Main Narrative » The Nourishing Power of Dates

Ethnobotanical Uses of Dates

By Tara Allen

Apr 10 2024

Although eating the fruit may be the most well-known use of the date palm, almost every part of it can be used in some way. For example, the trunk of the plant can be used as a building material or fuel, the pits can be made into oil for cooking or soap making, and the fronds can be used to make items such as baskets and shades (Chao & Krueger, 2007). Additionally, the fruits may be made into other products such as molasses, sugar, juice, and vinegar (Chao & Krueger, 2007). New uses are also emerging, such as processing the fronds that have been pruned into fibers that can be used for textiles (International Fiber Journal, 2020). Click here to learn more about other plant-based fibers.

Dates have long been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, including fevers, sore throats, and intestinal issues (Chao & Krueger, 2007). The health benefits of dates are mentioned throughout the Qur’an and hadiths [narrations about the life of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)]. For example, in the Qur’an [19:23-19:25] it is told that Maryam [Mary] (AS) was provided with and instructed to eat dates to ease the pain of childbirth when she was pregnant with the Prophet Isa [Jesus] (AS). Scientific support for some of these traditional and religiously-backed uses is growing, underscoring the importance of making space for traditional sources of knowledge in modern science. Several studies have shown that eating dates leading up to and during labor may speed the process and reduce the need for medical induction and intervention though further study is needed to confirm these effects (Al-Kuran et al., 2011; Karimi et al., 2020).

Studies have also demonstrated that dates are antioxidant rich which may allow them to help fight disease and reduce inflammation in the body (Al-Shwyeh, 2019). Extracts from date seeds have also been shown to be able to reduce cell growth and viability in several types of cancer cells in laboratory tests (Alkhoori et al., 2022). They have also been found to be able to inhibit the growth of certain pathogens such as the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause infections that are difficult to treat with antibiotics (Alkhoori et al., 2022; Al-Shwyeh, 2019). Hopefully in the future these properties of dates can be harnessed to create novel ways of treating diseases with fewer adverse effects than current treatments.


Alkhoori, M. A., Kong, A. S., Aljaafari, M. N., Abushelaibi, A., Lim, S. E., Cheng, W., Chong, C., Lai, K. (2022). Biochemical Composition and Biological Activities of Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) Seeds: A Review. Biomolecules, 12(11), 1626. Retrieved 12 March 2024, from
Al-Kuran, O., Al-Mehaisen, L., Bawadi, H., Beitawi, S., Amarin, Z. (2011). The Effect of Late Pregnancy Consumption of Date Fruit on Labour and Delivery. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 31(1), 29-31. Retrieved 17 March 2024, from
Al-Shwyeh, H. A. (2019). Date Palm (Phoenix Dactylifera L.) Fruit as Potential Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Agents. Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Science, 11(1), 1-11. Retrieved 17 March, 2024, from
Chao, C. T., & Krueger, R. R. (2007). The Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.): Overview of Biology, Uses, and Cultivation. HortScience, 42(5), 1077-1082. Retrieved 10 March 2024, from
International Fiber Journal. (2020, December 23). Plant-Based Fiber Provides a Truly Sustainable Alternative for Various Applications. Retrieved 3 April 2024, from
Karimi, A. B., Elmi, A., Mirghafourvand, M., Navid, R. B. (2020). Effects of date fruit (Phoenix dactylifera L.) on Labor and Delivery Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 20(1), 210. Retrieved 15 March 2024, from 10.1186/s12884-020-02915-x