Benefits of Goji Berry on Diabetes
By: Ayisatu J. Taylor
More than 8 percent of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with diabetes. With the prevalence of obesity in America, millions of people are at risk for developing diabetes. The chronic condition has potential life-threatening complications and is believed to have affected humans for centuries. In recent years, many people have turned to alternative medicines and "superfruits" like goji berries to treat their conditions and diseases.
1. Diabetes is a medical condition that affects more than 23 million
Americans. Identified by continuous abnormally high levels of glucose in
the blood because the body fails to produce sufficient insulin or the
body's cells resist using the insulin produced.
While there are various forms of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 are generally
diagnosed the most. Type 1 diabetes is when cells of the pancreas fail to
produce an amount of insulin needed to allow blood glucose to enter cells
to produce energy. Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when the cells resist
insulin's action, resulting in too much glucose in the blood.
2. Goji berries, also called wolfberry, are found in the moderate to
sub-tropic regions of Asia, including China, Mongolia, and in the Himalayas
of Tibet. The origin of the word goji is believed to come from the
simplified Mandarin word for the plant. Similar to other nightshade family
plants like tomatoes and chili peppers, wolfberry is a flowering plant that
produces a berry that tastes like a cross between a raspberry and a cherry.
In southern regions of China, goji berry plants are generally more than 3
feet tall, but in northern China, the plants can grow to more than 9 feet.
3. While they are closely related and both are in the genus Boxthorn
(Lycium), Himalayan goji berries (Lycium barbarum) should not be confused
with Chinese wolfberry (Lycium chinense). The two species of the wolfberry
plant (the names have little to do with the geographies of the species),
are both rich in antioxidants and are thought to be beneficial in boosting
the immune system and promoting longevity.
4. A perennial that produces flowers with five petals, the goji berry plant
produces an oblong, red-orange berry--containing 10 to 60 tiny seeds--that
is normally 1 to 2 centimeters long. Ripening in the northern hemisphere
usually occurs from mid-summer to mid-fall.
5. For more than 6,000 years, herbalists and alchemists have used goji
berries to make tonics and teas to boost the immune system, protect the
liver from damaging toxins and disease, improve circulation (particularly
in the legs), increase fertility, and promote longevity.
Studies have shown that goji berries are rich in antioxidants, specifically
carotenoids, which are known to protect the retina of the eye and believed
to decrease the risk of developing macular degeneration, a disease
associated with complications from diabetes. Goji berries have also been
found to help increase circulation and are believed to be beneficial in
preventing and treating a number of cardiovascular diseases, including
angina and coronary heart disease. Studies have also shown that goji
berries stimulate the nervous system (responsible for all internal organs)
and causes relaxation of arterial walls, allowing them to expand and lower
6. Goji berries have been proclaimed by proponents of alternative medicine
as the "superfruit" that can decrease the risk of developing diabetes, in
addition to treating those who already have it. However, the Food and Drug
Administration has yet to verify and approve these claims. Studies also
suggest that goji berries (consumed as tea) may hinder anticoagulant
metabolism and may react with certain medications. It important to consult
with health care providers before consuming anything that may have a
negative reaction with other medications.
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