Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum): Composition and Health Effects - A Review

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DOI: 10.1515/pjfns-2015-0040
Cite this publication
Goji berries contain many nutrients and bioactive compounds which allowed to classify them as superfruits. A short description of the fruits is presented together with cultivation requirements. The chemical composition of the berries and their health-promoting properties are described later in this literature review. Based on the available data, their potentially beneficial application in dietary prevention of diseases of affluence, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, is elaborated. We also refer to the safety of Goji consumption in the context of ingredients potentially harmful for human health, allergic reactions and the interactions with other substances. © 2016 Bartosz Kulczyński et al., published by De Gruyter Open.
Pol. J.Food Nutr. Sci., 2016, Vol. 66, No. 2, pp. 0–0
DOI: 10.1515/pjfns-2015-0040
Review article
Section: Nutritional Research
© Copyright by Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences
© 2016 Author(s). This is an open access article licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
The rapid increase in diseases of prosperity has led to
more intensi ed research into substances contributing to
their prevention and treatment. Results ofmany investiga-
tions showed that life style changes, such as awell-balanced
diet and physical exercise, may effectively prevent the oc-
currence ofmany diseases [Amagase & Farnsworth, 2011;
Amani & Gill, 2013; Batcagan-Abueg etal., 2013; Gramza-
-Michałowska et al., 2011; Gramza-Michałowska, 2014;
Marrazzo et al., 2014; Shashirakha et al., 2015]. Based on
thecurrent analysis of food, as well as clinical and epide-
miological research, scientists are searching for products
characterized by better health-promoting properties. Raw
materials that can be used for the production of properly
engineered food are also being investigated [Ahmad et al.,
2015; Hęś etal., 2011; Kmiecik etal., 2015]. Bioactive food
isan emerging eld inthecontext ofhealth andnutrition.
Many people andassociations have de ned its importance.
However, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) has
proposed the most accurate de nition of the bioactive in-
gredients of food: “Bioactive food components are physi-
ologically active constituents infoods or dietary supplements
derived from both animal andplant sources, including those
needed to meet basic human nutrition needs, that have been
demonstrated to have arole inhealth andto besafe for hu-
man consumption” [Saldanha, 2004]. Carotenoids, avo-
noids, iso avones, phytoestrogens, sterols, stanols, vitamins
andchemical elements, ber, fatty acids, probiotics andpre-
biotics as well as bioactive peptides are constituents ofbioac-
* Corresponding Author: Tel.: +4861 8487331, Fax: +4861 8487430
E-mail: bartosz.kulczynski@up.poznan.pl (B.Kulczyński)
tive food [Guine etal., 2010; Milner, 2004; Hęś etal., 2011;
Reguła & Gramza-Michałowska, 2013; Sharma & Singh,
2010]. Research showed that bioactive compounds offood
origin may ful ll many health-promoting functions inthehu-
man organism [Astrup etal., 2010; Castro etal., 2005; Cho
et al., 2013; Kris-Etherton etal., 2002; Liu, 2013; Meydani
& Hasan, 2010; Moller etal., 2008; Morimoto et al., 2012;
Reguła & Gramza-Michałowska, 2010; Srinath & Katan,
2004]. They may lower cholesterol levels andblood pressure,
enhance theimmune system, regulate blood glucose levels
andhormonal balance, help inthereduction ofweight, slow
down theageing processes andcounteract cancer.
Goji produces an ellipsoid orange-red berry approxi-
mately 2 cm deep with a sweet-and-tangy avor. The Goji
berry isthefruit ofL. barbarum and
L. chinense inthefamily
Solanaceae that ranges from tomato andpotato to eggplant.
Theauthor ofthespecies name, L. barbarum, was Carl Lin-
naeus in1753, whereas L. chinese was named 15years later
byPhilip Miller. Itisalso known as Chinese wolfberry, pos-
sibly because Chinese farmers observed wolves eating these
berries. L. barbarum andL. chinense are native to Asia, pri-
marily inthecentral north region called Ningxia Hui Autono-
mous Region. Inaddition, commercial volumes ofwolfberries
grow intheChinese regions ofXinjiang, Shaanxi, Gansu, He-
bei, Inner Mongolia, andalso inJapan, Korea, andTaiwan.
China, the main supplier of wolfberry, yields 95,000 tones
ofGoji fruits, derived from 82,000hectares. Goji berries have
been an important part oftraditional Chinese medicine for
more than 2000 years due to their rich chemical composi-
tion andmedical properties. As afood, dried wolfberries are
traditionally cooked before consumption, used as herbal tea,
Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum): Composition andHealth Effects – aReview
Bartosz Kulczyński*, Anna Gramza-Michałowska
Faculty ofFood Science andNutrition, Poznań University ofLife Sciences, Wojska Polskiego 31, 60–624Poznań, Poland
Key words: goji berries, Lycium barbarum, bioactive compounds, antioxidants, polyphenols, health bene ts
Goji berries contain many nutrients andbioactive compounds which allowed to classify them as superfruits. Ashort description ofthefruits ispre-
sented together with cultivation requirements. Thechemical composition oftheberries andtheir health-promoting properties are described later inthis
literature review. Based on theavailable data, their potentially bene cial application indietary prevention ofdiseases ofaf uence, such as diabetes,
cardiovascular diseases andcancer, iselaborated. We also refer to thesafety ofGoji consumption inthecontext ofingredients potentially harmful for
human health, allergic reactions andtheinteractions with other substances.
