Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are fruits that are native to China. The fruits are consumed in many forms in Asia, and are used to treat a variety of maladies and slow aging. Goji berries are high in certain valuable nutrients, but some experts are skeptical of their medicinal power.
Like many other berries, goji berries contain a high concentration of antioxidants. They are also rich in vitamin A. Both of these nutritional benefits should be part of a well-rounded, nutritious diet.
Claims of the health benefits of goji berries vary widely, depending on who you ask. Antioxidants are known to curtail the activities of free radicals in the body, which can keep you from getting sick. Additionally, vitamin A boosts the immune system and eyesight. In China, goji berries are eaten because they are believed to have anti-aging properties and cure a variety of common health problems including diabetes, fever and high blood pressure. Some who eat goji berries do so because they believe the antioxidants aid in cancer prevention.
Mayo Clinic medical oncologist Timothy Moynihan says that though goji berries (specifically, goji juice) are a very rich source of vitamins and antioxidants, they have not been proven to have special medicinal properties. Moynihan says there have been "no human trials to support the idea that goji juice can treat or prevent any specific diseases." He states that people who enjoy goji should consume them for their nutritional benefits, but they should also keep an eye on results of future clinical trials before using them for disease prevention.
Goji berries are available in several forms, including fresh, dried, teas, juices and supplements. Because the berries have not been researched thoroughly, experts aren't sure how they compare to more common types of berries. Additionally, scientists don't know if the supplements have the same nutritional benefits as the actual berries and other berry-based products.
Medical oncologist Timothy Moynihan of the Mayo Clinic says that some doctors are concerned that goji berries could negatively interact with some medications, such as drugs used to treat diabetes. Additionally, early research suggests goji berries and products containing goji berries may affect the function of some blood pressure medications as well as warfarin, a type of blood thinner. Those with severe pollen allergies could also have a reaction to the fruit.