The goji berry has been an important herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for more than 2,000 years. The value of this fruit derives from its ability to replenish the yin energy component of liver, kidney, and blood. Modern TCM practitioners still use it for treating a variety of disorders of liver and kidney. It is also a top choice for including in formulas for longevity and for eye health. Goji berry stayed under the radar in the western world until interest in it exploded into popularity at the beginning of the 21st century. Since then it has become available as a juice, as a snack of delicious dried berries (sometimes chocolate-coated), and in a goji berry facial oil. One of the more surprising features about goji berry entails what its botanical relatives are. Scientifically, it is classified in the nightshade family. Other, more well-known members of this family include the potato, tomato, eggplant, deadly nightshade, chili pepper, and tobacco. None of these other species provides the slightest hint of the value that goji berry provides for nutrition and health. The popularity of goji berry has now attracted the notice of modern scientists who are studying its chemical makeup and its potential for influencing different aspects of cellular metabolism. So far research reveals a rich array of natural ingredients that are beginning to explain the underlying health benefits that ancient medical practitioners have known for centuries.
Ingredients of Goji Berry
Dozens of basic components of fruits in general also occur in goji berry. These include a variety of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, sterols, antioxidant phenolics, and carotenoids. Although this list may seem like a bunch of chemical mumbo-jumbo to most people, three characteristics of goji berry chemistry stand out. The first is its vitamin C content. Goji berries contain more vitamin C by weight than any other food on Earth. The second is the carotenoid content. Carotenoids are the colorful antioxidants that include some of the most important nutrients known for healthy eyes and nervous system. Two of the goji carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, are especially valuable in this regard. Indeed, goji berry is one of the richest edible plant sources of zeaxanthin ever discovered. The third chemical characteristic of goji berry is unique to this herb and has attracted the most attention from modern scientists. The ingredient of interest is a goji-specific polysaccharide (a type of complex carbohydrate) that has been shown to enhance the immune system by enabling cells to communicate more effectively. The power of goji berry polysaccharide is comparable to that of the top immune-boosting polysaccharides from maitake mushrooms and echinacea.
Goji Berry Polysaccharide
The most recent research on goji berry polysaccharide directs attention to its traditional importance in purifying blood. In modern terms, this activity refers to effects on excess blood glucose that typifies the development of type 2 diabetes. In 2014 researchers at the Southeast University in Nanjing, China, discovered that goji berry polysaccharide can significantly decrease blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. This result shows a protective effect against the dangers of high blood sugar for diabetics. As a bonus, this study also found that goji berry polysaccharide increases levels of HDL cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with cardiovascular health.
Goji Berry in Natural Skin Care
Recent research has begun to show the protective effects of lutein and zeaxanthin for human skin. In particular, these two carotenoids provide protection against skin damage from UV-light. Lutein and zeaxanthin are normally present in human skin. The human body does not synthesize these compounds, so they have to come from outside sources such as goji berry. Clinical trials have shown that the highest level of antioxidant protection by lutein and zeaxanthin for skin depends on their combined oral and topical use. In other words, combining the consumption of goji berries with their use in skin care products synergizes the power of this herb for skin health.
Jadience Herbal Formulas’ Firming Lotion is a great example of synergizing herbal products that contain goji berry both for internal and external use.