Effects and Benefits of Goji Berry
During my years working in pharmacy and as a clinical exercise specialist, I am always asked about the healing effects or benefits of traditional medicines. The most recent rash of questions are in regards to the Goji Berry (aka the Wolfberry). The claims are wide and varied, however according to studies; some of them may still need further investigation. How do you know which are relevant and which are not? With some research, here are the answers to some of your questions.
What are Goji Berries?
Goji berries, also known as the wolfberry and Lycium Barbarum , is a bright vermilion berry that comes from a rambling shrub with long, flexible branches and clusters of small leaves Originally it was native to China and the Himalayas where it was used for centuries in the hope to increase life span.
Goji berries come raw, cooked, dried, brewed (drank as a herbal tea, wine or juice) and prepared as a medicine.
What are the Benefits of Goji Berries?
Throughout history people have used goji berries in different forms of treatment for health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, fever, liver, kidney ailments and eye problems such as macular degeneration.
More recent studies regarding goji berry juice found newer uses could include a better sense of well being due to its calming effect, improved athletic performance, better sleep patterns, and weight reduction. However keep in mind that these are only preliminary studies and they will need to be repeated and followed before a conclusion can be derived from the findings.
What is already clear are about the nutrients found in Goji Berries. These berries are high in vitamin C (29 to 148 mg/100gm – 32 to 163 % RDI) , are considered a good source of fiber, and low calories (95 Kcal/60gm). They have been proven to be a good source of iron (9mg/100 gm – 100% RDI) and vitamin A (180% of the RDI) . Surprisingly they also provide protein so would be appropriate as a supplemental intake for vegetarians (4g/60gm).One serving of about four ounces of goji berries provides high level of antioxidants, especially zeaxanthin (2.4 – 82.4mg/100gm). Zeaxanthin provides goji berries with their bright color.
Can They Help You Lose Weight?
Goji berries are packed with healthy energy in small servings. They are a super food and provide a high fiber content, which provides a feeling of fullness that can keep you from overeating which will help with reducing weight gain. People looking to reduce body fat should eat light and healthy snacks to prevent overeating at mealtimes. Under these circumstances, you can keep a small amount of Goji berries on hand to curb your hunger or desire to nibble. They are also a source of complex carbohydrates so, while tasting great, Gogi Berries won’t spike your blood sugar. No sugar crashes subsequently. Goji Berries have a high level of B1 (Thiamin) so it has been surmised that they also help with thyroid function which can be a source of weight gain.
Do Goji Berries Have Side Effects?
Goji berries can interact with some medications. People taking warfarin or other blood thinners, should avoid goji berries. Goji berries may also interfere with diabetic or blood pressure drugs. As with all supplements or alternative medicines it is best to talk with your doctor first.
Over time I have always found that for every study you can find supporting any supplements effectiveness there will be just as many studies debunking them. Research anything you choose to put into your “temple”. Keep in mind, that as with all medications and supplements, they do not always work the same for everyone.
Cathie Glennon, BCRPA-SFL, CSNA Sports Nutrition Advisor, Pharm Tech (Level 3)
- Amagase, H., & Nance, D. M. (2008). A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Clinical Study of the General Effects of a Standardized Lycium barbarum (Goji) Juice, GoChi™ [Abstract]. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(4), 403-412. Retrieved from https://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2008.0004
- Bucheli, P., Vidal, K., Shen, L., Gu, Z., Zhang, C., Miller, L. E., & Wang, J. (2011). Goji Berry Effects on Macular Characteristics and Plasma Antioxidant Levels [Abstract]. Optometry and Vision Science, 88(2), 257-262. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21169874
- Du, X., Wang, J., Niu, X., Smith, D., Wu, D., & Meydani, S. N. (2014). Dietary Wolfberry Supplementation Enhances the Protective Effect of Flu Vaccine against Influenza Challenge in Aged Mice [Abstract]. Journal of Nutrition, 144(2), 224-229. Retrieved from https://jn.nutrition.org/content/144/2/224.abstract