Goji Berry supplement health benefit, available as fruit, powder, extract and capsule
For vision and eyesight, wellbeing and vitality
Also known as Fructus lycii or Lycium Berry

February 3 2018 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Goji berries grow on an evergreen shrub found in temperate and subtropical regions in China, Mongolia and in the Himalayas in Tibet. They are usually found dried and look like red raisins. Goji berries have been used for thousands of years by herbalists in China, Tibet and India. This small red berry is known as Fructus lycii and wolfberry in the West, and Kei Tze and Gou Qi Zi in Asia. A search on Medline reveals several research findings with the term wolfberry or lycium barbarum, the scientific name. The name goji appears to be an English contraction of the Mandarin name, gouqi (pronounced goo-chee) or Gou Qi Zi.

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Supplement Facts:
Vitamin C
Citrus bioflavonoids
Mixed carotenoids (astaxanthin, beta carotene,
Lutein, Lycopene, Zeaxanthin)
Bilberry extract (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Jujube extract (Zizyphus jujube)
Ginkgo biloba extract
Suma extract (Pfaffia paniculata)
Mucuna pruriens extract
Goji berry extract - Lycium Barbarum, fructus lycii

Health benefit
Goji berry has been used for centuries in Asia for eye health benefit and to maintain vitality. I can find few published research regarding its use in humans or the benefit of drinking goji juice. I understand there are countless claims when one searches online, but most of these claims are premature and not bases on extensive human study results.
   Some of the online claims include such promises as, "Would you believe the average woman in the Himalayan Hunza tribe lives to be 100? And that arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, sexual dysfunction and depression are totally unknown to them? Goji can shut down cell aging in six hours! Their secret? The berry of the goji vine. Never heard of it? You're not alone. "No plant in all of Asian medicine even approaches the benefits of Goji," says pharmacist and nutrition researcher Earl Mindell, Ph.D., author of "Goji: The Himalayan Health Secret". Start sipping it today and you'll reap rewards like ... all over cell rejuvenation, powerful protection against germs, a return to passion and sexual desire..."
   I do believe that goji berry has health benefits and future research will indicate which of the marketing claims will turn out to be accurate and which will turn out to be overly enthusiastic. For the time being, it appears that one health benefit that has promise is in the realm of vision health. Goji berry has a high level of zeaxanthin which is a nutrient, along with lutein, necessary for optimal eyesight. I would suggest, though, rather than consuming goji berry predominantly, it would be a good idea to consume a variety of berries - cranberry, blueberry, strawberry, etc - in order to ingest a number of different phytonutrients.

I was wondering if you had done any research on goji juice and, if so, what you think of its anti-aging and medicinal properties.
   I have not seen any human research yet in terms of lifespan increase. Small amounts, as part of a healthy diet, should be a helpful addition to one's food intake.

Blood sugar
Hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects and antioxidant activity of fruit extracts from Lycium barbarum.
Life Sci. 2004.
The hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of goji berry  water decoction, crude polysaccharide extracts (crude LBP), and purified polysaccharide fractions (LBP-X) in alloxan-induced diabetic or hyperlipidemic rabbits were investigated. Total antioxidant capacity assay showed that all three goji berry extracts / fractions possessed antioxidant activity. However, water and methanolc goji fruit extracts and crude polysaccharide extracts exhibited stronger antioxidant activity than purified polysaccharide fractions because goji berry crude extracts were identified to be rich in antioxidants (e.g., carotenoids, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, thiamine, nicotinic acid). Goji berry polysaccharides (glycocojugates), containing several monosaccharides and 17 amino acids, were major bioactive constituents of hypoglycemic effect. Both polysaccharides and vitamin antioxidants from goji berry were possible active principles of hypolipidemic effect.

Since no human studies have been done regarding goji and cancer, we can't say for sure whether this plant plays a role. However, many berries have compounds in them that may be beneficial in terms of overall health promotion and cancer reduction.

Nat Prod Res. 2016. Anticancer effect of ethanol Lycium barbarum (Goji berry) extract on human breast cancer T47D cell line. Anticancer activity and lack of toxicity against normal cells indicate a chemopreventive potential of Goji berries in breast cancer treatment.

Mol Med Rep. 2014. Inhibitory effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides on cell apoptosis and senescence is potentially mediated by the p53 signaling pathway.