0 Goji Berries inNutrition
as well as in Chinese soups, or in combination with meat
andvegetarian meals. Goji fruits are also used for thepro-
duction ofjuice, wine andtincture [Gross, 2006; Amagase &
Farnsworth, 2011; Benzie & Wachtel-Galor, 2011; Potterat,
2010]. Goji isaplant introduced to Europe inthe18th cen-
tury [Sopher, 2013]. L. barbarum prefers well-drained slightly
alkaline soils [Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, 2013], andsunny
locations. Germination temperature is21–23°C, whereas for
L. barbarum this is15–25°C andisresistant to low tempera-
tures, rst fruition however istypically observed in3-year-old
plants [Dominion Seed House, 2013; Marczyński & Pio-
trowski, 2013].
Goji berries are not without reason termed a“superfruit”.
Wolfberries contain many nutrients with high biological activ-
ity, such as polysaccharide complexes, carotenoids, phenyl-
propanoids andothers, as characterized below. Thepolysac-
charide complex isthemost important andthemost abundant
group ofcompounds present inGoji fruits. They are present
in the water-soluble form of highly branched L. barbarum
Polysaccharides (LBP) with amolecular weight of8–214kDa,
and comprise 5–8% of the
total dry matter of the fruits.
Their composition includes six types of monosaccharides:
arabinose, rhamnose, xylose, mannose, galactose, glucose,
galacturonic acid and eighteen amino acids [Amagase &
Farnsworth, 2011]. Research ofdos Reis etal. [2014] showed
that goji berries fermentation yielded 87% sugars decrease
within 24h, without losses inpolyphenol content, however
carotenoid content was reduced by17%. Carotenoids pres-
ent inGoji are thesecond highly signi cant group ofbiolog-
ically-active constituents with health promoting properties.
They are responsible for thecharacteristic orange-red color
of the berries. They comprise 0.03–0.5% of the dry matter
ofthefruits (Table 1). Zeaxanthin isone ofthemost common
carotenoids present inGoji (31–56% ofthetotal carotenoid
pool). Itispresent intheform ofdipalmitin zeaxanthin. Goji
isconsidered thebest natural source ofdipalmitin zeaxanthin
known so far. Beta-carotene, neoxanthin, cryptoxanthin are
also present at lower concentrations [Peng etal., 2005; Wang
etal., 2010]. Phenylpropanoids are bioactive compounds with
avery high antioxidant capacity. Analysis oftheantioxidant
activity and phenylpropanoids in different medicinal Chi-
nese herbs has con rmed thepresence ofthese constituents
inGoji berry at thelevel of22.7mg (gallic acid equivalent/g
extract) [Guo et al., 2008]. A comparison of the phenolic
pro le andvitamin C content ofGoji berry fruit ispresented
inTable2. Wang etal. [2010] isolated andmeasured thelev-
els ofindividual avonoid fractions. Themost common were
quercetin-3-O-rutinoside, kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside, chlo-
rogenic acid, caffeic acids andsmall amounts ofcaffeoylquin-
ic acid andp-coumaric acid [Zhong etal. 2013]. Goji berries
contain 1.0–2.7% offree amino acids, with themost abun-
dant being proline. Thepresence oftaurine andbetaine has
also been con rmed [Potterat, 2010]. Additional compounds
present inGoji fruits are: vitamins, such as thiamin, ribo a-
vin, andascorbic acid with its glucosidic precursor (2-O-β-D-
-glucopyranosyl). Theconcentration ofvitamin C was found
at 42mg/100g [Donno et al., 2015]. Llorent-Martínez etal.
[2013] con rmed the presence of many mineral elements,
themost common ofwhich were potassium (1460mg/100g),
sodium (550mg/100g), phosphorus (184mg/100g), magne-
sium (90g/100g) andcalcium (50mg/100g). Interestingly,
theiron concentration of5.5mg/100g ishigh inrespect to Di-
etary Reference Intake (DRI). Goji also contains organic ac-
ids, such as citric acid, malic acid, fumaric acid andshikimic
acid [Mikulic-Petkovsek etal., 2012]. Themost common fatty
acids are: palmitic acid, linoleic acid andmyristic acid. Ac-
cording to literature, Goji berries provide 370kcal/100g dried
fruits [Gross, 2006].
