computer shareThe Condensed Version of Goji Berry’s Benefits

If you’re short on time (it is Labor Day weekend!), here’s the quick and dirty summary on wolfberry.

Yes, the goji berry, aka wolfberry, (Lycium barbarum L.), appears to be the real deal. It earned its fame through its dedication and hard work in modulating immune health, supporting blood sugar to remain at normal levels, assisting with vision, acting as an antioxidant, and its overall support for many of the organ systems.

How can one tiny fruit do so much? The reason is that it has so many beneficial biochemical pathways it partakes in. In fact, reading this summary about it made me giddy with geek-pleasure. (It also made me a bit cross-eyed!)

Ok, for those of you wanted the cliff notes, go have fun, we’re done!


My Personal Experience

Now, for those of you who are more curious, I decided to do a little digging into this celebrity superfood, as I was a bit hesitant myself that it deserved all the praise it was getting. In fact, I have witnessed suspiciously some of my fellow health devotees report a burst in their energy with consumption of various forms of this fruit. I too have been a spectator that has witnessed with curiosity juice imbibers jumping about in exalted energy. This had to be a sales tactic, right? It reminded me of the “Gummy Beary Juice” from Gummy Bears. (Did I just date myself?) If you don’t know what I mean, check out this video:

So, I couldn’t turn down a taste of this “magical elixir” when my mom offered me a sip in Italy. I have to say, I feel it did enliven us to swing our health swords and battle any unwanted jet lag. This was particularly helpful after only 15 minutes of sleep due to us being bounced from an Andrea Bocelli concert to the Rome apart. At times, I felt we may even be a bit annoying with our “perkiness.” Furthermore, I noticed that my skin tone appeared more radiant. Not too shabby!


The Detailed Version of Goji Berry: Ancient & Modern Day Wisdom Unite

According to Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects:

The wolfberry fruit has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for more than 2000 years, and its use was first recorded around 200 BCE in Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing , an ancient book detailing the medicinal and agricultural knowledge of the mythical Chinese emperor Shen Nong.

…Wolfberry is one of the 120 herbs belonging to the top grade, which was believed to have remarkable health benefits and to be harmless to humans. Long-term use of wolfberry was considered beneficial for strengthening the body, keeping fit, prolonging life, and easing life through all the seasons , .

Wolfberry was also listed in a sixteenth century collection of books by Li Shi-Zhen, considered the first pharmacopeia in the world (the Compendium of Materia Medica.)

TCM views the nature of wolfberry as calming and it to be of “sweet flavor.” They believe that “wolfberry can act on both the “liver channel” and the “kidney channel,” and the major health benefits of wolfberry are its ability to nourish and tonify liver and kidney, improve jing (, the basic elements that constitute the body and maintain life activities), and improve eye function (Chinese Pharmacopoeia 2005).”

Furthermore, the China State Food and Drug Administration, allows wolfberry to be one of the eighty seven TCM ingredients that can be used as both normal food and functional food!1


Goji Berry, the “Happy Fruit”

iStock_000010758845LargeA randomized-double-blind, placebo-controlled trial examined the effect of orally consumed Lycium barbarum as a standardized juice in healthy adults for 14 days. The researchers examined by questionnaire subjective ratings (0-5) of general well-being, neurologic/psychologic traits, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular complaints and any report of adverse effects. They also observed objective measures in body weight, body-mass index, blood pressure, pulse rate, and visual acuity. Data was compared for differences between day 1 and day 15.

Significant differences were found, with the Goji consumers who reported increased ratings for “energy level, athletic performance, quality of sleep, ease of awakening, ability to focus on activities, mental acuity, calmness, and feelings of health, contentment, and happiness.” The juice imbibers also stated they experienced decreased fatigue and stress and improved regularity of gastrointestinal function. There were no changes in objective measures.

The authors concluded that daily consumption of juice for “14 days increases subjective feelings of general well-being, and improves neurologic/psychologic performance and gastrointestinal functions. The data strongly suggest that further research is indicated to confirm and extend knowledge of the potential effects of Lycium barbarum upon human health.”2

A major limitation of the study is related to its short duration. It may be hard to see objective results change in 2 weeks. Over the long term, a reduction in subjective stress could affect all of the parameters mentioned above long-term.



The Bioactive Compounds in Goji Berries

Wolfberry contains arabinogalactanproteins (AGPs), the carotenoid zeaxanthin, and the vitamin C precursor 2-O-(?-D-glucopyranosyl) ascorbic acid. As the fruit it contains both water soluble (LBP, vitamin C precursor) and fat-soluble (zeaxanthin) components, the extraction and production of the final product is important. Wolfberry polysaccharides and glycoconjugates are often called Lycium barbarum polysaccharide (LBP). This is promoted as a unique bioactive with immuno-modulating and antioxidant activity.1

Goji also contains betaine, cerebroside, ?-sitosterol, flavonoids, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins (in particular, riboflavin, thiamin, and ascorbic acid). As mentioned, the predominant carotenoid is zeaxanthin, but other minor carotenoids are also present.