DNA protection
J Agric Food Chem. 2017. Dietary Wolfberry Extract Modifies Oxidative Stress by Controlling the Expression of Inflammatory mRNAs in Overweight and Hypercholesterolemic Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. In the present study, we evaluated the antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of an aqueous extract of goji berry fruit in mild hypercholesterolemic and overweight subjects. The participants consumed the contents of an 80 mL pouch containing 13 g goji berry extract or placebo after one meal per day over an 8-week period. Following 8 weeks of supplementation, we observed a slight but significant decrease in erythrocyte superoxide dismutase activity and an increase in catalase activity. Furthermore, to assess endogenous DNA damage in lymphocytes, the alkaline comet assay was performed, showing that the percentage of DNA in the tail was significantly decreased by 8-week WBE intake. Additionally, the proportion of significantly deregulated mRNAs related to oxidative or inflammatory stress was considerably higher in the WBE intake group. The present data indicate that WBE intake has antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects in overweight and hypercholesterolemic subjects by modulating mRNA expression.

Eyesight and vision
Goji berry is well known for having high nutritional value. Research show goji berry contains many vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and flavonoids that support vision health. Some of these nutrients include vitamins A, C and E, and carotenoids, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Goji berry is one of nature's richest sources of zeaxanthin. It contains about 100 to 200 mg of zeaxanthin per 100 grams.

PLoS One. 2013. Effect of lycium barbarum polysaccharides on preserving retinal function after partial optic nerve transection.

Optom Vis Sci. 2011. Goji berry effects on macular characteristics and plasma antioxidant levels. Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) is purported to benefit vision because of its high antioxidant (especially zeaxanthin) content, although this effect has not been demonstrated in high-quality human studies. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of daily supplementation with a proprietary milk-based formulation of goji berry, Lacto-Wolfberry (LWB), on macular characteristics and plasma zeaxanthin and antioxidant capacity levels in elderly subjects. Overall, daily dietary supplementation with goji berry for 90 days increases plasma zeaxanthin and antioxidant levels as well as protects from hypopigmentation and soft drusen accumulation in the macula of elderly subjects.

Q. Are you aware of any published studies which indicate that: Consuming Goji berries may reduce the size of cataracts? Consuming Goji berries may decrease the rate at which cataracts grow?
   A. As of 2016 I am not aware of such studies.

Immune system benefit, wellbeing, energy
Immunomodulatory effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum fruit juice in chinese older healthy human subjects.
J Med Food. 2009.
To examine the systematic effects of Lycium barbarum on immune function, general well-being, and safety, we tested the effects of a standardized goji berry fruit juice (GoChi, FreeLife International, Phoenix, AZ, USA) at 120 mL/day, equivalent to at least 150 g of fresh fruit, the amount traditionally used, or placebo for 30 days in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study in 60 older healthy adults. The GoChi group showed a statistically significant increase in the number of lymphocytes and levels of interleukin-2 and immunoglobulin G compared to pre-intervention and the placebo group, whereas the number of CD4, CD8, and natural killer cells or levels of interleukin-4 and immunoglobulin A were not significantly altered. The GoChi group showed a significant increase in general feelings of well-being, such as fatigue and sleep, and showed a tendency for increased short-term memory and focus. No adverse reactions, abnormal symptoms, or changes in body weight, blood pressure, pulse, visual acuity, urine, stool, or blood biochemistry were seen in either group.

Liver cancer
Effect of lycium barbarum polysaccharide on human hepatoma QGY7703 cells: inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis.
Life Sci. 2005.
The study suggests that the induction of cell cycle arrest and the increase of intracellular calcium in apoptotic system may participate in the antiproliferative activity of wolfberry in human hepatoma cells.

Macular degeneration
Elderly adults between the ages of 65 and 70 years were randomized to receive either 14 grams per day of a goji berry formulation or placebo for 90 days. The participants underwent ophthalmic examinations to assess pigmentation and soft drusen count in the macula (accumulations in the eye that are associated with macular degeneration). Those in the placebo group were found to have hypopigmentation and soft drusen accumulation in the macula, whereas those in the goji berry group remained stable. It was also found that both plasma zeaxanthin level and antioxidant capacity increased significantly in the berry group, but did not change in the placebo group. Goji berry effects on macular characteristics and plasma antioxidant levels. Optom Vis Sci. 2011.

Zeaxanthin content
Fasting plasma zeaxanthin response to Fructus barbarum (Kei Tze ) in a food-based human supplementation trial.
Br J Nutr. 2005.
Increased intake of foods containing zeaxanthin may be effective in preventing age-related macular degeneration AMD because the macula accumulates zeaxanthin and lutein, oxygenated carotenoids with antioxidant and blue light-absorbing properties. Goji berry is rich in zeaxanthin dipalmitate, and is valued in Chinese culture for being good for vision. The aim of this study, which was a single-blinded, placebo-controlled, human intervention trial of parallel design, was to provide data on how fasting plasma zeaxanthin concentration changes as a result of dietary supplementation with whole wolfberry. Fasting blood was collected from healthy, consenting subjects; fourteen subjects took 15 g/d wolfberry (estimated to contain almost 3 mg zeaxanthin) for 28 d. Repeat fasting blood was collected on day 29. Age- and sex-matched controls (n 13) took no goji berry. After supplementation, plasma zeaxanthin increased 2.5-fold. This human supplementation trial shows that zeaxanthin in whole goji berries is bioavailable and that intake of a modest daily amount markedly increases fasting plasma zeaxanthin levels.

