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Wolfberry (Goji) Extract: Benefits, Side Effects & Dosage

Wolfberry (Goji)

What is Wolfberry Extract?

For thousands of years, wolfberry, also called goji berry, has been used to provide strength and stamina while preventing serious illnesses from developing (x). As long ago as 200 BCE there are references in ancient Chinese literature about the benefits of wolfberry. Referred to as kei tze in ancient Chinese and Lycium barbarum in Latin, this small orange berry has been shown to provide support for the kidneys and aid in the overall health of the immune system.

Found most commonly in the areas of Northern China, the wolfberry plant is cultivated from the Lycium barbarum tree specifically for its medicinal properties. In modern times, this tree has been exported to other parts of the world. It now grows commercially in many countries. Credited with its myriad benefits, it is now available internationally for daily consumption.

In addition to its benefits for the immune system, this herb can promote healthy skin, vision and even regulate blood sugar levels. Additional evidence supports wolfberry’s application in improving mood and assisting in circulation.

Wolfberry Extract Benefits

Immune Support

The health properties contained within the wolfberry are thanks to a group of arabinogalactan proteins called LBP’s and AGP’s. These polysaccharide proteins are responsible for the body’s immune response. They occur naturally in many foods and plants. Wolfberry is one of the best-known providers of these proteins.

Wolfberry can deter bacteria and viruses from attaching to liver and organ cell membranes. This prevents these pathogens from having a viable host (x). What’s more, wolfberry is an excellent source of ascorbic acid or vitamin C. Taken as a daily supplement, it can promote overall strength and support for the body’s immune system. In this way, wolfberry can help stave off illness in general.

Antioxidant and Cancer Prevention

Studies have shown that wolfberry can assist in slowing the metastasis of tumors in the liver and other organs (x). As a powerful antioxidant, it helps to disarm and lessen the effect of free radicals (x). Free radicals are often responsible for the cell damage that causes cancer. It is in this role as an antioxidant that wolfberry can help to prevent cancer risk.

Wolfberry fruit polysaccharides have been isolated in laboratory trials as the catalyst for this form of treatment (x). Galacturonic acid was identified as the most concentrated chemical among the polysaccharides in these trials. It was demonstrated that both the slowing of tumor cell growth and the repair of DNA are possible with a hot water extraction of the polysaccharides.

Eye Health

Wolfberry has been used traditionally to strengthen the general health of the eyes. The ability to do so is thanks to its antioxidant properties. A Kansas State University study demonstrated that wolfberry assisted in vision repair for those suffering from type-2 diabetes (x).

Additionally, oxidative stress from free radicals causing damage to the eye can be treated with wolfberry extract. When used in conjunction with known treatments, vision repair can be accelerated and enhanced. To stave off the onset of macular degeneration, wolfberry can be an excellent daily supplement to keep your eyes healthy.

Sexual Health for Men

Wolfberry may also be able to provide stamina and radically improve the sex drive of male subjects.

In animal testing, wolfberry demonstrated a marked elevation in both drive and function (x). The polysaccharides mentioned previously are largely responsible for this response. Potential benefits include an increase in ejaculation frequency and a decreased ejaculation latency. In other words, the ability to perform more often and in closer succession was demonstrated.

Regulating Blood Pressure

The active ingredients of wolfberry have been shown to reduce blood pressure. In lab testing, animals with hypertension showed signs of improvement when given its extract. The active ingredient of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide (LBP) assists in this regulation and could help to prevent and treat hypertension in patients (x).

Taken as a daily supplement, wolfberry may help to reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure later on. For those that have normal blood pressure levels or issues with low blood pressure, please refer to the potential side effects.

Weight Loss

There is also evidence to support the use of wolfberry extract for healthy weight management. The participants in a 2011 study experienced a higher metabolic rate and decreased waist circumference (x). In animal testing, rats also decreased in body mass when taking Lycium barbarum. This is due to the higher level of caloric expenditure due to a higher metabolic rate.

