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Goji Berries from the Himalayan Mountain Regions of Tibet and Mongolia
A Potent Source of Antioxidants and Omega Fatty Acids
©2006 All rights reserved.
Himalayan Goji Berries
One of the Super Healthy Fruits
Goji From the Himalayan Mountain Region of Tibet and Mongolia (China)
Goji Berry is the common name for the fruit of the Lycium barbarum plant. Goji berries grow on extensive thorny vines in the sheltered valleys of the Himalayas in Tibet and in Mongolia (both are now regions of the People's Republic of China). Lycium barbarum is a deciduous woody perennial plant growing 1 to 3 meters high. Other common names for varieties of the Lycium plant are Matrimony Vine and Boxthorn and Wolfberry.
The Himalayan Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) should not be confused with Chinese Wolfberry, which is actually a similar fruit from a related Lycium species known as Lycium Chinese. All Lycium berries have reported medicinal properties, but the best goji berries are the Himalayan Goji berries of the Lycium barbarum variety grown in Tibet and Mongolia, where the ancient soils have never been exposed to pesticides or pollution.
Chinese Wolfberries (Lycium Chinese) are often grown in soils which have experienced heavy pesticide use for fifty years, and are often falsely sold as "Himalayan Goji berries" or "Tibetan Goji berries".
The oblong or oval, deep red Goji berries are about the size of a grape, and taste like a cross between a cranberry and a cherry. The Goji berries are very tender and must be shaken from the vine rather than picked, for if touched by a human hand while fresh on the vine, the fruit will oxidize and turn black and spoil. The fruits are preserved by slowly drying them in the shade.
Goji berries have been eaten locally in the Himalayan regions of TIbet and Mongolia for centuries, and the Goji berry is celebrated in local festivals. The Himalayan Goji fruit has long been nicknamed "the happy berry" because of the sense of well-being it is said to induce. Even modern consumers of the Goji berry often report feeling happier, calmer, and more content with their life.
In the far east, the Goji berry is known as Gou Qi Zi. The name of the Lycium barbarum fruit in Mandarin Chinese is Gouqi (pronounced goo-chee). The English name of Goji may have been derived from the Mandarin name.
Health Benefits of Himalayan Goji Berries (Lycium barbarum)
Gan L, Wang J, Zhang S. [Inhibition the growth of human leukemia cells by Lycium barbarum polysaccharide]. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2001;30:333-5.
Cao GW, Yang WG, Du P. [Observation of the effects of LAK/IL-2 therapy combining with Lycium barbarum polysaccharides in the treatment of 75 cancer patients] Zhonghua Zhong Liu Za Zhi. 1994;16:428-31.
Lu CX, Cheng BQ. [Radiosensitizing effects of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide for Lewis lung cancer] Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1991;11:611-2, 582.
Medicinal uses of Himalayan Goji Berries:
The Lycium barbarum plant has a long history of traditional medicinal use, both as a general energy restoring tonic and also to cure a wide range of ailments from skin rashes and eyesight problems to diabetes. A tonic tea is made from the leaves. Traditional Chinese medicine recommends consuming up to 50 grams of Goji berries per day.
Traditional Chinese medicine regarded Goji berries as a kind of "cure-all" for various ailments, with an emphasis on strength-building, longevity, and sexual potency.
Some of the properties of Himalayan Goji berries include:
Antibacterial; Anticholesterolemic; Antipyretic; Anti-cancer; Diuretic; Hypoglycemic; Ophthalmic; Purgative; Skin Tonic; Vasodilator.
Lycium barbarum fruit is being investigated as a food that may be capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers.
In test-tube studies, a polysaccharide (a complex sugar) isolated from the Goji berry has been shown to have anti-cancer effects (Gan L, 2001). Lycium barbarum also shows some immune-enhancing properties (Gan L, 2003).
Himalayan Goji berries contain polysaccharides which strengthen the immune system. Research studies report that a polysaccharide found in the Goji fruit has been found to be a powerful secretagogue - a substance that stimulates the secretion of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) by the pituitary gland. As we get older, we produce less and less HGH. Increased levels of HGH contribute to rejuventation and anti-aging.
Fresh Lycium barbarum from Ning Xia province in China is the richest source of carotenoids. Goji berries have the highest content of beta-carotene among all foods on earth.
Beta-carotene can be transformed into vitamin A under the influence of human liver enzymes. Therefore, vitamin A ultimately plays a major influence in the action of Lycium barbarum. Lycium's function on the eyes is related to this factor.
The vitamin B1 and B2 content of Himalayan Goji berries are significant, and the natural vitamin C content of freeze-dried Lycium barbarum fruit has been measured to be 73 mg per 100 grams.
Himalayan Goji berries contain 500 times more vitamin C per gram than oranges, and are second only to Camu Camu berries as the richest source of vitamin C on earth.
Lycium barbarum contains 18 kinds of amino acids, of which 8 are the indispensable or "essential" amino acids for the human body (such as isoleucine and tryptophan). Fifty percent of Lycium's amino acids are free amino acid.
Lycium barbarum contains 21 trace mineral elements, of which the main ones are zinc, iron, copper, calcium, germanium, selenium, and phosphorus. Mature Goji berries contain about 11 mg. of iron per 100 grams.
Lycium barbarum berries from Ning Xia contains 45% glucose and 7% fructose.
The Himalayan Goji berries also contain beta-sitosterol (an anti-inflammatory agent), linoleic acid (a fatty acid), sesquiterpenoids (cyperone, solavetivone), tetraterpenoids (zeaxanthin, physalin), and betaine (0.1%).
Solvatone is a powerful anti-fungal and anti-bacterial compound.
Goji berries contain physalin, which is a natural compound that is active against all major types of leukemia. In normal and tumor-bearing mice, physalin has been shown to increase the activity of splenic natural killer cells (a type of white blood cell), and appears to have a broad-spectrum anti-cancer effect. Physalin has also been used as a treatment for Hepatitis B liver disease.
Goji berries also contain betaine, which is used by the liver to produce choline, which is a chemical compound that calms nervous feelings and enhances memory. Betaine also promotes muscle growth and protects the liver against fatty liver disease. Betaine can help reduce levels of homocysteine, which is a main risk factor in heart disease.
Best Sources of Himalayan Goji Berries (Lycium barbarum)
Dried Goji berries are available in some health stores, and there are several health juice drinks or functional beverages available over the Internet which contain Himalayan Goji berries or a concentrate of the Himalayan Goji berry fruit.
This page is ©2006-2009 by Michael Star and others. E&OE.
The content of this page about Himalayan Goji berries is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be considered as medical advice. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not review or test products classed as a "food supplement". The following statement is required by the U.S. FDA:
"This product line has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product line is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease."