Goji berry used medicinally first appeared in The Book of Songs over 2000 years ago. The poet Liu Yuxi pointed out that the Taoists monks that consumed the berry and root achieved immortality. Laozi, a Taoist philosopher said the herb compared to the magical dew made by the marriage of heaven and earth. The importance of this longevity herb goes beyond what is written in texts. Traditionally it has been used to tonify and enrich the yin essence in the lungs, kidneys and liver. With a special affinity for treating blurry and diminishing vision as well as tinnitus. By reducing inflammation and protecting against oxidation among other things. It is also is a plant that can handle harsh climates like Colorado and easily grows abundantly here. That is why I chose to use goji berry as a ingredient in the wood element tea blend. Read more about the powerful medicinal uses below.
Common Names: Boxthorn, Desert-Thorn, Wolfberry, Barberry Matrimony Vine, Lycium, Gou Qi Zi
The Chinese character for “gou” means wolf or dog. In China the wolf symbolizes manhood, courage, teamwork, and strength. Which are all characteristics of the spiritual qualities of goji.
Scientific Name: Lycium barbarum L.
Energetics- Sweet, Neutral
Spiritual Uses– Connects us to our spiritual path, combats depression, reconnects us to our passion, soul nourishment, helps us face change and rewrite toxic habits, opens our creative force.
Organs– Lungs, Liver, Blood
Meridians- Liver, Kidney, Blood
Parts Used- Berry, Root Bark, Leaf and Flower.
Dosage- 2-4 berries, root decoction 1/2 cup daily, berries 1/2 cup daily. Tincture: 1/2 tsp 3x daily
Origin of Goji Berries
The Himalayas, the ridge that cuts through Asia, in between the Indian subcontinent and the Tibetan plateau. The land that boasts hundreds of peaks over 23,600 ft. Among diverse micro-climates of scrub forests, deciduous forests, grasslands, savannah, alpine meadows, and tundra.
Goji berries were found among the Himalayan mountains long ago by ancient people. Himalayan Traditional Medicine created the foundation for Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tibetan Medicine, and Ayurvedic Medicine. Many that live among this region have incredibly long with lifespans of over 100 years. Goji berries are one of the common foods that they all eat that contribute to their longevity. After scientific research we now understand why Goji has contributed to their overall health and why it has become a popular superfood.
Goji has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for more than 2000 years, and 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. The Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing is the oldest book on Chinese herbs, and records 365 traditional herbs
The Lycium plant was also a recorded component of the formulas taken by the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty ~221 BC, and appeared in Shennong Bencao Jing, the first whole materia medica in ~200 CE. Prior to this, the use of Lycium in the mountains of the Ningxia Province was recorded in the Shijing, a collection of poems dating back to 1100 BC.
Wolfberry is one of the 120 herbs belonging to the top grade herbs, which was believed to have remarkable health benefits. Long-term use of wolfberry was considered beneficial for strengthening the body, keeping fit, prolonging life, and easing life through all the seasons
Actions & Constituents:
Key Actions- Blood Tonic, Liver Tonic, Anti-fungal, Hypoglycemic, Neuroprotective, Anticancer, Antiradiation, Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-aging, Nourishes and Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys, Benefits Jing (Essence), Brightens the Eyes, Enriches Yin, Moistens the Lungs, Promote Longevity.
Key Constituents: Berries – Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBPs), Betaine, Carotene, Zeaxanthin, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Flavonoids, Vitamins A and C, Linoleic acid. Roots – Cinnamic acid, Calcium, Zinc, Iron, Copper, Chromium, Magnesium and others.
-One small goji berry is highly concentrated with nutrients. Among many things it is used to energize, build blood and treat infertility.
-More protein than whole wheat, 19 amino acids (including all 8 essential amino acids.
-Twenty one chase minerals including germanium which has anti-cancer effects.
-Many antioxidants, vitamin c, vitamin e, flavonoids like zeaxanthin, carrotenoids, and betacarotene. B complex vitamins,
-Beta-sitosterol similar to cholesterol that is anti-inflammatory, with cholesterol lowering effects and can be used for prostate enlargement and impotence.
-Essential fatty acids.
-Cyperone which is beneficial for the circulatory system.
-Physalin which promotes cancer killing cells and can be a natural treatment for hepatitis.
-The polysaccharides are called master molecules. They are complex carbohydrates connected to proteins.