This is good news for those looking for a healthy way to shave off a few pounds. Though this is not the main effect of wolfberry, it is a positive side effect for those hoping to support their weight loss attempt with supplements.

Improved Mood

Additionally, a 2011 pilot study found that wolfberry can trigger an increase in mood (x). When taking it on a daily basis, one might also benefit from a general sense of well-being.

Pilot study subjects demonstrated a higher level of active movement and response while ingesting wolfberry extract. What’s more, they showed signs of alertness and attentiveness to tasks.

Prevention of Diabetes

The prevention and treatment of diabetes has long been associated with wolfberry. The evidence for this might be found in the increase in metabolic rate and caloric expenditure. Because of the increased metabolic rate and weight loss associated with wolfberry, prevention of late onset diabetes might also be in the list of benefits.

Treatment of diabetes should be done under medical supervision, as incorrect management can cause serious health consequences. Consult with a medical professional before adding a supplement to your diet.

Wolfberry (Goji) Benefits

Wolfberry Extract Side Effects

With volumes of literature and clinical trials, the reports of wolfberry are surprisingly positive. That said, there are some minor side effects that could occur with the use of this extract.

It is always a good idea to consult with your physician before trying a new supplement. Minor medical issues can potentially worsen when using wolfberry.

Allergic Reaction

Though rare, wolfberry is capable of causing an allergic reaction. Those individuals who have high risk for food allergies might want to take precaution with wolfberry extract. Clinical observations have indicated those with lipid transfer protein (FTP) allergies can show sensitivity to the berries (x). Though this is not necessarily a medical emergency, if you feel you are susceptible to food allergies you should consult with a physician before beginning a regimen.

Sensitivity to Sunlight (Photosensitivity)

Though rare, some individuals have demonstrated a sensitivity to sunlight when taking wolfberry extract (x). This photosensitivity brought on by the supplement’s use was reversed upon cessation of the ingestion of the extract.

According to this study, this is a rare side effect that has almost no reported cases. If you experience sensitivity to light, consult with a physician before continuing wolfberry extract.

Low Blood Pressure

Though wolfberry can assist in the treatment and prevention of hypertension, for those with a preexisting condition of low blood pressure, take caution.

If you feel you already have low blood pressure, consult with a physician and monitor blood pressure levels closely before beginning a wolfberry extract regimen.

Drug Interactions

There have been rare cases of the wolfberry (goji berry) extract effecting an increase in risk of bleeding when taken with blood thinners.

Additionally, wolfberry (goji berry) extract can interfere with some diabetes medications.

You should consult with your physician before beginning this supplement.

Wolfberry Dosage

For the optimal benefits of wolfberry extract powder as a dietary supplement, take 1,000 mg (rounded ⅓ tsp) once daily. The extract powder easily dissolves in water. Of course, if a medical professional suggests an alternative dosage, it is best to follow his/her instructions (x).

The Bottom Line

With its myriad benefits and applications, wolfberry can support many areas of health. It can not only provide treatment for many known ailments, but it can play a role in preventing some ailments. Taken daily, wolfberry provides all the benefits of vitamin C and more, which assists in strengthening the immune system generally.

Wolfberry may also play a role in shrinking tumors and preventing forms of cancer. Helping to rebuild DNA on a daily basis, it helps to stave off cancerous cells from forming and rebuilds healthy ones.

The benefit of an extract is that it provides a concentrated level of the active ingredients. It also makes ingestion easier. This higher concentration of polysaccharides, in the case of wolfberry, ensures that you get the best results possible. Taken once daily, it carries with it an added punch and efficacy.

With its track record for having few major side effects, wolfberry is one of the safest herbal supplements on file. Easy to ingest and internationally available, it can provide the body with added immune health and improved organ function.

By: David Jacobson

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Kevin Baronowsky

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