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Goji Berry

Uses

Common names:
Chinese Boxthorn, Goji, Gou Qi Zi, Wolfberry
Botanical names:
Lycium barbarum, Lycium chinense

Parts Used & Where Grown

Goji berries are the fruit of a shrub native to China.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
1 Star
Macular Degeneration
Refer to label instructions
As a rich source of zeaxanthin, goji berries may be beneficial.

Goji berries are also a rich source of zeaxanthin, a carotenoid that when consumed becomes concentrated in the macular pigment of the eye and may help protect the retina.4 , 5 Both human and monkey studies have shown that consuming goji berries or extracts high in zeaxanthin raises blood levels of zeaxanthin,6 , 7 , 8 , 9 but only animal research has verified that goji berry consumption increases macular pigment, and no research has looked at whether goji berries provide protection from diseases of the retina.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Goji berry use has been described in traditional Chinese medicine since the first century A.D. They are often combined with other herbs as a tonic to increase longevity.1 Other uses attributed to goji berries include enhancing immune function, improving circulation and eyesight, protecting the liver, and increasing sperm production.2 , 3

How It Works

Common names:
Chinese Boxthorn, Goji, Gou Qi Zi, Wolfberry
Botanical names:
Lycium barbarum, Lycium chinense

How It Works

Goji berries contain several nutrients as well as substances with potential biological effects.10 Polysaccharides make up a large percentage of the pulp, and when these polysaccharides were given to animals orally or directly into the stomach, they improved antioxidant status;11 , 12 lowered blood levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and cholesterol;13 , 14 , 15 protected DNA;16 , 17 slowed the growth and spread of cancer cells;18 , 19 enhanced immune function;20 , 21 , 22 prevented fatigue during exercise;23 and improved sexual performance and fertility in partially castrated animals.24 However, very large amounts of purified goji berry polysaccharides were given to these animals, and no human research has been published investigating these effects, so whether people using goji berries or their juice in reasonable amounts would experience similar benefits is unknown.

Goji berries are also a rich source of zeaxanthin, a carotenoid that when consumed becomes concentrated in the macular pigment of the eye and may help protect the retina.25 , 26 Both human and monkey studies have shown that consuming goji berries or extracts high in zeaxanthin raises blood levels of zeaxanthin,27 , 28 , 29 , 30 but only animal research has verified that goji berry consumption increases macular pigment, and no research has looked at whether goji berries provide protection from diseases of the retina.

Other animal research has found that zeaxanthin extracts of goji berry and purified goji berry polysaccharides can each protect against liver damage.31 , 32

How to Use It

Traditional Chinese medicine recommends boiling 5 to 15 grams of the dried berry to make a tea and drinking at least half a cup per day. Eating about 15 grams of whole goji berries is known to raise blood levels of zeaxanthin.33 No reliable information is available to establish a recommended amount of goji juice.

Interactions

Common names:
Chinese Boxthorn, Goji, Gou Qi Zi, Wolfberry
Botanical names:
Lycium barbarum, Lycium chinense

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • none

Reduce Side Effects

  • none

Support Medicine

  • none

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • Warfarin

    There is one reported case of increased bleeding tendency in a woman taking warfarin who also drank 3 to 4 glasses per day of goji berry tea.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Explanation Required

  • none

The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Common names:
Chinese Boxthorn, Goji, Gou Qi Zi, Wolfberry
Botanical names:
Lycium barbarum, Lycium chinense

Side Effects

There is one reported case of increased bleeding tendency in a woman taking the anticoagulant warfarin who also drank 3 to 4 glasses per day of goji berry tea.34 No other reports of bleeding problems or other adverse effects in people using goji berry products have been published.

References

1. Chevallier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. 2nd ed. New York, NY: DK Publ, Inc., 2000.

2. Lycium. PDR Health, www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/herbaldrugs/101780.shtml, accessed August 7, 2007.

3. Chinese Herbal Medicine Company. Chinese Traditional Formulation of Herbal Medicine. Shanghai: Scientific Publication, 1994:1598–608.

4. Peng Y, Ma C, Li Y, et al. Quantification of zeaxanthin dipalmitate and total carotenoids in lycium fruits (Fructus Lycii). Plant Foods Hum Nutr 2005;60:161–4.

5. Zhou L, Leung I, Tso MO, Lam KW. The identification of dipalmityl zeaxanthin as the major carotenoid in Gou Qi Zi by high pressure liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther 1999;15:557–65.

6. Khachik F, Beecher GR, Smith JC Jr. Lutein, lycopene, and their oxidative metabolites in chemoprevention of cancer. J Cell Biochem Suppl 1995;22:236–46.

7. Cheng CY, Chung WY, Szeto YT, Benzie IF. Fasting plasma zeaxanthin response to Fructus barbarum L. (wolfberry; Kei Tze) in a food-based human supplementation trial. Br J Nutr 2005;93:123–30.

8. Benzie IF, Chung WY, Wang J, et al. Enhanced bioavailability of zeaxanthin in a milk-based formulation of wolfberry (Gou Qi Zi; Fructus barbarum L.). Br J Nutr 2006;96:154–60.