-High levels of beta-carotene
-Used to treat both hot and cold conditions without further exasperating either condition.
-Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBPs), that are considered to be the plants active anti-aging compounds. These compounds, in conjunction with the plant’s other constituents, collectively contain a variety of pharmacological functions including immunoregulative, anti-apoptotic activities, and reducing DNA damage that can help to counter the impact of aging. The LBPs, found in Lycium, are natural amino acids that help counter oxidative stress and aid immune system function.
Immune System: supports immune function, protect immune system from radiation therapy, reduces immune system overactivity, which causes allergies, auto-immune disorders, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease, and improves response to pathogens. Anti-inflammatory- There is a anti-inflammatory enzyme called superoxide dismutase which helps control damage done by free radicals.
Circulatory System: the carotenoids and flavonoids help maintain cardiovascular health and helps us cope with stress and maintain phycological balance. Used for anemia, blood circulation in legs, as a blood cleanser, and supports liver function. Also used in TCM for patterns of Yin and Blood deficiency.
Heart- The antioxidant properties helps prevent heart disease by reducing the oxidation of LDL and increases SOD, preventing bad cholstoral, and improves endothelial function, relaxing and opening constricted blood vessels.
Cancer- Germanium and antioxidant carotenoids and flavonoids protect against cancer growth and helps patients cope with toxic cancer therapies and they saw a higher rate of remission in patients taking goji berries. Goji also helps produce cancer killing cells.
Skeletal / Muscular System- low back or knee pain
Respiratory System- Dry cough.
Nervous System: Energizer that increases endurance, strength and helps alleviate fatigue and promotes faster recovery. Research has found that goji enhances the storage of glycogen which helps boost energy. For the brain it protects against cellular changes that can lead to Alzheimer’s which is the accumulation of toxic beta amyloid in nerve cells. It also protects against neuron death. As well as anxiety, stress, cognitive function, insomnia, tinnitus and depression. Asian cultures call goji the happy berry.
Digestive System– Anti-diabetic & Anti-obesity- The master molecules help balance blood sugar and helps with insulin sensitivity. Goji also helps the body transform food to energy more efficiently so it is not stored as fat.
Reproductive System– known as a aphrodisiac that improves sexual performance and boosts testosterone and improves male infertility.
Integumentary System- Gum and Teeth help- the polysaccharides help form new gum tissues. Eyes-Helps with aging, loss of vision, blurred vision, night vision, protects the ocular nerve and prevent glaucoma. Often caused by Kidney or Liver deficiency.
Endocrine System- hot flashes, induces menses.
***The root is used to cool blood, lowering fever, improving irritability and sweating. And helps those suffering from hypertension.
Goji grows best in rigorous conditions like extremely cold winters and hot summers. It thrives in extreme conditions. This kind of weather makes more stress tolerant properties more bio available to us. The berries grow on a small shrub with purple flowers.There are 23 species in the genus Lycium. However there are only 2 that we commonly use L. barbarum and L. chinense. Goji is also part of the solanaceae family also known as the nightshade family. Other plants in this family include tomatoes, potatoes, Ashwaganda, belladonna, peppers, and mandrake. Although the classic goji berries are native to the East there are several Lycium species that are native to North America. These North American species are utilized as both food and medicine by Southwestern tribes including the Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi
Wolfberry contains betaine, which is a known liver protectant, but can also be used to induce menstruation and abortion, so its use should be avoided by pregnant women. It also has a estrogen mimicking effect.
“The Amazing Benefits of Goji Berries.” The Fountain: 25 Experts Reveal Their Secrets of Health and Longevity from the Fountain of Youth, Basic Health Publications, Laguna Beach, CA, 2009, pp. 152–158.
“Lycium (Goji): East West Healing Academy.” White Rabbit Institute of Healing, 3 May 2021, https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/lycium-goji/.
Gaia Herbs. “Goji.” Gaia Herbs, Gaia Herbs, 30 June 2018, https://www.gaiaherbs.com/blogs/herbs/goji.
Santini, Christina. “The Mighty Goji Berry.” The Nutrition Clinic, The Nutrition Clinic, 17 July 2019, https://christinasantini.com/blog/2017/10/9/the-mighty-goji-berry.
Zhang, Weiguo, et al. “Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects of Chinese Wolfberry.” Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd Edition., edited by Qiutao Gao, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92756/ Accessed Oct. 2022.