Benefits of Goji Berry on
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
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
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
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 blood pressure.
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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