by Dr. Amy Wiesner
Probably everyone has at least heard about the goji berry. They are popular in health food stores and are used in packaged baked goods.
So what is about them that makes them so great?
To begin with, they have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years, which indicates a profound amount of research! The botanical name for the goji berry is Lycium barbarum, which is the reason it is also called lycium fruit in TCM. Also referred to as wolfberry fruit, it is the berry of a deciduous woody perennial plant that makes up the largest crop in China. They are also grown in Tibet near the Himalayas. Unfortunately, they also use a lot of pesticides, so it’s important to be careful of which brands you buy.
The berries are collected and sun-dried and you can eat them like raisins or add them to any type of recipe. They can also be added to tea or be included in a smoothie.
In TCM, goji berries have been historically used for nourishing the liver and kidneys. In TCM, the kidneys are associated with aging and gojis are commonly used to treat symptoms associated with aging. This makes some sense in western medicine because goji berries have been found to have an extremely high ORAC content, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. That means that it can offset the negative effects of free radicals on the body that are associated with aging and illness.
From western medical research, goji berries have been shown to have many nutrients and phytochemicals. These include vitamins A, B and C, essential fatty acids including linoleic acid, carotene, zeaxanthin and beta-sitosterol. They also contain polysaccharides and amino acids.
It’s used in western medicine to treat many common symptoms of aging and the general effects of unhealthy lifestyle habits. This includes vision health, diabetes and atherosclerosis. Another study showed that it improved both the mind and the body--gastrointestinal and neurological health as well as a happier outlook was shown to be induced by eating 120 ml of goji berries daily after only 14 days. The antioxidant properties of goji berries may also prove to be anti-cancerous, though there is not enough research on this as of yet.
Overall, by adding organic goji berries to your diet, you are getting not only something extremely nutritions and healthy, but something delicious as well.
Image courtesy of gojiberryzone.com.