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Health benefits and side effects of the Goji/Chinese Wolfberry

Health benefits and side effects of the Goji/Chinese Wolfberry

The goji berry, or Chinese wolfberry, is a stated “superfood” known to have some health benefits and few side effects.

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The Goji Berry / Chinese Wolfberry

Indigenous to China, the goji berry, or wolfberry, is a tiny, shrub grown, orange-reddish berry known to be nutrient rich. Following cleaning, they can be eaten raw, and lend themselves to enhancing trail mixes, cereals, salads, soups, and yogurts due to their texture and hints of herbal sweetness. Often sold in bulk, goji berries can be bought in some natural food, herbal, or Asian stores, and range anywhere from $15-$40 a pound depending on source and whether or not they’re organic. Highly revered as a traditional Chinese medicine, the recorded history of medicinal usage of goji berries goes back over 2000 years.

Health Benefits of the Goji Berry

Like many berries, goji berries offer a great supply of antioxidants, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Recent claims of cancer prevention and the restoration of youthful vitality through ingestion of the goji berry are most likely over-exaggerated and have not been verified by scientific studies. However, there seems to be some scientific research showing that the goji berry may provide diverse health benefits. Though more research needs to be done, preliminary studies indicate that goji berries may lower blood pressure, help with the treatment of diabetes, and aid in the prevention of neuro-degenerative diseases of the brain.

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Side Effects and Interactions of the Goji Berry

Eating reasonable amounts of goji berry is presumably harmless. Nonetheless, they may negatively interact with blood thinners, blood pressure medications, and/or diabetes medications. Goji berries may also simulate the effects of estrogen, and they contain betaine which is known to induce abortion and menstruation. For these reasons, pregnant women should abstain from consuming the goji berry.

Google Trends History

The Google Trends graph below shows search interest in goji berries over time. As the goji berry has come into more mainstream awareness, interest has gradually increased with a peak in curiosity occurring in March of 2014.

Bottom Line

The goji berry, or Chinese wolfberry, is a popular and nutritious “superfood” that may impart various health benefits. There does not seem to be any side effects to eating goji berries in moderation. However, there are some known interactions. Goji berries might interact negatively with diabetes medications or other medicines which affect the blood such as anticoagulants and blood pressure medications. Pregnant women may also want to avoid ingesting the goji berry, as it contains an ingredient known to bring about menstruation and abortion.

Your Goji Berry Reviews

Have you tried goji berries? Give us your reviews in the comments below.

Updated March 6, 2015
Originally published May 2014

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