Goji Berry

Also indexed as:Lycium barbarum, Lycium chinense
Goji Berry: Main Image
Botanical names:
Lycium barbarum, Lycium chinense

How It Works

Goji berries contain several nutrients as well as substances with potential biological effects.4 Polysaccharides make up a large percentage of the pulp, and when these polysaccharides were given to animals orally or directly into the stomach, they improved antioxidant status;5, 6 lowered blood levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and cholesterol;7, 8, 9 protected DNA;10, 11 slowed the growth and spread of cancer cells;12, 13 enhanced immune function;14, 15, 16 prevented fatigue during exercise;17 and improved sexual performance and fertility in partially castrated animals.18 However, very large amounts of purified goji berry polysaccharides were given to these animals, and no human research has been published investigating these effects, so whether people using goji berries or their juice in reasonable amounts would experience similar benefits is unknown.

Goji berries are also a rich source of zeaxanthin, a carotenoid that when consumed becomes concentrated in the macular pigment of the eye and may help protect the retina.19, 20 Both human and monkey studies have shown that consuming goji berries or extracts high in zeaxanthin raises blood levels of zeaxanthin,21, 22, 23, 24 but only animal research has verified that goji berry consumption increases macular pigment, and no research has looked at whether goji berries provide protection from diseases of the retina.

Other animal research has found that zeaxanthin extracts of goji berry and purified goji berry polysaccharides can each protect against liver damage.25, 26

How to Use It

Traditional Chinese medicine recommends boiling 5 to 15 grams of the dried berry to make a tea and drinking at least half a cup per day. Eating about 15 grams of whole goji berries is known to raise blood levels of zeaxanthin.27 No reliable information is available to establish a recommended amount of goji juice.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.

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