Hypoglycemic properties
Many experiments have been performed inorder to un-
derstand how Goji acts on the way the body handles car-
bohydrates. Luo et al. [2004] have investigated thecorrela-
tion between supplementation with different polysaccharide
fractions of Goji fruit and the levels of glucose in blood.
Theeffects ofL. barbarum preparations inalloxan-induced
diabetic rabbits have been investigated bymeasuring ablood
glucose level. Decreased blood glucose levels (3.9mmol/L)
were recognized as substantial hypoglycemic effects. Results
oftheexperiment were unambiguous. Itwas found that all
Goji preparations resulted in signi cantly decreased blood
glucose levels after 10days oftreatment inthetested animals,
indicating that there was asubstantial hypoglycemic effect.
Moreover, thehypoglycemic effect ofpuri ed polysaccharide
fractions was more signi cant than those ofwater decoction
andcrude polysaccharide fractions, implying that L. barbarum
polysaccharides were major bioactive components inthehy-
poglycemic effect. Guowen etal. [2010] performed asimilar
experiment andthe
results were propitious. Mice treated with
L. barbarum extracts were characterized bysigni cantly re-
duced blood glucose levels compared to thediabetic control
group. Many experiments con rm diabetes iscorrelated with
high oxidative stress. Hyperglycemia–induced oxidative stress
TABLE 1. Composition ofbioactive carotenoid fractions ingoji berries
(Lycium barbarum).
Wang etal. [2010] Inbaraj etal. [2008]
13- or 13’-cis-β-carotene
(8.97mg/g), all-trans-
-β-carotene (16.6mg/g),
9- or 9’-cis-β-carotene
(10.3mg/g), neoxanthin
(13.2mg/g), all-trans-β-
cryptoxanthin (53.3mg/g),
9- or 9’-cis-β-
-cryptoxanthin (5.61mg/g),
9- or 9’-cis-zeaxanthin
(39.3mg/g), 13- or 13’-cis-
zeaxanthin (4.85mg/g),
15- or 15’–cis-zeaxanthin
(32.8mg/g), all-trans-
zeaxanthin (1326mg/g)
(1.4μg/g), all-trans-β-
-carotene (23.7μg/g),
zeaxanthin monopalmitate
zeaxanthin dipalmitate
B.Kulczyński & A.Gramza-Michałowska 0
may beimplied indiabetes onset. Theeffect ofL. barbarum
treatment on antioxidative protective mechanisms has been
investigated in streptomycin-induced diabetic rat kidneys.
Theantioxidative activity ofsuperoxide dismutase, catalase
andglutathione was signi cantly increased after Goji poly-
saccharide fractions treatment. Moreover, free radical scav-
enging activity was also elevated [Li, 2007]. Another experi-
ment con rmed theincreased activity ofantioxidant enzymes
in kidneys, lungs and liver of polysaccharide fractions-fed
mice. Moreover, thesame experiment revealed that animals
on high-fat diets supplemented with polysaccharide fractions
had statistically lower levels ofglucose, compared to mice on
high-fat diets only [Ming etal., 2009].
Theeffect ofpolysaccharide fractions supplemented high-
fat diet has been analyzed inmice inorder to evaluate its im-
pact on total cholesterol, its LDL andHDL fractions andtri-
glyceride levels. Mice administered polysaccharide fractions
supplemented high-fat diets were characterized bydecreased
concentrations oftotal cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol andtri-
glycerides and increased HDL-cholesterol concentrations
compared to mice on high-fat diets without polysaccharide
fractions [Li, 2007]. Cui et al. [2011] obtained identical re-
sults. Pai et al. [2013] performed similar experiments with
rats on high-fat diets. Two groups of animals were tested,
acontrol group (normal diet) andagroup on high-fat diets
supplemented with hypoglycemic drug-statin (Atorvastatin).
The results are consistent with previous
ndings. Polysac-
charide fractions supplementation caused adecrease intotal
cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol fraction and triglyceride con-
centration compared to therats on thecontrol high-fat diet.
Moreover, the polysaccharide fractions-supplemented rats
were characterized bystatistically lower triglyceride andsta-
tistically higher HDL-cholesterol concentrations compared to
theatorvastatin-treated rats [Pai etal., 2013]. Guowen etal.
[2010] performed an alternative analysis where the effect
ofthepolysaccharide fractions supplementation on thedia-
betic mice lipid pro le was evaluated. Thegroup ofanimals
supplemented with Goji extract had signi cantly lower con-
centrations oftriglycerides andtotal cholesterol compared to
thediabetic control group. Zhao etal. [2005] obtained simi-
lar results con rming thehypothesis that Goji polysaccharide
fractions supplementation has apositive effect on the lipid
pro le of rats through decreasing total cholesterol and tri-
glyceride concentrations. Luo et al. [2004] performed an
experiment with alloxan-induced diabetic rabbits andfound
that polysaccharide fractions supplementation resulted
inahypolipemic effect andasimultaneous increase in
-cholesterol concentrations. Then, Cheng etal. [2011] investi-
gated changes inthelipid pro le ofpolysaccharide fractions-
supplemented rats with alcohol defects oftheliver andfound
much lower levels oftriglycerides, total cholesterol andLDL-
-cholesterol fraction, andasimultaneously increased HDL-
-cholesterol concentration.
