Goji berries - also known as wolf berries - are tiny dried shriveled looking red berries with a long history of inclusion in therapeutic Chinese Cooking. As with many other therapeutic Chinese herbs they are often cooked in popular therapeutic dishes such as congee - a soupy mix of rice, beans, herbs and vegetables with chicken or pork - and in other tonic soups and teas which are consumed regularly.
It turns out that eating goji beries daily gives significant extra antioxidant protection which may help male and female fertility especially when oxidative stress levels increase with age. It's easy to put a spoonful of goji berries in a mug of hot tea every day and when they have softened enjoy their delicious fruity taste - they are especially nice in ginger tea.
In Chinese medicine goji berries are used to tonify the 'liver yin' and 'kidney yin' which are often depleted in women with infertility, especially those with amenorrhoea (no menstrual cycle), fatigue, insomnia and a need to create more body fluids and moisture. Goji is a light and nourishing tonic that can be used long-term without causing stagnation which is associated with many tonic herbs.
Studies (1) have shown that when goji berries are consumed daily certain changes take place in gene expression that can protect cells from damage especially when cells are damaged or stressed. Other studies (2) have shown that when goji berries are consumed daily skin damage from UV radiation can be significantly reduced as the berries powerfully reduce inflammation and promote healing. Given the onslaught of chemicals our bodies encounter daily goji may help to protect our cells from chemical-induced damage.
Other studies (3) have shown that goji extracts can protect against the oxidative damage that increases with age. Such damage is associated with both male and female infertility. After just thirty days of goji consumption significant changes in antioxidant capacity are noted:
"...increased endogenous lipid peroxidation, and decreased antioxidant activities, as assessed by superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) and total antioxidant capacity (TAOC), and immune function were observed in aged mice and restored to normal levels in the polysaccharides-treated (goji) groups."
"...Lycium barbarum (goji) polysaccharides can be used in compensating the decline in TAOC (total antioxidant capacity), immune function and the activities of antioxidant enzymes and thereby reduces the risks of lipid peroxidation accelerated by age-induced free radical."
This study also showed that the antioxidant capacity of goji is increased when consumed with vitamin C. One caution you should be aware of is that goji may interact with warfarin - a commonly used anti-coagulant medication - used to thin the blood. Also goji is contraindicated in pregnancy due to it's uterine stimulatory effects.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT intended to diagnose, offer medical or nutritional treatment or replace medical or nutritional advice for which you should consult a suitably qualified physician or dietitian.
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1. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Sep 28;59(18):10088-96. Epub 2011 Aug 25. Effect of Goji (Lycium barbarum) on expression of genes related to cell survival. Lin NC, Lin JC, Chen SH, Ho CT, Yeh AI.
2. Phytochem Photobiol Sci. 2010 Apr;9(4):601-7. Mice drinking goji berry juice (Lycium barbarum) are protected from UV radiation-induced skin damage via antioxidant pathways. Reeve VE, Allanson M, Arun SJ, Domanski D, Painter N.
3. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 May 22;111(3):504-11. Epub 2006 Dec 28. Effect of the Lycium barbarum polysaccharides on age-related oxidative stress in aged mice.
Li XM, Ma YL, Liu XJ.