Goji berry side effects, safety, danger
At this time no goji berry side effects have been reported in the medical literature. High doses of goji berry extract could induce alertness at bedtime and perhaps interfere with optimal sleep. As to adverse reactions, it is difficult to expect any problems with drinking a couple of ounces a day unless the goji juice is mixed with other fruits that you may have an allergic reaction to.

Review and summary
What is the difference between Himalayan, Tibetan, or Chinese goji berry? There's also Himalayan product for sale. I am starting to be wary of a goji juice scam.
   Yes, as with any supplement or product, a goji juice scam is possible. Himalayan, and all the others, are just marketing terms. If you buy a product that says Himalayan, it will likely be no different than that bought with a different brand label. In fact, for the cheapest option, visit your local Chinatown and you can find it for a fraction of the price than you would in a health food store or through multilevel marketing distribution channels. As you may know, the Himalayas are high mountains, and even though they have valleys where crops and trees can grow, large scale production in this area and transportation is difficult. My understanding is that most of the goji berry or juice you see in the United States likely comes from a few suppliers in China whose products may not be very different from each other.

Extract information
Goji berry is sold as the fresh berry, frozen berry, dried goji berry and as a supplement. As a supplement, you can find it as a regular powder, as a 2 to 1 extract, 4 to 1 extract and even higher concentrations. One supplier is selling it as a 40 percent polysaccharide extract.

Q. Is it better to take a goji berry supplement, powder, drink the berry juice, or eat the whole berry?
   A. I think all these forms could be helpful for various reasons. As a general rule, it is healthy to eat goji berries, but then again almost all berries are healthy to eat. I would suggest eating a wide variety of berries as opposed to one type. As to the juice, it depends what other juices are mixed with it. As a general guideline, a small amount of the juice would be fine to drink on a regular basis. A goji berry extract supplement can be used occasionally for overall energy and wellbeing, and vision help, or to treat a particular medical condition.

Q. I saw a claim that I hope you can clarify. It says,  FreeLife is the only company in the world to have developed a Spectral Signature to identify, isolate, and harvest only those special berries with the exact nutrient profile of the legendary Himalayan goji berry."
   A. FreeLife is a marketer of goji berry juice and in order to make their product appear different than other products on the market, they have to come up with something to impress those who don't know any better. There is no evidence that Himalayan goji berry or juice sold by FreeLife has more health benefit than those from other companies. I am not saying that FreeLife goji juice is not a healthy addition to one's diet. My point is if you can find goji juice that is cheaper and without the need to buy from a multilevel company.

Q. Where can I find goji wholesale?
   A. You can search online for goji wholesale, or can visit Physician Formulas.

I am not sure if the extract is as beneficial as drinking the actual juice?
   No studies have been done comparing goji extract to juice. It may be a good idea to take the goji extract a couple of times a week and drink the juice a couple of days a week. It's often a good idea not to use the same herb every single day. There are many other fruit juices and herbs that have beneficial properties, too.

I've been a fan of your website for a long time now, and I especially like your honesty. One can tell you're really trying your best to present the nutrients information without "oversell" and "pill pushing". After having tried a few unusual supplements myself that seemed to do some liver damage, I treasure the personal experience anecdotes you tell. I agree that the labels on most supplement bottles will overdose a person and harm people's health. But when taken in smaller doses and less often, I believe the supplements can save lives. A goji berry supplement, and even nibbling on a few goji berries as a snack, seems to have given me a mild heart attack in the recent past (some of my personal experimenting on myself). The room was going dark and I had a bad pain in the center of my back (I'm a 53 yr. old female). I was wondering if there seems to be, in your opinion, an ingredient in goji that I could learn to avoid, and I'm guessing it's probably the zeaxanthin. Any ideas? Should I be avoiding sulfur or something?
    This is the first report we have had of this type of reaction to goji berry supplements or eating goji berries. Was it coincidence? I would be surprised if the goji berries had anything to do with your symptoms. However, unusual reactions can occur from almost any medicine or supplement. Please keep us updated and let us know if it occurs even if you eat one goji berry.

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Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 capsule
Servings Per Container 120 servings
  Amount per serving % Daily Value
Goji berry extract (4:1) 600 mg
Daily Value not established.

Supplement Facts
Goji Berry - Wolfberry -- 600 mg, 4 to 1 extract