TABLE 2. Phenolic pro le andvitamin C content ofGoji berry (Lycium barbarum) fruit.
Chemical compound
(mg/100g fw)
Donno etal. [2015]
(mg/g ext)
Wang etal. [2010]
(μg/g pm)
Mocan etal. [2014]
Cinnamic acids Caffeic acid 110.84 3.73 < 0.02
Chlorogenic acid 113.18 12.40 5899.29
Coumaric acid 111.32 6.06 30.29
Ferulic acid 125.80 n.e. < 0.02
Flavonols Hyperoside 116.27 n.e. n.e.
Isoquercitrin n.d. n.e. < 0.02
Quercetin n.d. n.e. 5.59
Quercetin-diglycoside 66.00 n.e.
Quercitrin n.d. n.e. 13.00
Rutin n.d. 42.00 5646.66
Kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside 11.30 n.d.
Benzoic acids Ellagic acid n.d. n.e. n.e.
Gallic acid 15.31 n.e. n.e.
Catechins Catechin 118.76 n.e. n.e.
Epicatechin 229.18 n.e. n.e.
Ellagitannins Castalagin n.d. n.e. n.e.
Vescalagin n.d. n.e. n.e.
Vitamin Vitamin C 48.94
fw – fresh weight; ext – extract; pm – plant material; n.d. – not detected; n.e. – not evaluated
0 Goji Berries inNutrition
Traditional Chinese medicine has utilized compounds pres-
ent inGoji fruits to prevent theonset andprogression ofcancer.
Goji also exhibits immunostimulatory activity. Ithas been con-
rmed inmany tests that compounds present inGoji berries
have pro-apoptotic andantiproliferative activity against cancer
cells [Tang etal., 2012]. Gan etal. [2004] con rmed that Goji
polysaccharide fractions could signi cantly inhibit thegrowth
oftransplantable sarcoma inmice, moreover increased mac-
rophage phagocytosis andantibody secretion byspleen cells.
Furthermore, spleen lymphocyte proliferation was enhanced
in comparison with the af icted control group. It was also
found that Goji polysaccharide fractions could signi cantly
reduce lipid peroxidation in mice and inhibit proliferation
ofliver cancer cells [Zhang etal., 2005]. Mao etal. [2011] also
showed theanticancer properties ofpolysaccharide fractions.
They proved theanticancer effect ofL. barbarum polysaccha-
rides on colon cancer cells through G0/G1phase arrest. Zhu
& Zhang [2013] also con rmed the antiproliferative activity
Goji polysaccharide fractions against HeLa cells, probably
through induction ofapoptosis. Zhang et al. [2011a,b] also
observed asimilar effect. They found that theanticancer effect
ofGoji berry was attributed to 2-O-(beta-D-glucopyranosyl)
ascorbic acid. Goji fruits are also asource ofscopoletin. Ithas
been proven that scopoletin induces inhibition ofhuman pros-
tate cancer cell proliferation (PC-3) [Liu etal., 2000]. Amagase
with cooworkers [2009b] investigated theeffect ofGoji juice
on healthy Chinese adults. Lymphocyte, interleukin- 2 (IL-2)
andimmunoglobulin G levels inthetreated group were signi -
cantly higher than those intheplacebo group. Gan etal. [2003]
observed activation oftheimmune system components through
the administration of a L. barbarum polysaccharide-protein
complex that increased theexpression ofinterleukin-2andtu-
mor necrosis factor-alpha at both mRNA and protein lev-
els in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Glycans
andglycoconjugates present inGoji exert astimulatory effect
on theexpression ofNF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-
enhancer ofactivated B cells) andtheactivator protein 1(AP-1)
[Peng et al., 2001]. Chen et al. [2008] con rmed activation
NF-κB andAP-1through L. barbarum polysaccharides. They
claimed that isolated fractions ofLBP affected theproliferation
ofT cells andenhanced production ofInterleukin 2andInter-
feron gamma (IFNγ).
Aprotective property ofGoji extracts on retina cells has
been proved intheearly stage ofthedegeneration ofthereti-
na. Itis
proposed that absorbing thelight zeaxanthin andlu-
teolin present in Goji fruit displays an inhibitory effect on
neuron apoptosis [Ni etal., 2013]. Yu etal. [2013] proved that
bioactive compounds present inL. barbarum enhance theex-
pression of zeaxanthin and luteolin genes in diabetic mice.
