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
- poor memory
- frequent urination at night
- 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 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.
2019 Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
The health benefits of goji berries include enhancing hemopoiesis, antiradiation, antiaging, anticancer, improvement of immunity, and antioxidation.
Goji berries are a high antioxidant potential fruits which alleviate oxidative stress to confer many health protective benefits such as preventing free radicals from damaging DNA, lipids, and proteins. There is a better protection through synergistic and additive effects in fruits and herbal products from a complex mixture of phytochemicals than from a single phytochemical. The health benefits of goji berries include enhancing hemopoiesis, antiradiation, antiaging, anticancer, improvement of immunity, and antioxidation.
Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action 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,
2019 BioMed Research International
Results from existing studies suggest that goji berry polysaccharide is a promising therapeutic agent, particularly in the management of liver disease, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes.
Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBPs) have a number of promising therapeutic uses in the liver disease, metabolic disorders, immune dysfunction, aging, neuroprotection, cancer, and ocular surface diseases. These potential applications should be thoroughly assessed through further in vivo studies and ultimately in well-designed randomized controlled clinical trials. One major limitation of current research is a lack of standardization and quality control for the LBP used. The availability of research-grade LBP, of consistent concentration, will help promote further interest and robust research work in this field.
A Systematic Review of Potential Therapeutic Use of Lycium Barbarum Polysaccharides in Disease Kwok SS, Bu Y, Lo AC, Chan TC, So KF, Lai JS, Shih KC.
2015 Journal of Functional Foods
Goji berry was identified as a rich source of antioxidant compounds, with health-promoting properties comparable with other common fruit species.
A number of things lead to the confusion between the different species and genotypes of cultivated Lycium. In this study, wolfberry was identified as a rich source of antioxidant compounds; the observed analytical fingerprint demonstrated that the species represents a rich source of organic acids and polyphenolic compounds, especially cinnamic acids and catechins; this research suggested that identified nutraceuticals might contribute to the total phytocomplex of these fruits. This study developed an important tool to assess goji chemical composition and bioactivity, using different chromatographic methods for comprehensive authentication and quality control of its fruits: well-designed clinical trials with phytochemically well-characterized extracts are required before the potential of goji as a medicinal plant or food can be definitively assessed. Goji berry fruit is devoid of toxicity but caution is advised with regard to possible drug interactions as well as with products of unknown or dubious origin; for this reason, the development of rigorous quality control protocols for goji products is urgently needed: this research showed that analytical fingerprinting could be an important tool to assess quality, chemical composition, and bioactivity of wolfberry fruits, helping to find new sources of natural health-promoting compounds.
Goji berry fruit (Lycium spp.): antioxidant compound fingerprint and bioactivity evaluation D. Donno, G.L. Beccaro, M.G. Mellano, A.K. Cerutti, G. Bounous
2014 Drug Design, Development and Therapy
A mixture of active polysaccharides from Goji berries have shown multiple pharmacological activities, including anti-aging, antioxidative, anti-fatigue, anticancer, anti-diabetic, anti-viral, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, hypolipidemic, radioprotective, anti-osteoporosis, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulating effects.
The mechanisms for these beneficial effects are multifaceted, involving a number of signaling molecules and pathways. A better understanding of how LBPs act on these signaling pathways and molecules can improve our knowledge on glycobiology. Further studies using systems pharmacology approaches such as proteomic and metabolomic analysis are needed to uncover the molecular target networks of LBPs.
Despite the importance of Goji in the traditional Chinese medicine and increased popularity in Western countries, clinical safety data on LBPs are sparse. A safe and optimal use of herbal medicines like LBPs requires a full understanding of their pharmacokinetics, side effects, and mechanisms of action. The doseâ€“response and doseâ€“toxicity relationships of LBPs should be established in animal and human studies. It is essential to develop new formulations to ensure the maximum efficacy and effectiveness and minimum side effects of LBP-related health products.
An evidence-based update on the pharmacological activities and possible molecular targets of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides Cheng J, Zhou Z, Sheng H, He L, Fan X, He Z, Sun T, Zhang X, Zhao RJ, Gu L, Cao C, Zhou S
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.
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
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
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
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 ÃŸ-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 ÃŸ-amyloid peptide, glutamate excitotoxicity, ischemic/reperfusion, and other neurotoxic insults. LBPs ameliorate the symptoms of mice with Alzheimerâ€™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 doseâ€“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
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?
Ping Ming Health
Thanks for your question Harry. There are reports that goji berries can interact with warfarin (a blood thinning medication) to cause increased likelihood of bleeding. The root bark of the goji berry tree (Di Gu Pi) is also known to have a blood pressure lowering effect and could potentially interact with blood pressure lowering medications. If you are unsure, please consume small amounts of goji berries at a time and report any symptoms to your GP if you are on any of these medications.