Mother Earth Living

Fresh Clips: What Are Goji Berries?

By Steven Foster
December/January 2010
Add to My MSN

Dried goji fruits are marketed as a high-antioxidant alternative to raisins. A 2009 study indicates the juice is beneficial.
Photo by Steven Foster
Slideshow


Content Tools

Related Content

Review: Health-Food Bars for Dancers, by Barre

These three health-food bars by Barre comprise of nutritious (and delicious) superfoods. Made with t...

In the News: Hawthorn Extract For Heart Disease

A recent scientific reviews finds that hawthorn may be useful in treating a variety of mild heart ai...

Product Review: EasyBloom

For some, the cold winter months may bring many ‘a’ merry moment. But for the sympathetic gardener, ...

Discovering Ancient Grains: What is Kamut?

Ever wondered: what is kamut? Learn the history of this ancient grain, and put it to good use with t...

In natural food stores, you will find goji berries in profusion—goji juice, goji-laced chocolate bars, whole dried goji berries ready to replace your raisins. Before the explosion of marketing hype, the goji berry was better known as Chinese wolfberry, Chinese boxthorn or Chinese matrimony vine. The name “goji” was never used for the plant or its fruit until it was popularized in the American market in the past decade. “Goji” is a phonetic twist on the Chinese name for the fruits: gou qi zi.

The fruits were not commonly called “berries,” either. In Herbs of Commerce (American Herbal Products Association, 2000)—a book that lists more than 1,600 herbs found in the American market with their scientific names, common name synonyms and “standard common name”—Lycium barbarum and L. chinense are both listed under the standard common name lycium. This work has been adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the source for standard common names for use in the herb trade. However, successful marketing has made the fanciful name “goji” stick in the American marketplace.

Where Goji Grows

The dried fruits proliferating in the market are either from Lycium chinense or L. barbarum. L. chinense has wide distribution in East Asia, and L. barbarum is found primarily in the central Chinese province of Ningxia. Both species are widely naturalized outside of China.

L. chinense is found in at least 15 states east of the Mississippi and five states west of the Mississippi. It grows as a weed at the edge of my yard, and perhaps yours as well. L. barbarum is found in almost the entire continental United States and half of Canada.

The Goji Hype

Most studies on goji fruit and its health benefits are from foreign countries. Some clinical studies have been published. One published earlier this year looked at the antioxidant effect in 50 healthy Chinese volunteers in a double-blind placebo-controlled study by measuring antioxidant markers in the blood. The volunteers received about four ounces of goji berry juice a day for 30 days. After 30 days, the blood was measured for antioxidant indicators, and the authors suggested that continued use for beyond 30 days could help produce an antioxidant effect by reducing conditions related to the proliferation of free radicals. (A four-ounce glass of red wine daily at about the same price will produce similar benefits.)

This follows the first double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects of “goji berry standardized juice” conducted outside of China. The treatment group (16 individuals) received about four ounces of juice a day for 14 days. The placebo group had 18 volunteers. Volunteers were examined by subjective self-questionnaires, along with measures of body weight, body mass index, blood pressure, pulse rate and visual acuity (before and after treatment).

The authors concluded that there were significant differences for the treatment group compared with the placebo group, including increased ratings for energy level, athletic performance, sleep quality, ability to focus, mental acuity, calmness, and feelings of “health, contentment, and happiness.” In addition, the treatment group had improved “regularity of gastrointestinal function” and reduced stress and fatigue.

It’s always good to have some scientific research to shore up the marketing hype, don’t you think?

Did You Know?

Goji berries are common throughout eastern Asia and the Middle East, where barrels of the inexpensive dried fruits are staples in every market.


Amagase, H., Sun, B., Borek, C. “Lycium barbarum (goji) juice improves in vivo antioxidant biomarkers in serum of healthy adults.” Nutrition Research 29(1):19-25, 2009.

Amagase, H, Nance D.M. “A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum (Goji) Juice.”, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 14(4):403-12, 2008. 

Steven Foster is an expert on medicinal plants. 


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.