Goji berries, also known as wolfberries or lycium fruit, are a member of the nightshade family which contains many other common vegetables such as tomato, eggplant and pepper. They are considered to be among the most nutritionally dense fruits on earth, so it’s no surprise that they have gained a huge popularity over the past few years.
Goji berries have been used for thousands of years in Tibet and China as an important part of traditional medicine and medical diets.
Health boosting properties
In the last decades, a large number of lab and animal studies have been conducted with goji berries. From these studies we know that a number of natural components isolated from goji berries have multiple pharmacological properties, including antioxidant, anti-aging, immune boosting and anticancer activity. Also they are known to have blood pressure lowering effects, to help in body fat reduction and to protect hepatic function (1,2).
Goji berries score among the highest for their antioxidant activity compared to other fruits and vegetables (3).
Basic Nutrition Facts
¼ cup of goji berries (30 gr.) gives you around 90 calories and 4-5 gr of protein which is surprisingly high for a fruit.
The two major active ingredients in goji berries, LBP and AA-2βG, a vitamin C analogue, were found in studies to lead cancer cells to death and to enhance the effects of other cancer therapies (4).
Goji berries were shown to have synergistic actions with chemotherapy and radiation and to reduce their side effects (5). Animal studies which have shown that LBP from goji berries enhanced the effects of radiation to acute cells of lung cancer (6). Also in another animal study, goji berries were found to reduce cardiotoxicity associated with the chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin (7).
Ways to enjoy your berries
People eat goji berries raw, dried, or dried soaked first in water. Be creative in finding your favorite ways for enjoying goji berries. Add them in salads, smoothies, trail mixes, on top of your muesli or other cereals, yogurt etc.
Avoid goji berries if you are taking anti-coagulant medication
People taking anticoagulant therapy such as warfarin should avoid regular use and high doses of goji berries or goji juice. A few cases of elevated INR in patients on anticoagulant therapy were reported following consumption of concentrated Chinese herbal tea made from goji berries.
Zhiping Zhang, Xiaoming Liu, Tao Wu, et al. Selective suppression of cervical cancer Hela cells by 2-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-l-ascorbic acid isolated from the fruit of Lycium barbarum L. Cell Biology and Toxicology. 2011, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 107-121
Barrie R. Cassileth, MS, PhD, Lycium (Lycium barbarum). Oncology. Deccember 2010, Integrative Oncology, Oncology Journal (accessed: http://www.cancernetwork.com/integrative-oncology/lycium-lycium-barbarum)
Amagase H, Sun B, Borek C. Lycium barbarum (goji) juice improves in vivo antioxidant biomarkers in serum of healthy adults. Nutr Res. 2009;29:19-25. - See more at: http://www.rheumatologynetwork.com/integrative-oncology/lycium-lycium-barbarum#sthash.N8aw732q.dpuf
Tang, Wai-Man, et al. "A review of the anticancer and immunomodulatory effects of Lycium barbarum fruit." Inflammopharmacology 20.6 (2012): 307-314.
Zhu Y (1998) Chinese Materia Medica Chemistry, Pharmacology and Applications. Harwood Academic Publishers, Amsterdam
Lu, C. X., and B. Q. Cheng. "[Radiosensitizing effects of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide for Lewis lung cancer]." Zhong xi yi jie he za zhi= Chinese journal of modern developments in traditional medicine/Zhongguo Zhong xi yi jie he yan jiu hui (chou), Zhong yi yan jiu yuan, zhu ban 11.10 (1991): 611-2.
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;16:428-31. – (accessed by : ref.30 – Barrie R. Cassileth)