Itispostulated that inhibited expression ofthese genes can
cause hyperglycemia. Thus, Goji berries display neuroprotec-
tive properties on adiabetic animal’s retina. Theneuroprotec-
tive effect ofpolysaccharide fractions on theretinal ganglion
cells (RGC) inrats with high intraocular pressure (IOP) also
contributes to theprevention ofglaucoma [Chiu etal., 2010].
Tang et al. [2011] and Hu et al. [2012] also con rmed its
protective in uence on diabetic retinal injury. Theprotective
property ofL. barbarum extract on human retina neuron cells
has also been demonstrated [Shen etal., 2012]. Itissuggested
that Goji extract containing taurine may inhibit theprogress
ofdiabetic retinopathy [Song etal., 2011].
FIGURE 1. ORAC values for antioxidant activity ofdifferent fruits
ORAC – Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity; H-ORAC – hydrophilic for water soluble antioxidants ORAC value; L-ORAC – lipophilic for lipid
soluble antioxidants ORAC value; TE – Trolox equivalents; compilation ofresults [USDA, 2010].
Goji berry
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000
ORAC (μmol TE/100g)
B.Kulczyński & A.Gramza-Michałowska 0
Chemical analysis ofGoji berry con rmed its high anti-
oxidative activity. Based on the current analysis it was con-
cluded that L. barbarum displays scavenging activity against
free radicals (superoxide anion, hydroxyl radicals). Goji anti-
oxidative activity ismainly attributed to carotenoid pigments,
avonoids, polysaccharide fraction and vitamin analog –
C-2-O-(beta-D-glucopyranosyl) ascorbic acid [Guo et al.,
2008; Jiang, 2014; Li & Zhou, 2007; Lin et al., 2009; Wang
et al., 2010; Zhang etal., 2011a,b]. One ofthewidely used
markers ofantioxidant potential isORAC value (TheOxygen
Radical Absorbance Capacity) [Gramza-Michałowska & Kor-
czak, 2013]. ORAC offresh berries was found to besimilar to
cherry or red currant [USDA, 2010]. Acomparison ofORAC
values for the antioxidant activity of goji berries and other
fruits ispresented in Figure 1. ORAC assay results for fruits
represent its antioxidant value, not proportionally however for
thehuman body, because ofthebioactive compounds absorp-
tion and metabolism. The effect of L. barbarum extract on
theoxidative stress induced inliver ofrats on high-fat diets
was investigated. Changes in
theliver tissue levels ofmalondi-
aldehyde (MDA), glutathione, as well as activity ofantioxidant
enzymes (superoxide dismutase, catalase andglutathione per-
oxidase) andoxygen radical absorbance capacity were used as
biomarkers oftheprotective effect ofL. barbarum used as adi-
etary supplement. Thedecreased MDA level used as amarker
oflipid peroxidation was observed inanimals on high-fat di-
ets supplemented with L. barbarum. Furthermore, increased
concentrations ofglutathione andantioxidant enzyme activi-
ties were evaluated [Cui etal., 2011]. Theprotective effect of
L.barbarum extract on rats with alcohol-induced liver necrosis
was investigated byCheng & Kong [2011]. Results showed
that animals supplemented with Goji fruits extract exhibited
decreased activity ofalanine aminotransferase (ALT) andas-
partate transaminase (AST), biomarkers of liver damage.
Moreover, adecreased MDA concentration andasigni cant
increase inantioxidant enzyme activity SOD, CAT, GPx andin-
creased glutathione levels characterized rats supplemented
with L. barbarum extract. Shan etal. [2011] analyzed thein u-
ence ofGoji fruit polysaccharides on oxidative stress induced
by physical activity. The L. barbarum supplemented-group
was characterized bya
decreased MDA content andhigher
levels ofSOD andGPX, which con rmed protection against
oxidative stress caused byphysical activity. Li etal. [2007] per-
formed an interesting experiment on mice supplemented with
polysaccharide fraction andanalyzed oxidative stress caused
by ageing. They observed increased activity of endogenous
antioxidant systems (SOD, CAT, GSH-Px), decreased levels
oflipid peroxidation markers (MDA) andincreased total anti-
oxidative capacity intheorgans ofanimals (lungs, liver, heart,
andbrain) supplemented with polysaccharide fraction ofGoji
berries [Li et al., 2007]. Then, Xiao et al. [2012] con rmed
that this fraction exhibited liver-protective properties against
thehepatotoxic oxidative stress inducer carbon tetrachloride.
Reduced liver necrosis rates, increased activity ofendogenous
antioxidant system, anddecreased lipid peroxidation expressed
as MDA level were measured. Responses ofhumans supple-
mented with Goji juice exhibited similar patterns (increased
activity ofantioxidant enzymes SOD andGSH-Px, andde-
creased lipid peroxidation) [Amagase et al., 2009a; Bucheli
etal. 2011]. Wu etal. [2004] con rmed thescavenging activity
against superoxide anions andinhibition oflipid peroxidation.
