Goji, also known as wolfberry, is referenced as Lycii fructus. Although tasty dried and raw, it is traditionally cooked in various Chinese tonic soups, decoctions and teas.
Goji is a good source of vitamins A, B2 and C, fiber, iron, zinc, potatassium, selenium, and calcium and antioxidants It has a very high level of vitamin A, with 1/4 cup providing 3 times the daily need for vitamin A (which is toxic in too-high quantities).
Goji is unusual in that it provides 18 (11 essential) amino acids, such as taurine, l-arginine, and glutamine. It contains 500 times more vitamin C than oranges. It contains more beta-carotene than carrots, and more iron than spinach. It contains zeaxanthin and other carotenoids essential for good vision health. A number of studies indicate that goji protects the macula,8 by increasing zeaxanthin and other antioxidant levels in the blood, and stabilizing drusen formation. Additionally, goji appears to protect retinal nerve cells6 and photoreceptors9, 10 in lab animals. In the latter context, goji may have future application in treating diabetic retinopathy.11
It is an ingredient of Dr. Grossman's Herbal Coleus Ultra Formula, which is designed to support optic nerve health.
Research also suggests that lycii fructus (combined with gingko biloba and polygala tenuifolia) may be helpful in supporting memory and brain functioning.1, 5, 7 In combination with several other herbs it helps supress melanin synthesis in melanoma cells, 2 reduces inflammation, acts as an antioxidant 3, supports normal cholesterol levels4, and supports the immune system, including possibly having an anti-tumor effect.6
While there has been a wide variety of pilot research, there's not enough at this time for it to be clinically recommended. It can interfere with metabolism of the anti-coagulant warfarin, some diabetes drugs, or high blood pressure drugs. And there have been unfounded marketing claims for the fruit.
1. F. Hong, L. Wang, et al, A Review of Three Commonly Used Herbs Which Enhance Memory and New Evidences Which Show Their Combination Could Improve Memory in Young Animals, Mini Reviews in Medical Chemistry, September, 2016.
2. M.K. Kim, C.Y. Ban, et al, Traditional herbal prescription LASAP-C inhibits melanin synthesis in B16F10 melanoma cells and zebrafish, BMC Complementary Alternative Medicine, July, 2016.
3. P. Lam, F. Cheung, et al, Hepatoprotective Effects of Chinese Medicinal Herbs: A Focus on Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Oxidative Activities, International Journal of Molecular Science, March, 2016
4. X.Q. Huo, L.S. Qiao, et al, Virtual screening for natural CETP inhibitors by structure-based pharmacophore, Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi, August, 2015
5. M. Ye, J. Moon, et al, The standardized Lycium chinense fruit extract protects against Alzheimer's disease in 3xTg-AD mice, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, August, 2015
6. J. Cheng, Z.W. Zhou, et al, An evidence-based update on the pharmacological activities and possible molecular targets of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides, Drug Design, Development and Theory, December, 2014
7. Z. Feng, H. Jia, et al, A milk-based wolfberry preparation prevents prenatal stress-induced cognitive impairment of offspring rats, and inhibits oxidative damage and mitochondrial dysfunction in vitro, Neurochemical Research, May, 2010.
8. P. Bucheli, K. Vidal, et al, Goji berry effects on macular characteristics and plasma antioxidant levels, Optometry and Visual Science, February, 2011.
9. Y. Zhu, Q. Zhao, et al, Lycium barbarum polysaccharides attenuates N-methy-N-nitrosourea-induced photoreceptor cell apoptosis in rats through regulation of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase and caspase expression, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, September, 2015
10. B. Pavan, A. Capuzzo, et al, High glucose-induced barrier impairment of human retinal pigment epithelium is ameliorated by treatment with Goji berry extracts through modulation of cAMP levels, Experimental Eye Research, March, 2014.
11. M.K. Song, N.K. Salam, et al, Lycium barbarum (Goji Berry) extracts and its taurine component inhibit PPAR-_-dependent gene transcription in human retinal pigment epithelial cells: Possible implications for diabetic retinopathy treatment, Biochemical Pharmocolory, November, 2011.