bedouins had exploited and used every part of the tree for centuries and it had served them well. There are also several health benefits of date palm fruit and many delicious recipes that used dates as the main ingredients. My favorite is banana-dates smoothie.
If you come across a date palm tree, say thank you for providing the many benefits and uses since ancient times.
Harvesting Date Fruits
- NCBI - The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labor and delivery
- Journal of Midwifery & Reproductive Health
- NCBI - Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects
- NCBI - Protective effect of Date seeds against diabetic
- NCBI - Date seed protection against liver intoxication
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: Does the date palm tree give a cool or hot space under their shadows?
Answer: From my experience living in the Middle East, any shaded area is much cooler than the unshaded area even during the hot summer months. So the same thing applies if you stand under a shaded date palm tree area.
Question: What is the recommended intake level of date seeds?
Answer: For the powdered version like coffee, one teaspoon should suffice. You can double it for a stronger flavor.
Question: Are dates good for heart patients too?
Answer: Yes, several studies have confirm this.
Question: Can we buy date fruits anywhere in Israel?
Answer: I have not been there but I am sure date fruits are available in Israel.
© 2013 MazlanA
MazlanA (author) from Malaysia on July 19, 2020:
Hi Fiona. So now you know :-) Thanks for dropping by and commenting.
Fiona from South Africa on July 09, 2020:
Thanks for this thorough article. I had no idea that dates could help with colds and detoxing. I'll often have a few dried dates as a snack at night instead of sweets. Now I know they're a health food too :)
zeee on April 23, 2019:
does anyone know where i can purchase date seed oil from online if so plz link it . thank you
MazlanA (author) from Malaysia on September 11, 2018:
Yes. Date plant and fruits are in the northern part of Africa: Eygpt, Libya, Tunisia etc. But you can buy date fruit in almost all parts of Africa
Regina Armosseh on September 06, 2018:
Is date fruit available in Africa
MazlanA (author) from Malaysia on June 24, 2018:
Peter thanks for sharing this important info. Can you give me the study reference that I can put in the article? TQ
Peter Mkande on June 22, 2018:
Dates can help to improves the healthy of Tuberculosis Patient
MazlanA (author) from Malaysia on June 03, 2018:
Debanam, thanks for dropping by and commenting.
DEBANAM PRIYA PRIYADARSHI MOHANTY on June 02, 2018:
THANK YOU FOR THE INFORMATION......
MazlanA (author) from Malaysia on February 02, 2018:
Hi Tien, yeah that happens to most people. Not to worry, you can always go back there for a holiday:-)
TienLow on January 30, 2018:
I was working in Dubai and never given the date tree much thought or even bother to get to know more of the date tree. Reading your post, I regreted for my action.
Jamiu on July 15, 2017:
What are the other uses of the roots in specifics?
MazlanA (author) from Malaysia on October 25, 2016:
afuazan, based on the study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, usage of date palm pollen can increase sperm count and can improve fertility factors in men. It is taken through oral administration.
afuazan on October 25, 2016:
I want to know how to use powder datse pollen
MazlanA (author) from Malaysia on August 17, 2016:
Hi, chalse mickens. This is a good observation. Those that are urbanized are probably exposed to processed food! Thanks for dropping by sharing.
chalse mickens on July 11, 2016:
Im sure the part about date helping in fertility is true since I see the bedouins here (saudi arabia) have lots of kids and it is not uncommon for older women to be having kids and grandkids of the same age, though I've noticed the ones who are urbanised have a harder time conceiving. Also shop keepers here can tell that you are an outsider if you wear spectacles, I think its the dates that keeps their vision strong.
ashiq on February 07, 2016:
what is the palm random?
kavya on October 11, 2014:
oh dates which we get are from date palm tree I think
MazlanA (author) from Malaysia on April 21, 2014:
CLakshminarasimhan, thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience. I am glad to hear that dates with honey had improved your health.
CLakshminarasimhan on April 19, 2014:
It is nice see various of Date palm tree uses and religious implications.
It can be easily compared with coconuts of south India. The values are almost same. I have seen some plants in California .In Bahrain many varieties and its product I have seen.Really beautiful.I use to take dates with honey and raw fruits of dates in Denver to improve my healthy at my age 70.
Lee Raynor from Citra Florida on January 22, 2014:
Yeah, temps that cold are rare but they have happened.I'm getting good at protecting plants from the rare cold spells we have
MazlanA (author) from Malaysia on January 21, 2014:
@chefsref, I can only share with you whatever little info that I have on planting dates palm tree as I have left Saudi and no longer worked there. Their winter temperature can go below zero esp. in the desert area but to be at 19F i.e. -7.22 C, for young seedlings may be tough. I did not know that North Florida's temperature can go to 19F!
When I visited a Dates Palm plantation last year, just outside Madinah in Saudi Arabia, I saw seedlings sprouting from date’s seeds, but since this is a commercial farm, these were removed as they used breeding plants. Therefore, your query on growing date plant from seed, it is possible.
You may want to check out this short article on Planting Date Palm in SOUTH Florida for more info http://miami-dade.ifas.ufl.edu/pdfs/ornamental/orn...
Lee Raynor from Citra Florida on January 19, 2014:
Good info here, voted up. I'm trying to grow my own date palms from seed here in North Florida. Any tips or hints? I have 3, about 9 months old which I plan on keeping potted for another year or longer so I can control their environment. I previously read that a mature tree would take a temp down to 25 degrees, are you confident with 20 degrees?
I used to see temperatures down to 19 degrees but in recent years the lowest I have seen has been 27 degrees.
How old do you think the tree has to be to withstand the cold?
How old does the tree need to be to flower/fruit?
How close together should they be planted for successful pollination?
MazlanA (author) from Malaysia on March 13, 2013:
@teaches12345 and @Om Paramapoonya. Thanks for dropping by and your support. The great thing about HubPages is that, we learn so many things that we have not heard or known before. A case in point are the many uses of date palms that even to me were new knowledge until I traveled to Saudi Arabia and do research online.
Dianna Mendez on March 11, 2013:
I have seen this as ingredients on some products I purchase and now I know what it looks like and where it comes from. It provides so many benefits to the body. Well done.
Om Paramapoonya on March 11, 2013:
I'm not familiar with dates at all. I only eat dried dates as snacks sometimes. I had no idea we could also use date seeds and leaves in cooking. It was an interesting read. Thanks a lot!
MazlanA (author) from Malaysia on March 10, 2013:
@kidscrafts and @girishpuri, thanks for dropping by and commenting
@Riviera Rose, your cyclist partner knows what he is doing as date is a lot better than energy bars! Thanks for the votes and sharing your experience.
Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on March 07, 2013:
Date palms have wonderful properties, thanks for sharing, wonderful hub.
Riviera Rose from South of France on March 06, 2013:
That was really interesting - I love dates and my cyclist partner stuffs date slice into his back pocket whenever he ventures out (much to the amusement of his cycling buddies, who all eat commercially-produced energy bars). I had no idea about all the other uses, though - thank you! Voted up and interesting.
kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on March 06, 2013:
Thank you for all that information! Whatever the reason we eat that fruit....it's just delicious!