Huang et al. [2001] also proved theantioxidative properties
of L. barbarum. They showed that glycoconjugates present
inGoji berries inhibit peroxidation ofLDL-cholesterol frac-
tion. Goji berries antioxidant capacity parameters evaluated
with several methods were presented inTable 3.
Wolfberries have attracted rapidly growing attention for
their documented nutrient value, which has led to aprofusion
ofconsumer products. Goji products can bebought inhealth
food stores inEurope andNorth America, andare advertised
as natural mood boosters with anti-ageing properties. There-
ported health-promoting biological effects of L. barbarum
indeed justify theterm “superfruit”. While Goji berries have
many health bene ts, there are some side effects that consum-
ers need to beaware of(thepresence oftoxic substances, risk
ofallergies andinteractions with other medications).
The controversially high content of atropine (0.95%),
toxic alkaloid naturally present in Goji fruit, was tested
in berries from India in 1989. However, published case re-
ports do not describe people who have experienced atropine
poisoning [Harsh, 1989]. Adams etal. [2006] carefully tested
atropine levels bymeans ofHPLC-PAD andTLC methods.
They were not able to detect atropine. Using HPLC-MS,
asmall amount ofatropine was found, with amaximum con-
tent of19ppb, well below atoxic level.
Allergic reactions to Goji berries rarely occur and only
afew cases have been described. Monzón Ballarín etal. [2011]
described the rst two cases ofpatients who experienced al-
lergic symptoms after Goji berry consumption. First woman
developed anaphylaxis after eating Goji berries, accompanied
byacute generalized urticaria on thehands, palms andlips,
edema, dyspnea, andacute rhinitis; andsecond who reported
generalized urticaria, severe pruritus andskin lesions (hives),
TABLE 3. Goji antioxidant capacity parameters evaluated with several
Henning etal.
Mocan etal.
[μg TE/mg]
[μg QE/mg]
[mg GAE/g]
dos Reis etal.
[mg GAE/g]
Donno etal.
TEAC – Trolox Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity; FRAP – Ferric Reduc-
ing Antioxidant Potential; DPPH – 2,2’-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl; TPC
– Total Polyphenol Content; QE – Quercetin equivalents; TE – Trolox
equivalents; GAE – Gallic Acid Equivalents
0 Goji Berries inNutrition
angioedema, and dysphagia after Goji berry consumption.
Theskin prick tests were positive for Goji berry. Additional
tests con rmed an allergy to Goji berries inboth cases. Lipid
transfer proteins (LTPs) seem to beinvolved inallergic sensi-
tization to L. barbarum berries, andresults have demonstrated
ahigh degree ofcross-reactivity between Goji berry andpeach
andtomato [Carnes etal., 2013; Larramendi etal., 2012].
Three published case reports have described patients who
experienced interactions between Goji berry andwarfarin, an
anticoagulant drug. An elevated International Normalized
Ratio (INR) was observed inpatients after drinking Goji tea
and juice, previously stabilized on anticoagulation therapy,
also increased bleeding from rectum andnose was observed
[Lam etal., 2001; Leung etal., 2008; Rivera etal., 2012]. Pos-
sible interactions between Goji andprescription medications
are still unknown, thus therisks ofwolfberries should betaken
into consideration inindividuals who take medications with
anarrow therapeutic index.
Goji berry is well-known in traditional Chinese medicine
andhas been utilized as an important element ofahealth-pro-
moting diet for hundreds ofyears. Recently, there has been rap-
idly growing attention surrounding wolfberries inthe
world. Health food stores provide arich variety ofGoji products,
such as dried fruits, tea, beer, juice, sweets, musli andsupple-
ments [Potterat, 2010]. L. barbarum isaplant that could becul-
tivated inEurope. Themain aim ofthis review was to gather
andpresent state oftheart data regarding thehealth-promoting
properties ofGoji fruits. Goji berry isasource ofmany bioactive
compounds, characterized byhigh antioxidant potential. Goji
fruits with awide spectrum ofbiological effects have numerous
implied health effects. Wolfberry may be an effective supple-
ment inprophylaxis ofdiseases ofaf uence, such as diabetes,
cardiovascular diseases andcancer. Goji isasafe food supple-
ment, free from toxins; however, it can cause allergies; thus,
therisks should betaken into consideration inindividuals with
food allergies, due to thehigh degree ofcross-reactivity between
wolfberry andpeach andtomato. On thegrounds ofharmful
herb-drug interactions that enhance drug performance, an an-
ticoagulation therapy (warfarin) isacontra-indication to use
Goji berry and
any product containing wolfberry. Themajority
ofpublished studies have used animal models inexperiments.
