The goji berry (Lycium barbarum) is also called buckthorn fruit, wolfberry or happy berry. The home of the goji berry is in China and Mongolia. It has been an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for millennia for a wide variety of ailments.
However, the goji berry is also growing in some regions of Tibet in the Himalayas. Especially the goji berry from Tibet is characterised by a particularly juicy and sweet quality and has a higher vital substance profile than goji berries from other regions of the world.
The perennial buckthorn bush (goji berry bush) can be up to four metres high. Its branches are usually spiky; where the name “buckthorn” comes from.
Straight on the branches sit grey-green, oblong leaves. These leaves are up to 10 cm long and 3 cm wide.
Between June and August is the heyday of the buckthorn. The purple flowers are located in the leaf axils on short stems that emerge directly from the branches. The flowers usually have 5 petals, like most nightshade plants. Between August and October, the red or orange-yellow fruits develop from the flowers.
Like potatoes, tomatoes and peppers, goji berries belong to the nightshade family. In contrast to the latter, however, the goji bush is hardy and can therefore also be planted in Central European regions.
The goji plant was first mentioned in China about 4600 years ago. In Western Europe, the plant only came into view much later. Botanists mentioned it for the first time in 1740.
Writings from 1885 spoke of its occurrence in Germany and its neighbouring countries. While the goji plant has long been valued in Asian countries as a remedy with all its positive effects, people in European countries had no idea of the health benefits of the plant. Yet the plant also grows and flourishes here and has spread with its broad root system into hedges, embankments and green areas.
Goji berry on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMor59TPLik
Healing and active substances
The goji berry has many health-promoting substances in concentrated form and is therefore said to be effective for strengthening the immune system, keeping the eyes healthy, and preventing arteriosclerosis and diabetes.
It also allegedly prevents stress and states of fatigue or supports the body in regeneration in acute cases. It is also said to have a positive effect on cardiovascular diseases.
The following vitamins, trace elements and minerals are contained in goji berries:
The vitamin content in goji berries is extraordinarily high. Above all, the B-vitamins are abundant. Usually they are found in nuts, wholemeal products and seeds, but the vitamin B content of goji berries is far higher. A big advantage is that these vitamins can be easily absorbed by the body when eating goji berries. Furthermore, they contain 3 times more vitamin C than oranges and pro-vitamin A (beta-carotene).
Minerals are abundant in goji berries. Their occurrence far exceeds that of many plants. Minerals act in the body primarily as activators. Most important are calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
30 trace elements are contained in the goji berry. The most important are iron, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium and chromium.
Due to unusually high content of minerals, trace elements and vitamins, which cannot be found in this form in any other fruit, the demand for the berries is constantly increasing. Goji berries are rightly gaining more and more fans, as the berries are said to be particularly good for the eyes and also protect the body from many other health ailments due to their antioxidant effect. Regular consumption of goji berries, for example, is said to strengthen the immune system and ensure a balanced intestinal flora. A special feature, however, is that they would have a certain protective effect against cancer.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the goji berry is valued more than almost any other plant. Life-prolonging properties are attributed to the berry. Not only the fruit, but also the leaves, seeds, bark and roots are used. In Asian countries, goji berries have been used for centuries to support the immune system, strengthen the heart, liver and kidneys, increase potency and treat heart disease and high blood pressure. Furthermore, goji is said to improve vision and eliminate dizziness and headaches.
“Regular consumption of goji berries regulates the vital flow of energy, strengthens the whole organism and gives long life.” (from a manual for doctors of the Ming dynasty)
In TCM, the life energy Qi plays an important role. This energy flows through the entire body and is responsible for vitality. The goji berry is said to contribute to the increase of vitality and to strengthen the yin. The advantage is that it is easily digestible and does not burden the spleen. The berry is often used for disorders of the kidney function or to strengthen the blood of the liver function.
Goji against eye diseases
A special feature of goji’s healing effects is its beneficial influence on the eyes.
Especially its active substances zeaxanthin and lutein have a strong effect on the eyes.
Traditionally, the goji berry is used to treat glaucoma, because the increased intraocular pressure is supposed to be reduced with the help of the goji fruit. It is also recommended for macular degeneration.
Goji can also be used regularly for other types of eye problems to improve eye health.
Strengthening the immune system
Another popular use of the goji berry is to strengthen the immune system.
Goji berries contain numerous vitamins and trace elements, so they can alleviate immune deficiencies that exist due to vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
The polysaccharides contained in the goji berry are also said to have a strengthening effect on the immune system.
Regulation of the immune system
Just as goji berries can strengthen the immune system on one hand, they can also calm down an overactive immune system on the other hand.
Therefore, eating goji berries is also suitable for relieving asthma, allergies of all kinds and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatism.
Heart and circulation
Goji berries should have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system in several respects.
Too high blood pressure should be lowered and the general blood circulation is promoted. As a result, goji berries are also said to prevent strokes and heart attacks.
Other areas of application
Since goji berries have a mild blood sugar-lowering effect, they can be used to help in treating diabetes.
Goji berries are also said to have a strengthening effect, which explains their use against signs of ageing, weakness and burnout.
Because of their muscle-building effect, goji berries are also preferred by athletes.
It is also known that goji berries are good for fat burning in the body. Therefore they are popular for losing weight. However, one must bear in mind that goji berries also contain calories, comparable to sultanas and other dried fruit.
Goji berries are even said to prevent cancer.
In addition, chemotherapy should also become more tolerable in an existing cancer with the help of goji berries.
Side effect: Interaction with anticoagulants.
Goji berries can increase the effect of some anticoagulants. There is an interaction. More precisely, the medicines affected by this interaction are so-called vitamin K antagonists, for example Marcumar with the active ingredient Phenprocoumon and Coumadin with the active ingredient warfarin. Other anticoagulants could also be affected by this interaction. Therefore, when taking anticoagulants, one should carefully read the package insert to see if there could be any interactions with the goji berry.
Since goji berries are recommended for the treatment of high blood pressure, but anticoagulants are also frequently used in the case of blood pressure patients, it is quite important to know about this interaction.
Grow your own goji
Nurseries and garden centres offer frost-resistant goji bushes, and seedlings can be ordered via the internet. You can plant them in spring 30 cm deep into the ground at intervals of one and a half metres. After one year, cut back the branches so that the bush becomes stronger. The bush does not need any care, so it is undemanding, but it prefers the Sun. It produces relatively strong root shoots. The healthy, ripe berries can be dried, frozen, juiced or can be consumed raw.
Dried goji berries taste very delicious and are therefore a worthwhile addition to mueslis, in yoghurt and for snacking. Dried goji berries are the most common application.
You can buy dried goji berries in drug stores, health food shops, or via the internet.
Note: For health conditions, do not use medicinal plants without consulting a doctor or pharmacist. In case of animal diseases, consult a veterinarian.