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Goji (Lycium spp.)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Arabinogalactan proteins, ascorbic acid, atropine, Barbary wolfberry, betaine, beta-sitosterol, boxthorn, carotenoids, Chinese boxthorn, Chinese matrimony vine, Chinese wolfberry, cortex Lycii radicis, Di Gu Pi, Digupi, dried wolfberries, fructus Lycii, fructus Lycii berry, fructus Lycium barbarum L., GoChi™, goji berry, goji juice, gou qi (Chinese), gou qi zi (Chinese), gouqi (Chinese), gouqizi (Chinese), Kei Tze, L. exsertum, L. fremontii, Lacto-Wolfberry, lutein, Lycii berries, Lyciichinensis, Lycii fructus, Lycii fruit, Lycium, Lycium barbarum, Lycium barbarum L., Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBP), Lycium californicum, Lycium chilense, Lycium chinense, Lycium chinense Miller, Lycium europeaum, Lycium halimifolium Mill., Lyciumnodosum, Lycium parishii, Lycium ruthenicum, Lyciumshawii, Lycium vulgare Dunal, matrimony vine, Ning Xia Gou Qi (Chinese), polysaccharides, scopoletin, Solanaceae (family), Tibetan goji berry, vitamin C, wolfberry, wolfberry fruit, zeaxanthin.
  • Select combination products: Runmushu oral liquid (rehmannia root, figwort, lilyturf root, dendrobium stem, wolfberry fruit, chrysanthemum, and sticktight).

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • According to secondary sources, the origins of goji berries (Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense) are lost in antiquity. They have been consumed as a food and as medicine in Asia for at least 2,000 years (1;2). The common name, "wolfberry," is often used in the scientific literature. There is some controversy as to whether goji is indeed synonymous with wolfberry, and most experts agree that they are similar, but not identical, because they are grown in different parts of Asia. However, the health-food industry has adopted the name "goji," which is a simplified pronunciation of the Mandarin name gouqi.
  • The leaves, roots, and root bark of Lycium species have also been used medicinally. Traditionally, goji berries have been used to support the kidneys and the liver, to protect the eyes, to enhance the immune system, and to treat male infertility, as well as an antiaging tonic (2;3;4;5). Goji berries are nutrient rich and contain significant quantities of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which provides a logical rationale for their antiaging and visual protection applications (6;7;8;9;10;11). A valid topic for further investigation is the potential of goji berry consumption to prevent macular degeneration.
  • Although adequate human clinical data on the efficacy of goji berry preparations are lacking, there is a significant and growing body of in vitro and animal research. A significant portion of this research focuses on the physiological effects of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBP). Various polysaccharide components extracted from goji berries have already demonstrated anticancer, antidiabetes, antihypertensive, anti-infertility, antimyelosuppressive, antioxidant, hypolipidemic, immune-stimulating, and radiosensitizing properties (12;13;14;15;16;17;18;19;20;21;22;23;24;25). Therefore, investigations utilizing Lycium polysaccharides should be a fruitful area for clinical research.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.