Smart Publications

Clarifying the Complex World of Nutrition Science

  • Email this article
  • Print this article
  • A
  • A
  • A

Goji Berry—The King of the Berries—Supports Heart, Brain and Overall Health

Also known as Lycium barbarum fruit, goji berry grows on a bush and is native to northwestern China. The oblong-shaped berries are bright red and contain 20-40 tiny seeds, and can be eaten raw, or made into a juice or wine, brewed for tea, or prepared as a tincture. But it’s the extracted phytochemicals used in nutritional supplements that provide the most potent health benefits.

Goji berry has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years as a health tonic to promote overall health and healthy eyesight, strengthen the immune system, protect the liver, improve circulation and sperm production, and to enhance sexual performance. It has also been used as a remedy for diabetes, anemia, tinnitus, and lung diseases.

In TCM terms, goji berries are sweet in taste and neutral in nature, they act on the liver, lung, and kidney channels and enhance “chi” or life force. Goji berry continues to be a revered and popular health tonic in China. In fact, in 1983 the Ministry of the Public Health of China approved goji berry to be marketed as a botanical medicine.

Goji berry’s important phytochemicals:

  1. Polysaccharides are long-chain sugar molecules and are a distinguishing characteristic of goji berry. They are a primary source of dietary fiber in the intestinal system, and once they are metabolized polysaccharides:
    • support and maintain the health of the colonic mucosal lining
    • lower pH and reduce colon cancer risk
    • enhance mineral uptake
    • stabilize blood glucose levels
    • stimulate the immune system
    • offer antioxidant protection
  2. Zeaxanthin, an antioxidant in the carotenoid family—a group of naturally occurring, fat-soluble pigments found in plants that play a key role in our immune system support—are abundantly found in goji berry. Zeaxanthin is a powerful vision protector that accumulates in the macula, the prominent, bright yellow spot in the center of the retina that allows you to clearly distinguish fine detail. The concentration of zeaxanthin in the center of the macula is about 85 times greater than its concentration in the periphery. Consequently, many researchers believe zeaxanthin (and lutein, another carotenoid) may be a potent protectant against macular degeneration 1-6, and may retard aging of the lens in preventing cataracts from forming.78 So, vision support is another one of goji berry’s many health benefits.
  3. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid pigment in orange-red foods like goji berry, pumpkins, carrots, and salmon. It is important for the synthesis of vitamin A (a fat-soluble nutrient and antioxidant that is essential for normal growth), vision, cell structure, bones and teeth, and healthy skin. Goji berry’s beta-carotene content is among the highest for edible plants.

Scientific research

Most of the research on goji berries over the past 30 years has come out of China, but international awareness about its health benefits is growing.

Page 1 of 3 pages  1 2 3 >

Editor's Note:

The natural health solutions described in this article are available through many on-line retailers including those listed below. By clicking these links you help support the important alternative health research we provide.

Visit International Antiaging-Systems for hard to find therapies. They specialize in Tomorrow's Treatments Today™.

Visit www.amazon.com – a great way to find competitive deals on supplements offered by many different manufacturers.

Visit VitaE8 - The Ultimate Vitamin E – to learn more about the importance of full-spectrum vitamin E supplements.

This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with a physician before embarking on a dietary supplement program.

References

  1. Bernstein PS, Zhao DY, Wintch SW, Ermakov IV, McClane RW, Gellermann W. Resonance Raman measurement of macular carotenoids in normal subjects and in age-related macular degeneration patients. Ophthalmology  2002 Oct;109(10):1780.

  2. Snellen EL, Verbeek AL, Van Den Hoogen GW, Cruysberg JR, Hoyng CB. Neovascular age-related macular degeneration and its relationship to antioxidant intake. Acta Ophthalmol Scand 2002 Aug;80(4):368-71.

  3. Wooten BR, Hammond BR. Macular pigment: influences on visual acuity and visibility. Prog Retin Eye Res 2002 Mar;21(2):225-40.