9. Leung I, Tso M, Li W, Lam T. Absorption and tissue distribution of zeaxanthin and lutein in rhesus monkeys after taking Fructus lycii (Gou Qi Zi) extract. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2001;42:466–71.

10. Duke JA. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. Boca Raton, FL. CRC Press, 1992.

11. Li XM, Ma YL, Liu XJ. Effect of the Lycium barbarum polysaccharides on age-related oxidative stress in aged mice. J Ethnopharmacol 2007;111:504–11.

12. Li XM. Protective effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides on streptozotocin-induced oxidative stress in rats. Int J Biol Macromol 2007;40:461–5.

13. Wu H, Guo H, Zhao R. Effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on the improvement of antioxidant ability and DNA damage in NIDDM rats. Yakugaku Zasshi 2006;126:365–71.

14. Zhao R, Li Q, Xiao B. Effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on the improvement of insulin resistance in NIDDM rats. Yakugaku Zasshi 2005;125:981–8.

15. Luo Q, Cai Y, Yan J, et al. Hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects and antioxidant activity of fruit extracts from Lycium barbarum. Life Sci 2004;76:137–49.

16. Huang X, Yang M, Wu X, Yan J. Study on protective action of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides on DNA imparments of testicle cells in mice. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu 2003;32:599–601 [in Chinese].

17. Wu H, Guo H, Zhao R. Effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on the improvement of antioxidant ability and DNA damage in NIDDM rats. Yakugaku Zasshi 2006;126:365–71.

18. Gan L, Wang J, Zhang S. Inhibition the growth of human leukemia cells by Lycium barbarum polysaccharide. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu 2001;30:333–5 [in Chinese].

19. Zhang M, Chen H, Huang J, et al. Effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on human hepatoma QGY7703 cells: inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis. Life Sci 2005;76:2115–24.

20. Luo Q, Yan J, Zhang S. Effects of pure and crude Lycium barbarum polysaccharides on immunopharmacology. Zhong Yao Cai 1999;22:246–9 [in Chinese].

21. Gan L, Hua Zhang S, Liang Yang X, Bi Xu H. Immunomodulation and antitumor activity by a polysaccharide-protein complex from Lycium barbarum. Int Immunopharmacol 2004;4:563–9.

22. He YL, Ying Y, Xu YL, et al. Effects of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on tumor microenvironment T-lymphocyte subsets and dendritic cells in H22-bearing mice. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao 2005;3:374–7 [in Chinese].

23. Luo Q, Yan J, Zhang S. Isolation and purification of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides and its antifatigue effect. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu 2000;29:115–7 [in Chinese].

24. Luo Q, Li Z, Huang X, Yan J, et al. Lycium barbarum polysaccharides: Protective effects against heat-induced damage of rat testes and H2O2-induced DNA damage in mouse testicular cells and beneficial effect on sexual behavior and reproductive function of hemicastrated rats. Life Sci 2006;79:613–21.

25. Peng Y, Ma C, Li Y, et al. Quantification of zeaxanthin dipalmitate and total carotenoids in lycium fruits (Fructus Lycii). Plant Foods Hum Nutr 2005;60:161–4.

26. Zhou L, Leung I, Tso MO, Lam KW. The identification of dipalmityl zeaxanthin as the major carotenoid in Gou Qi Zi by high pressure liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther 1999;15:557–65.

27. Khachik F, Beecher GR, Smith JC Jr. Lutein, lycopene, and their oxidative metabolites in chemoprevention of cancer. J Cell Biochem Suppl 1995;22:236–46.

28. Cheng CY, Chung WY, Szeto YT, Benzie IF. Fasting plasma zeaxanthin response to Fructus barbarum L. (wolfberry; Kei Tze) in a food-based human supplementation trial. Br J Nutr 2005;93:123–30.

29. Benzie IF, Chung WY, Wang J, et al. Enhanced bioavailability of zeaxanthin in a milk-based formulation of wolfberry (Gou Qi Zi; Fructus barbarum L.). Br J Nutr 2006;96:154–60.

30. Leung I, Tso M, Li W, Lam T. Absorption and tissue distribution of zeaxanthin and lutein in rhesus monkeys after taking Fructus lycii (Gou Qi Zi) extract. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2001;42:466–71.

31. Kim HP, Lee EJ, Kim YC, et al. Zeaxanthin dipalmitate from lycium Chinense fruit reduces experimentally induced hepatic fibrosis in rats. Biol Pharm Bull 2002;25:390–2.

32. Gu S, Wang PL, Jiang R. A study on the preventive effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on the development of alcoholic fatty liver in rats and its possible mechanisms. Zhonghua Gan Zang Bing Za Zhi 2007;15:204–8 [in Chinese].

33. Cheng CY, Chung WY, Szeto YT, Benzie IF. Fasting plasma zeaxanthin response to Fructus barbarum L. (wolfberry; Kei Tze) in a food-based human supplementation trial. Br J Nutr 2005;93:123–30.

34. Lam AY, Elmer GW, Mohutsky MA. Possible interaction between warfarin and Lycium barbarum L. Ann Pharmacother 2001;35:1199–201.

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