Barbary Wolfberry Fruit (Goji Berry)
What is Barbary Wolfberry Fruit (Goji Berry)?
Barbary Wolfberry Fruit (gou qi zi, 枸杞子), also known as Goji Berry or Chinese Wolfberry, is a tiny red fruit that is packed with antioxidants and powerful medicinal properties. Medicinal plants have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for more than 2000 years. With the use of Goji Berry being first recorded around 200 BCE in Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, it is classified as one of the 120 top-grade herbs in this oldest book on Chinese herbs, which was believed to have remarkable health benefits to humans.
With the appearance of a common shrub with delicate, edible leaves and small. Purple flowers, the plant can reach a height of about 2 metres, growing spindle-shaped or ellipsoidal fruits that are about 6-20mm long, and 3-10mm in diameter. Each Goji Berry Fruit contains 20-50 seeds and gives a sweet and fruity taste.
Goji Berry are often dried in the sun before being added to commercial food products, supplements, and TCM. It is frequently added to soups, hot pots, herbal teas, wines along with other TCM ingredients to make herbal dishes.
In TCM, Goji Berry are said to be of a ‘Calm’ or ‘Neutral’ nature, and they come with a ‘sweet’ flavour. This fruit thus falls under the category of ‘Tonic Herbs for Yin Deficiency’. According to TCM theory, this means that Goji Berry target our Liver and Kidney channels to nourish and tonify our Liver and Kidney, improve jing (the essence in our body that keeps us active), and improve our eye functions.
Other than being used as a drug in TCM prescriptions, it is also a popular food that people consume in their daily life for its health benefits.
Functions and Benefits of Barbary Wolfberry Fruit (Goji Berry)
According to TCM, our kidneys regulate our urinary system and play a key role in our reproductive system as well as the growth and ageing process of our body. On the other hand, our Liver regulates the movements of qi and body fluids to balance our emotions. Goji Berry is believed to improve the above functions of our Kidneys and Liver.
Goji Berry are also used when an individual is experiencing Yin Deficiency. The ‘burn-outs’ that more and more people are experiencing today are examples of Yin Deficiency.
Also, sweet herbs like Goji Berry tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. This produces a tonic effect as it replenishes our qi and blood.
Modern research has also linked Goji Berry to several other health benefits. As a great source of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Fiber, Iron, Protein), Wolfberries can reduce inflammation and protect our bodies against chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
As suggested by its long use in TCM to ward off illness and infection, Goji Berry health benefits also include naturally enhancing your immune system. According to a 30-day study in 60 older adults, drinking 4 ounces (120 mL) of goji berry juice per day increased levels of immune cells and improved general feelings of well-being.
Promising research also highlighted the potential benefits that these berries may have on our eye health. Packed with antioxidants such as zeaxanthin, Goji Berry help to protect our lenses and retinas against damage. Also, they may protect our eyes against disorders like macular degeneration, a progressive eye condition that can lead to vision loss.
How to Use Barbary Wolfberry Fruit (Goji Berry)
Individuals can consume Goji Berry raw or add the fruit to their diet to reap its health benefits.
The dried fruit is commonly used in TCM in dosages of 6-15g, taken twice or thrice daily. It can be consumed on its own, it can be used as a decoction in formulas for treating Yin Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation, it can also be used in a mix of Chinese herbs to make pills.
As the health benefits of Goji Berry are quite well-known, they are prevalent in processed foods and beverages too. For example, Goji Berry are widely used in herbal teas that help with weight management, anti-aging and liver protection. Also, Goji Berry are commonly used as a tonic ingredient in soups, porridge, and even hotpot.
Other than using Goji Berry in cooking, individuals can also consume the fruit by drinking Goji berry juice or taking Wolfberries supplements as well.
Cautions and Side Effects of Barbary Wolfberry Fruit (Goji Berry)
While most healthy adults can enjoy moderate consumption of Goji Berry, individuals with allergy to certain fruits need to exercise caution before consuming them. In rare cases, these berries may trigger an allergic reaction.
Also, these berries may interact with other drugs, including blood thinners and medications for diabetes or high blood pressure, to compromise the effects of the medication or even trigger unwanted reactions such as allergic reactions. Hence, if you are taking medications or have underlying health conditions, it is advised to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before consuming Wolfberries or adding them into your diet.
Pregnant and lactating women should also avoid consuming Barbary Wolfberry Fruit, as these fruits contain Betaine, a compound that may be harmful to babies. While further research is required to determine the exact influence of these berries over fetal health, it is highly recommended for pregnant and lactating women to stay away from Wolfberry.
Goji Berry should not be used by individuals with Excess Heat caused by exogenous pathogenic factors, especially if the individual is experiencing Spleen Deficiency.
Here is a summary for Barbary Wolfberry Fruit (Goji Berry):
- Herb name (Chinese): 枸杞子
- Herb name (Pin Yin): gǒu qǐ zǐ
- Herb name (English): Barbary Wolfberry Fruit
- Herb name (Botanical): Fructus Lycii
- Origin of species: Lycium barbarum L.
- Part(s) of herb used: Fruit
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Ningxia, Gansu, Xinjiang
- Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet; Neutral; Administrates the Kidney and Liver meridians
- Actions: Helps to improve functions of liver and kidney to ease anaemic conditions; Eases symptoms of premature ageing, such as eyesight deterioration, dizziness or giddiness, backache and weak knees etc.
Amagase, H., Sun, B., & Nance, D. M. (2009). Immunomodulatory effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum fruit juice in Chinese older healthy human subjects. Journal of medicinal food, 12(5), 1159-1165. [Accessed on 12th September 2022]
Ma, Z. F., Zhang, H., Teh, S. S., Wang, C. W., Zhang, Y., Hayford, F., … & Zhu, Y. (2019). Goji berries as a potential natural antioxidant medicine: An insight into their molecular mechanisms of action. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2019.[Accessed on 12th September 2022]
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