Theresults have been very optimistic andpromising. However,
additional research must bedone with agreater number ofex-
periments involving alarger number ofanimals, as well as ex-
periments involving human subjects.
Financial support by the UE Project no. PO IG–061/09 “Bioactive Food” isgreatly appreciated.
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  • ... This bioactive molecule of goji berry consists of a complex mixture of glycoconjugates, with a wide interval of molecular weights (10-2, 300 kDa), which is soluble in water (in our study we used only water) and contains a carbohydrate portion (≥90%) [48,49]. Goji berries possess properties that promote many pharmacological activities because of their polysaccharide content, including antioxidant and antiaging effects, increased metabolism, immune system regulation, neuroprotective properties, reduction of cardiovascular diseases, as well as antidiabetic, antiglaucoma anticancer, and immunomodulatory effects [45,[50][51][52][53]. According to the literature, ultrasound-enhanced subcritical water is the most effective medium for extraction of polysaccharides from Lycium barbarum and it has been reported that is the most effective way to use dried goji berries. ...
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    The importance of natural crops in medicine and pharmacy is growing. Beside bioactive compounds used directly as therapeutic agents, there are also raw materials used for drug synthesis or as a basic model for new biologically active compounds. In this paper, the optimum conditions for material extraction of Curcuma longa, Lycium barbarum, Equisetum arvense, Vitis vinifera, and Rosmarinus officinalis were investigated to achieve high antioxidant levels. The main aim of this study was to verify the correlation between the content of antioxidants, proanthocyanidins and total phenolic substances for certain extracts from the raw materials (Curcuma longa, Lycium barbarum, Equisetum arvense, Vitis vinifera and Rosmarinus officinalis) and the reduction of the metabolic activity of skin cancer cells.
  • ... Due to its health promoting properties, and phytochemical contents (phenolic acids, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, iridoids, coumarins, hydrolysable tannins, carotenoids, and anthocyanins) which are endowed with antioxidant properties, this food has been included among the exotic fruits that provide beneficial properties in human beings, hence deserving the term of superfruit [3]. On the one hand, several studies have attributed various functions to this fruit such as hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, protective towards retina cells, immunostimulatory, and anticancer which makes this fruit suitable for the diet of patients affected by different health problems [4,5]. Recently, the peculiar and healthy characteristics of this fruit has incentivated the increased consumption of GBs in Western Europe. ...
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    The goji berry (Lycium barbarum L.) (GB) is gaining increasing attention with high consumption worldwide due to its exceptional nutritional value and medicinal benefits displayed in humans. Beyond their beneficial properties, GBs contain renowned allergenic proteins, and therefore deserve inclusion among the allergenic foods capable of inducing allergic reactions in sensitive consumers. GB allergy has been frequently linked to the panallergen lipid transfer protein (LTP), especially across the population of the Mediterranean area. Methods: In this study, we investigated the protein profile of GBs focusing on the most reactive proteins against immunoglobulins E (IgE) of allergic patients’ sera, as ascertained by immunoblot experiments. The protein spots displaying a clear reaction were excised, in-gel digested, and analyzed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) followed by data searching against a restricted database for a reliable protein identification. Results: According to our data, three main spots were identified in GB extract as IgE binding proteins after immunoblot analysis. Some major proteins were identified and the three proteins that provided the highest reactivity were putatively attributed to vicilin and legumin proteins followed by a protein matching with 11S globulin belonging to the cupin superfamily. Finally, the whole GB protein extract was also submitted to bottom-up proteomics followed by a software-based database (DB) screening and a more exhaustive list of GB proteins was compiled.
  • ... In folk medicine goji berry has been used for many benefits and life-improving effect in China (Gündüz et al., 2015). In addition goji berry has been reported in studies that it can increase muscle mass, prevent fatty liver, effective in regulating blood pressure, strengthening the immune system, balancing blood sugar, anti-tumor effect, effective in alzheimer's disease, preventing loss of vision, aphrodisiac effect, anti-cancer, lowering cholesterol, anti-bacterial, anti-fungus, effective against leukemia, memory enhancer and effective in the treatment of digestive difficulty (Cheng et al. 2005;Zhao et al., 2005;Luo et al., 2006;Amagase & Hsu, 2009;Ming et al., 2009;Ueland et al., 2010;Mao et al., 2011;Ranjbar et al., 2012;Pop et al., 2013;Lee et al., 2014;Wang et al., 2015;Zhang et al., 2015;Kulczynski & Gramza-Michalowska, 2016). ...
