Goji Berry Effects

The Chinese wolfberry (Lycium Barbarum or Goji berry) is popular among many people who believe it aids a feeling of well-being and promotes longevity. In traditional Chinese medicine, Goji berries and the bark of the plant are both used to benefit the liver, lung and kidney channels. Goji berries contain beta-carotene and many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, B1 and B2. They're also rich in antioxidants and numerous minerals.

Immune System

Several studies have found that when humans consume Goji berries, their immune systems are bolstered and they are therefore able to more effectively fight off diseases such as cancer. When participants in these studies consumed Goji berries once every day for three weeks, their T-cell function and white-blood cell count were increased. The high levels of polysaccharides in Goji berries are believed to be instrumental in fortifying the immune system.

Eyesight

Improved vision is one of the oldest known effects of Goji berries. For 15 centuries, this use has been reported and documented. The positive effects that Goji has on vision can be attributed to its high concentration of beta carotene, which is in a form that the human body can readily utilize. One of Goji's antioxidants is called zeaxanthin---it protects the retina and might reduce the risk of older people contracting macular degeneration.

Controlling Cholesterol

Goji berries can possibly help fight oxidized cholesterol and high blood pressure, which are two major factors that contribute to heart disease. In China, research has been conducted that suggests Goji berries stimulate an increase in the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which is important in fighting free radicals in the body. Humans produce less of this enzyme as they age, so when Goji berries are added to the diet, it is possible that less cholesterol is oxidized. This is one of the reasons Goji berries are thought to be an anti-aging food.

Side Effects

Goji berries can interact negatively with some prescription medications such as Warfarin and certain medications used to treat diabetes and high blood pressure. People who suffer from allergies might have a reaction if they eat too many Goji berries or drink too much of the juice.

Keywords: Goji berry, Chinese wolfberry, medicinal plants

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.