Goji berry plants are deciduous, evergreen shrubs that are found mostly in the subtropical and temperate regions of Mongolia, China and Himalayan valleys of Tibet and Nepal.
These red-orange berries, which resemble raisins when dried, have a tangy sweet-sour flavor. They can be consumed raw, as juice or goji berry supplements that are available as capsules.
Goji berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for several centuries for they are believed to protect the liver, improve eyesight, sexual function, boost immune system function, improve circulation and promote longevity.
Goji berries contain carotenoids like zeaxanthin and beta-carotene which are antioxidants.
These are vital to protect the body against harm caused by free radicals, age-related eye disorders like macular degeneration or cataracts.
Goji berries also contain minerals like zinc, calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium, selenium, phosphorous and germanium.
Vitamin C, E, A, B1, B2 and B6 are also present in goji berries. Besides these, there are many amino acids, trace minerals and small quantities of healthy fatty acids in goji berries.
The berries are the most widely used part of the goji plant although the Chinese do use the bark for medicinal purposes and the leaves to make goji tea.
Benefits of Goji Berry Supplements
Goji berries are available as juices, dried fruits, capsules, standardized extracts and tinctures. Goji capsules are an easy way to enjoy the health benefits of this nutrient-rich berry without too many side effects.
The main benefits of goji berry supplements are got from the active ingredients like beta-sitosterol, polysaccharides and cerebrosides found in them.
Beta-sitosterol may block cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract. Beta-sitosterol is found in the goji berry and bark. Polysaccharides reduce the risk of cancer by inhibiting growth of cancer cells – especially leukemia cells. It also improves immune system functioning and has neuroprotective benefits.
Cerebrosides could block liver damaging enzymes from being released.
Other chemical constituents in goji berry supplements can reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The host of other vitamins and minerals found in these supplements makes them an ideal source of balanced nutrition.
A study conducted on 60 healthy adults in the age group of 55-72 years found that those who received goji juice were healthier and demonstrated greater immunological response when compared to the placebo group.
However, there is no specific research on whether the similar effect will be enjoyed when goji berry supplements are taken for specific illnesses.
Although there is no scientific evidence, goji berry supplements can benefit those with high blood pressure, tinnitus or ringing in the ears, erectile dysfunction, dizziness, malaria, nosebleeds, wheezing, coughing, irritability, thirst, sweating,
Alzheimer’s disease, strengthen bones and muscles and improve functioning of the liver and kidneys.
Taking goji berry supplements could reduce blood pressure and blood sugar. However, those with high or low blood pressure must know the exact dosage they can take.
Those with low blood sugar must monitor these levels regularly and make sure goji berry supplements do not further reduce their levels.
Healthy people can take 2500mg of goji capsules daily only under medical supervision. For those with specific illness, the actual dosage depends on the disorder.
Goji berry supplements will interact adversely with warfarin taken for blood clotting problems. This could cause excess bleeding in patients.
There could also be possible interaction with blood pressure and diabetes drugs. Those with pollen allergies must avoid goji berry supplements.
Always check with your doctor before taking any herbal supplement. Pregnant and breastfeeding women must avoid these supplements for goji berries contain betaine that could stimulate a miscarriage.
Another problem that goji berry supplements are facing is that just like other herbal products like aloe vera, they are being promoted by unscrupulous marketers.
Since there are no FDA regulations for herbal supplements, knowing the actual active ingredients is difficult to tell. For example, some of the goji juice sold contains more of flavors, citric acid and preservatives and very little of goji fruit.
Goji berry supplements made with 100% pure goji fruit will provide us with the powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties that they possess. Purchasing goji berry supplements from reliable manufacturers is a must.