The LBPs consists of “highly branched polysaccharides and proteoglycans (Figure 1B). The glycosidic part accounts, in most cases, for about 90%–95% of the mass and consists of arabinose, glucose, galactose, mannose, rhamnose, xylose, and galacturonic acid….Different fractions of LBPs have different activities and the galacturonic acid content is an imperative factor for activities of LBP.” 3



Wolfberry’s 8 Major Actions At a Glance

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  1. Antioxidant Benefits
  2. Immune modulation- this includes assisting with modulators of inflammation, such as NF-KB, and other cytokines.3
  3. Supportive of healthy blood sugar levels- according to that amazing review I discussed at the beginning, LBPs support healthy blood sugar, “by increasing glucose metabolism and insulin secretion and promoting pancreatic ?-cell proliferation.”3 In fact, it has an effect glucose pathway similar to how VIP affects mold sensitivity, according to Richie Schoemaker’s interview with Dr. Mercola. (I compared the pathways.)3,4
  4. Beneficial to vision– in a double-masked, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 150 elderly subjects receiving 13.7g/d of a wolfberry formulation for 90 days, researchers reported benefits in stabilization in hypopigmentation and soft drusen accumulation in the macula, which is connected to decreasing risk of damage due to macular degeneration. Furthermore, zeaxanthin level and antioxidant capacity increased by 26% and 57%, respectively, in the wolfberry group. (Note, this was a 3 month trial verses a 2 week trial, as above, which may be why the vision effects were reported.) 5In vitro studies also have shown benefit to glaucoma epithelial cells.3
  5. Potential Sun Protection-a rodent study with mice that were hairless (poor things!) reported, “5% goji berry juice significantly reduced the inflammatory oedema of the sunburn reaction. Dilutions of goji berry juice between 1% and 10% dose-dependently protected against SSUV-induced immunosuppression, and against suppression induced by the mediator, cis-urocanic acid, measured by the contact hypersensitivity reaction.” Furthermore, it was concluded that, “The immune protection could not be ascribed to either the minor excipients in the goji juice, pear and apple juice, nor the vitamin C content, nor the preservative, and appeared to be a property of the goji berry itself.” 6
  6. Toxin Protection3
  7. Heart Health3
  8. Nervous system support- the authors of the 2015 study so robustly referenced concluded,Furthermore, LBPs protect against neuronal injury and loss induced by ?-amyloid peptide, glutamate excitotoxicity, ischemic/reperfusion, and other neurotoxic insults. LBPs ameliorate the symptoms of mice with Alzheimer’s disease and enhance neurogenesis in the hippocampus and subventricular zone, improving learning and memory abilities. They reduce irradiation- or chemotherapy-induced organ toxicities. LBPs are beneficial to male reproduction by increasing the quality, quantity, and motility of sperm, improving sexual performance, and protecting the testis against toxic insults”.3


LabsPotential Medication Interactions to Consider

Due to its support for blood sugar and its inflammation-modulation effects, wolfberry may affect medication for normalizing glucose levels and blood clotting. You also want to consider its effect on modulating liver health, which could make medication levels change in the blood. 7 Therefore, monitor your medications and labs with your doctors to see if you need to decrease or alter dosages.


My Conclusion

Here’s the thing, one of the reasons I am sharing so much on essential oils, and now wolfberry juice, is that I believe these are simple tools that anyone can use, responsibly, to start empowering their health and move from fear of dis-ease to more vitality. The juice blend I now use personally contains wolfberry, various beneficial oils, and other supportive berry blends.

It provides me with a convenient way to get a combination of essential oils and all the additional benefits of this superfood. Furthermore, it’s a great method for those who would rather “drink their oils” verses “rub them on.” (Some people just can’t get a hang of rubbing their bodies with oils!)

Still, do you want to know the number one reason I drink this juice and use essential oils myself? It’s because it’s true integrative and functional medicine! TCM and ancient wisdom is united through biochemistry and evidence-based studies, case reports, and clinical trials. These tools also support the body-mind. That’s exciting!

You can also consider packing some wolfberries in your kids’ lunch box this year!


Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic, Grade A essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and quality and standardized. There is no quality control in the United States and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. This information is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime.




  1. Bucheli P, Gao Q, Redgwell R, et al. Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects of Chinese Wolfberry. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press; 2011. Chapter 14. Available from:
  2. Amagase H, Nance DM. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum (Goji) Juice, GoChi. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 May;14(4):403-12. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0004.
  3. Cheng J, Zhou Z-W, Sheng H-P, et al. An evidence-based update on the pharmacological activities and possible molecular targets of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 2015;9:33-78. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S72892.
  4. Mercola, J. Documentary Reveals the Hazards of Toxic Mold and Mold-Related Illness. September 5, 2015.
  5. Bucheli P, Vidal K, Shen L, Gu Z, Zhang C, Miller LE, Wang J. Goji berry effects on macular characteristics and plasma antioxidant levels. Optom Vis Sci. 2011 Feb;88(2):257-62. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e318205a18f.
  6. Reeve VE, Allanson M, Arun SJ, Domanski D, Painter N.Mice drinking goji berry juice (Lycium barbarum) are protected from UV radiation-induced skin damage via antioxidant pathways. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2010 Apr;9(4):601-7. doi: 10.1039/b9pp00177h.
  7. Medline Plus. Drugs, Herbs and Supplements. Goji. February 5, 2015. (Please not species of wolfberry if citing references with adverse effects and note that it is not Lycium barbum.)
  8. Abstracts reviewed: PubMed: