Goji berries and their anti-aging effects

Goji berries and their anti-aging effects

There is a story about goji berries and health dating back to ancient times. Once there lived a very healthy, old man. When people asked him why he was so healthy and looked younger than his years, he replied: “I eat like other people, except for the fact that I often eat goji berries, as I have a goji tree in my backyard.”

Later on, Chinese physicians discovered the health benefits of goji berries. According to Chinese medicine, goji berries tonify the Kidneys, balance the body, and have anti-aging properties. This is why the old man was much healthier and looked younger than his age. In China, goji berries are often bought for their older friends or family as a gift, due to their amazing anti-aging properties.

In the traditional Chinese herbal medicine texts, the goji berry is a very important herb. Chinese medicine practitioners often use this herb in Chinese herbal medicine formulas to balance and strengthen the body.

As well as being extremely beneficial for our health, goji berries are sweet, delicious to eat, and not as expensive as other nutritional supplements. This is why goji berries are very popular and have been consumed for thousands of years.

Goji berries are usually bought as a dried fruit and are available at most supermarkets, health food shops, Chinese herbal shops and Chinese markets. They can be eaten as they are or added to many dishes.

Health benefits of goji berries

The following health benefits are based on traditional knowledge of Chinese medicine. Scientific studies are beginning to understand the health benefits of goji berries include enhancing hemopoiesis, antiradiation, antiaging, anticancer, improvement of immunity, and antioxidation (Ma et al., 2019).

Strengthens the Kidneys and has anti-aging effects

Chinese medicine believes that Kidney Essence and strong Kidneys help delay the ageing process. Therefore, anyone who ages quickly may have Kidney deficiency or weakness.

Chinese medicine recognises the following Kidney Deficiency symptoms:

  • aching lower back
  • weak and painful knees and legs
  • tinnitis (ringing in the ears)
  • lowered libido
  • impotence
  • poor memory
  • frequent urination at night
  • lethargy
  • early onset of menopause
  • early greying of hair

Goji berries are one of the herbs often used in Kidney tonifying Chinese herbal medicines. If you wish to age slowly, make goji berries a part of your regular diet. We have included a few recipes below to get you started.

Benefits the eyes

Goji berries also act on the Liver organ system in Chinese medicine. Generally, the Liver is associated with the eyes to support their function.

Chinese medicine recognises the following eye symptoms to be associated with Liver Deficiency syndrome:

  • dry eyes
  • tired eyes
  • blurry vision
  • pain and burning sensation around the eye.

Drinking goji berry and chrysanthemum tea regularly can benefit the eyes and support you whilst undergoing any treatment for the above symptoms. Please see the recipe below.

Aids tight joints

The health benefits of goji berries also extend to your bones and tendons. Eating them regularly may reduce or prevent tightness in the joints, and assist with joint pain and weak knees.

Chinese medicine considers tendons and joints are associated with the Liver and Kidneys. Because goji berries are beneficial for the Liver and Kidneys, they may be able to benefit conditions of the joints, tendons and bones.

Many pharmacological functions related to the eyes, kidney, and liver particularly have been promoted by the consumption of goji berry in populations (Cheng et al, 2014).

Other health effects

Modern medical science has discovered other health benefits of goji berries. They help reduce blood sugar and can aid regeneration of liver cells and reduce cholesterol in the liver. Goji berries are therefore beneficial for those with diabetes, liver disorders, and high cholesterol. Eating goji berries regularly can also help build up the immune system.

Goji berry recipes

Goji berry porridge

This is a very delicious and easy breakfast, and is suitable for those with kidney deficiency.

After cooking your porridge, simply add 1 tbsp of goji berries and stir. It is now ready to eat.

Effects: anti-aging; increases energy and improves the immune system.

Goji berry and chrysanthemum tea

1 tbsp of goji berries
7 chrysanthemum flowers
2 cups of boiling water

Mix all ingredients and let brew for 5 minutes. The tea is now ready. Make sure you drink it slowly.

Effects: benefits the eyes; prevent or reduce symptoms of eye disorders.

Beef bone soup with goji berries

500g beef bones with meat
2 tbsp goji berries
10 cups of water

Boil the bones. Clear the scum from the top of the soup and simmer for at least 3 hours on a low heat. When the soup is ready to eat, simply add goji berries. You can add any vegetable to this soup.

Effects: Loosens and smooths joints.

Enjoying these recipes two or three times a week will help improve your condition.

Precautions

Goji berries are a tonifying food. Chinese medicine suggests to avoid eating goji berries when you are experiencing an infection, cold or flu, or diarrhoea.

If you are unsure of whether goji berries are suitable for you, please ask your experienced Chinese medicine practitioner.

Food as medicine (A disclaimer)

Our “food as medicine” articles share knowledge about health foods in the context of traditional Chinese medicine diet therapy and practices often dating back thousands of years. We also support this knowledge with references to published scientific research. Please keep in mind that scientific research into the health benefits of foods is still emerging and human research is limited.

Consuming a wide variety of natural foods as part of a balanced diet is most beneficial for health, however, we don’t advise using food alone to treat diseases. Please consult with your doctor or health professional about which foods are suitable for your body or health issues.

What Does The Research Say?

The following insights are obtained from scientific studies, systematic reviews and analysis of clinical trials investigating the efficacy of Goji Berries.

Scientific References

Browse our collection of scientific research on Goji Berries. It includes recent and reputable papers published by peer-reviewed journals within the last 10 years.

BioMed Research International

2019, Feb 12

A Systematic Review of Potential Therapeutic Use of Lycium Barbarum Polysaccharides in Disease
BioMed Research International

The systematic review has highlighted the high efficacy of therapeutic effects found in goji berries. The studies have included high metabolic effects, anti-aging, hepatic, anti-cancer and neuroprotective.

Kwok SS, Bu Y, Lo AC, Chan TC, So KF, Lai JS, Shih KC. Full Article

Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity

2019, Jan 9

Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action
Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity

The review highlighted the high antioxidant effects of goji berries. The article further indicates how the anti-oxidative effects help to confer many health protective benefits such as preventing free radicals from damaging DNA, lipids, and proteins.

Zheng Feei Ma, Hongxia Zhang, Sue Siang Teh, Chee Woon Wang, Yutong Zhang, Frank Hayford, Liuyi Wang, Tong Ma, Zihan Dong, Yan Zhang, Yifan Zhu, Full Article

Journal of Functional Foods

2015, Sep

Goji berry fruit (Lycium spp.): antioxidant compound fingerprint and bioactivity evaluation
Journal of Functional Foods

The systematic review indicated the high quality of antioxidant effects in goji berries which acts as a functional food. Further analytical methods have also considered its benefits as nutraceutical traits. Therefore, suggesting it to be a good source of antioxidant compound.

D. Donno, G.L. Beccaro, M.G. Mellano, A.K. Cerutti, G. Bounous Full Article

Drug Design, Development and Therapy

2014, Dec 17

An evidence-based update on the pharmacological activities and possible molecular targets of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides
Drug Design, Development and Therapy

Several clinical studies in healthy subjects show that consumption of wolfberry juice improves general wellbeing and immune functions. L. barbarum polysaccharides (LBP) are reported to have antioxidative and antiaging properties in different models. LBPs show antitumor activities against various types of cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth in nude mice through induction of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest. LBPs may potentiate the efficacy of lymphokine activated killer/interleukin-2 combination therapy in cancer patients. LBPs exhibit significant hypoglycemic effects and insulin-sensitizing activity by increasing glucose metabolism and insulin secretion and promoting pancreatic ß-cell proliferation. They protect retinal ganglion cells in experimental models of glaucoma. LBPs protect the liver from injuries due to exposure to toxic chemicals or other insults. They also show potent immuno-enhancing activities in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, LBPs protect against neuronal injury and loss induced by ß-amyloid peptide, glutamate excitotoxicity, ischemic/reperfusion, and other neurotoxic insults. LBPs ameliorate the symptoms of mice with Alzheimer’s disease and enhance neurogenesis in the hippocampus and subventricular zone, improving learning and memory abilities. They reduce irradiation- or chemotherapy-induced organ toxicities. LBPs are beneficial to male reproduction by increasing the quality, quantity, and motility of sperm, improving sexual performance, and protecting the testis against toxic insults. Moreover, LBPs exhibit hypolipidemic, cardioprotective, antiviral, and antiinflammatory activities. There is increasing evidence from preclinical and clinical studies supporting the therapeutic and health-promoting effects of LBPs, but further mechanistic and clinical studies are warranted to establish the dose–response relationships and safety profiles of LBPs.

Cheng J, Zhou Z, Sheng H, He L, Fan X, He Z, Sun T, Zhang X, Zhao RJ, Gu L, Cao C, Zhou S Full Article

WRITTEN BY:

Dr Ping Wang is the clinic founder and senior practitioner of Ping Ming Health. She has over 30 years of experience in traditional Chinese medicine teaching and practice. Dr Ping especially enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chinese medicine through our popular clinic articles, seminars and clinical training of students and practitioners.

  • Harry Hartawan
    REPLY

    I once read a physician’s website saying to avoid eating goji berries if taking blood thinning or blood pressure lowering medications as these berries may interact with these medications. Is it correct?

    22 July, 2013

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