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    In this study effects of dietary goji berry (LyciumbarbarumL.) leaf (GBL) meal on egg rate, feed intake, egg yield and mass, feed conversion ratio, external and internal egg quality and egg yolk cholesterol level of laying hens were investigated. A total of 55 Lohman Brown laying hens aged 48 weeks were used. The birds were fed with basal diet supplemented with 1 g/kg (GBL1), 5 g/kg (GBL5), 10 g/kg (GBL10), 20 g/kg (GBL20) of goji berry leaves and negative control. These mentioned doses were added to per kg basal diet (166 g crude protein and 2821 kcal ME kg-1). Feed was offered limited (110 g/hen) and water was available ad-libitum. The trial was continued for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, egg yield, egg mass, feed intake and feed conversion ratio of laying hens were not affected by treatments with the addition of GBL (P>0.05). Whereas GBL20 treatment reduced the yolk cholesterol level (P<0.05). GBL10 and GBL20 decreased egg shell thickness compared to control group (P<0.05). GBL10 increased albumen index compared to control group (P<0.05). As a result, 20 g/kg GBL was used in layer diets as a feed additive to reduce egg yolk cholesterol levels.
  • ... Plants such as Lycium barbarum and L. chinense, also known as gou qi zi or Goji, wolfberry, Chinese wolfberry or matrimony wine, have been widely used in Asian countries for the treatment of a number of symptoms related to [12,19] diabetes, inflammation and as a tonic for well-being. The phytochemicals reported from Goji were claimed to exhibit antioxidant, antitumor, immunomodulatory, cardioprotective, antidiabetic and neuroprotective activities [19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32]. The dried root bark of L. barbarum, has been shown to produce long-term hypoglycemic effects and reduced body weight in diabetic mice [23]. ...
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    Current clinical antidiabetic drugs, like rosiglitazone 1, have been implicated in some serious side effects like edema, weight gain, and heart failure, making it necessary to find alternative agents. Partial agonists of peroxisome-proliferator activated receptor-gamma (PPARγ) were determined to possess improved insulin sensitivity without undeseirable side-effects when compared to full agonists of PPARγ, like rosiglitazone 1. The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) plants, Goji (Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense) are widely used for treating symptoms related to various diseases including diabetes and hypertension. Twenty-seven reported compounds from Goji were docked into both partial- and full-agonist binding sites of PPARγ. Amongst the docked compounds, phenylethylamide-based phytochemicals (5-9) (termed as tyramine-derivatives, TDs) were found to possess good docking scores and binding poses with favorable interactions. Synthesis of 24 TDs, including three naturally occuring amides (6, 8, 9) were synthesized and tested for PPARγ gene induction with cell-based assay. Three compounds showed similar or higher fold induction than the positive control, rosiglitazone. Among these three active TDs, trans-N-feruloyloctopamine (9) and tyramine derivatives-enriched extract (TEE) (21%) of the root bark of L. chinense were further studied in vivo using db/db mice. However, both TEE as well as 9 did not show significant antidiabetic properties in db/db mice. In vivo results suggest that the proposed antidiabetic property of Lycium species may not be due to tyramine derivatives alone. Further studies of tyramine derivatives or enriched extract(s) for other bioactivities like hypocholesterolemic activities, and studies of novel isolated compounds from Goji will enable a more complete understanding of their bioactivities.
  • ... L. barbarum, is a solanaceous defoliated shrubbery native to Asian areas such as China and Tibet [8]. It is popular in traditional medicine in Asian countries due to its biofunctionality, which is related to various components that include polysaccharides, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds [9]. The ancient herbalist classics recorded that L. barbarum nourishes the liver and kidneys and brightens the eyes [9]. ...
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    The aim of the present work was to investigate the potential prebiotic action of Goji berry powder on selected probiotic bacteria grown in a nutritive synthetic substrate and in simulated gastric and intestinal juices. Different probiotic strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus were grown in these substrates with or without the addition of encapsulated goji berry extracts of different polysaccharide and polyphenol contents. The results proved that the addition of the extracts promoted the proliferation of probiotic strains and, in particular, increased the number of bacterial colonies of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis (Bb12), Bifidobacterium longum (Bb46), and Lactobacillus casei by 2, 0.26, and 1.34 (log cfu/mL), respectively. Furthermore, the prebiotic effect seems to be correlated to Goji berry polysaccharides and/or polyphenols, higher contents of which (under the tested concentrations) could increase the stress tolerance of B. lactis and B. longum in a simulated gastrointestinal environment. According to the findings of the present research, it can be suggested that the Goji berry encapsulated extracts could be used as prebiotic additives in food or nutraceuticals, in order to stimulate growth or protect the viability of probiotic strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.
  • ... Dalam 100 g goji berry mengandung vitamin C sebanyak 42 mg, potassium sebanyak 1460 mg, sodium sebanyak 550 mg, fosfor sebanyak 184 mg, magnesium sebanyak 90 g dan kalsium sebanyak 50 mg. Buah goji berry yang kering dapat menghasilkan 370 Kkal/100 g (Kulczyński & Gramza-Michałowska, 2016). Biasanya buah goji berry dimakan langsung, dibuat sebagai jus, dikeringkan, atau dibuat menjadi serbuk/ tepung dan tablet suplemen. ...
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