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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WHAT IS WOLFBERRY? GOJI BERRY: MEDICINAL BENEFITS AND USES OF WOLFBERRY


WOLFBERRY, GOJI BERRY, LYCIUM BARBARUM
Perhaps this berry is best known as the goji berry, a red berry that has been hailed as one of nature’s superfruits along with the cranberry and pomegranate, among others. The Latin name, Lycium barbarum, means the thorn from Lycia which was an ancient city in what is now the southern Anatolian region of modern Turkey. It gets its name “wolfberry” from the fact that lycos in Greek means wolf (although it is lupus in Latin), so wolfberry is a misnomer. The plant originated in southeastern Europe and Asia, notably in Tibet and China, around the Himalayan region. Whether or not it comes from the Himalayan region or Tibet, it is often sold under the name, Himalayan or Tibetan goji berry.
   It was introduced into Britain by the Duke of Argyll sometime during the 1730s and is known as The Duke of Argyll’s Tea Tree. Now it grows wild in southern counties of England and is sold legally in Britain as it has been eaten for almost 300 years there.
    You usually buy it in the dried form and it is good in a tisane combined with the root bark. It is usually cooked before eating and is a useful addition to sweet rice dishes instead or as well as sultanas. It is rather like a raisin in texture, and has that kind of chewy consistency.
  At the beginning of the 21st century the Himalayan goji berry was hailed as a superfruit and has since been sold as a health food and as a dietary supplement. It contains vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin of the B-complex group), E, minerals including iron, potassium, zinc, phosphorous, calcium and selenium as well as bioflavonoids and carotenoids such as zeaxanthin. It contains more vitamin C than an orange per serving and so helps to strengthen the immune system. It also has the essential amino acids and fatty acids, and the polysaccharides it contains help to maintain normal blood pressure levels. Both beta-carotene and zeaxanthin which help to protect the retina in the eye by absorbing blue light, and this may decrease the risk of macular degeneration, in much the same way as wimberries do.
Wolfberry flower
   The bioflavonoid Betaine calms nervousness, enhances muscular growth and helps the liver function. Physalin is active against all types of leukaemia and this is also in goji or wolfberries. It is also used in the treatment of Hepatitis B. Solavetivane is a powerful anti-fungal and anti-bacterial compound while Beta-Sitoserol is an anti-inflammatory used to treat impotence and prostate enlargement, and it is this combined with the potent antioxidant activities of the berry that has given it the reputation for enhancing the libido and being an aphrodisiac. Cyperone, a sesquiterpene is good for the heart, normalizes blood pressure and may help in the treatment of cervical cancer.
Dried Wolfberry
   It is claimed that the ripe fruit is a tonic, boosts sperm production and benefits the complexion, as well as helping the liver and kidneys to function well. It also demonstrates some anti-cancer activity and improves blood circulation. The Beta-carotene helps to prevent the skin from becoming sun damaged and it has been touted as a great way to keep a young-looking skin and slow the aging process.
   This fruit has been used for 6,000 years in the Indian subcontinent, China and Tibet to protect the liver, improve sexual performance and health, improve vision strengthen the legs and to increase longevity.
   The root bark is used to lower the body’s temperature in fevers, regulate high blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels. It has the reputation of being good for coughs and colds as well as being used as a diuretic and purgative. A tonic tisane is made from the leaves and is used also to stop genital itching.
Wolfberry plant
    Goji berries are expensive though, but if you live where they grow wild, you could do worse than to go and forage for the berries and then dry them during the autumn months.

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