  4. Shaban H, Richter C. Biol Chem 2002 Mar-Apr;383(3-4):537-45 A2E and blue light in the retina: the paradigm of age-related macular degeneration. Biol Chem  2002 Mar-Apr;383(3-4):537-45.

  5. Rock CL, Thornquist MD, Neuhouser ML, Kristal AR, Neumark-Sztainer D, Cooper DA, Patterson RE, Cheskin LJ. Diet and lifestyle correlates of lutein in the blood and diet. Nutr 2002 Mar;132(3):525S-530S.

  6. Mares-Perlman JA, Millen AE, Ficek TL, Hankinson SE.

  7. The body of evidence to support a protective role for lutein and zeaxanthin in delaying chronic disease. Overview. J Nutr  2002 Mar;132(3):518S-524S.

  8. Berendschot TT, Broekmans WM, Klopping-Ketelaars IA, Kardinaal AF, Van Poppel G, Van Norren D. Lens aging in relation to nutritional determinants and possible risk factors for age-related cataract. Arch Ophthalmol  2002 Dec;120(12):1732-7.

  9. Hammond BR, et al. Preservation of visual sensitivity of older subjects; association with macular pigment density. Inv Ophthalmol 1996;93:54-8.

  10. Young, G, Lawrence, R., Schreuder, M. Discovery of the Ultimate Superfood. Essential Science Pub, July 2005.

  11. Wu SJ, Ng LT, Lin CC. Antioxidant activities of some common ingredients of traditional Chinese medicine, Angelica sinensis, Lycium barbarum and Poria cocos. Phytother Res. 2004 Dec;18(12):1008-12.

  12. Zhao R, Li Q, Xiao B. Effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on the improvement of insulin resistance in NIDDM rats. Yakugaku Zasshi. 2005 Dec;125(12):981-8. 

  13. Deng HB, et al., “Inhibiting affects of Achyranthes bidentata polysaccharide and Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on nonenzyme glycation in D-galatose induced mouse aging model,” Biomed Environ Sci. 2003 Sep; 16(3):267-75.

  14. Wu H, Guo H, Zhao R. Effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on the improvement of antioxidant ability and DNA damage in NIDDM rats.  Yakugaku Zasshi. 2006 May;126(5):365-71.

  15. Huang X, Yang M, Wu X, Yan J. [Study on protective action of lycium barbarum polysaccharides on DNA imparments of testicle cells in mice] Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2003 Nov;32(6):599-601.

  16. Yu MS, Leung SK, Lai SW, Che CM, Zee SY, So KF, Yuen WH, Chang RC. Neuroprotective effects of anti-aging oriental medicine Lycium barbarum against beta-amyloid peptide neurotoxicity. Exp Gerontol. 2005 Aug-Sep;40(8-9):716-27.

  17. Cao GW, Yang WG, Du P.  [Observation of the effects of LAK/IL-2 therapy combining with Lycium barbarum polysaccharides in the treatment of 75 cancer patients] Zhonghua Zhong Liu Za Zhi. 1994 Nov;16(6):428-31. [Article in Chinese]

  18. Gan L, Wang J, Zhang S. [Inhibition the growth of human leukemia cells by Lycium barbarum polysaccharide] Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2001 Nov;30(6):333-5. [Article in Chinese]

  19. Ha KT, Yoon SJ, Choi DY, Kim DW, Kim JK, Kim CH. Protective effect of Lycium chinense fruit on carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatotoxicity. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Jan 15;96(3):529-35. Epub 2004 Dec 8.

  20. Kim SY, et al., “New antihepatotoxic cerebroside from Lycium chinense fruits,” J Nat prod. 1997 Mar;60(3);274-6.

  21. Chin YW, et al., “Hepatoprotective pyrrole derivatives of Lycium chinense fruits,” Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2003 Jan 6;13(1):79-81.

  22. Izzo AA, Di Carlo G, Borrelli F, Ernst E. Cardiovascular pharmacotherapy and herbal medicines: the risk of drug interaction. Int J Cardiol. 2005 Jan;98(1):1-14.

1 Comment

Goji berries sound great

Leave a Comment