Goji berries are tiny red-orange berries which are harvested in the Himalayan regions of Tibet, Nepal and some areas of north and south China.
These berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 6000 years.
In the Himalayan regions which produce the world’s best goji berries, these fruits are revered and every year, two weeks are set aside to celebrate its wonderful healing properties.
Some nutritionists consider that the enormous popularity of goji berries in the western world is because of the presence of 4 master molecules – polysaccharides - that are unique and not present in other foods.
Apart from this, goji berries contain very high levels of beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, B2, B1 and B6, selenium, phosphorous, vitamin E, zinc, copper, iron, germanium, calcium, amino acids and other trace minerals. The health benefits of goji berries along with other berries as an antioxidant are well known.
They can prevent many chronic disorders like high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid problems, atherosclerosis, common cold and flu.
Goji berries can be consumed raw. They retain their nutritional properties even when dried for this process is usually undertaken in low temperatures. Goji juice is also a popular way to consume it.
This fruit can be added to many recipes or just eaten plain to get the best benefits.
Side Effects of Goji Berries
While goji berries are powerful antioxidant and also have many other health benefits, there are some side effects that we need to be aware of.
There could be possible drug-herb interactions for those who take blood thinning medications – especially warfarin. Warfarin is used to treat those with blood clots resulting from pulmonary embolus or deep vein thrombosis. This medication can prevent blood clots and reduce the chance of heart attacks and strokes.
Those taking warfarin must indicate this to their doctor for it interacts with both prescription and non-prescription medications and herbal supplements.
So, anyone taking warfarin must avoid taking goji berries. Blood pressure and diabetes medications could also interact adversely with goji berries. The natural qualities of goji berries can affect pancreatic functioning and insulin production. This is why diabetic patients must consult their doctors if they start eating goji berries.
Those who suffer from pollen allergies may need to avoid these berries. Typical allergy symptoms include nasal congestion, itchy eyes, sneezing, wheezing, itchy skin and hives.
Anyone who suffers such symptoms must immediately cease using goji berries and consult their doctor.
When we consider goji berry side effects, we need to realize that what affects one person may no affect another. It is preferable to take goji berry products during the day and not nighttime.
This is because energy levels and alertness increases with goji berries and this could disturb our sleep pattern when taken at night. Do not take this in excess. Stick to the recommended daily intake and you will mostly not suffer from any side effects.
Increased blood flow benefits of goji berries could adversely affect hemophiliacs and older people. Both groups could experience increased levels of bleeding. Atropine is found in differing quantities in goji berries. An excess of atropine can cause side effects like nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, eye discomfort in bright lights, and hallucinations in the elderly.
The high levels of selenium in goji berries could have an adverse effect on fetuses. Hence pregnant women must be cautious when using goji berries and consult their doctors.
Selenium causes birth defects, lowers sperm count and increases the chances of production of abnormal sperm.
When we start any new food or supplement, our body’s first reaction could be problems with our digestives system. Hence, some goji berry users have had mild digestive disorders when they started consuming goji berry supplements for the first time, like nausea, indigestion, diarrhea and vomiting.
Allergic reaction to goji berries can also result in digestive disorders. Hence, always take goji berries along with other foods to restrict the possibility of digestive problems.
Overall, goji berries do not produce any drastic side effects. The benefits far outweigh the demerits. Consuming an ounce or two of this juice or eating a few dried goji berries (10-30 grams) every day will give us many health benefits.