Goji is a popularized phonetic take on the Chinese name for the fruit, Gou Qi Zi, while the name Matrimony Vine is used because taking Goji can improve fertility. Lycium barbarum, translates as the thorn from Lycia, and Lycia was an ancient city in what is now modern Turkey, hence the name Asian Boxthorn.
But where did the name Wolfberry come from? It’s not clear, but one theory is Turkey’s neighbour, Greece, has a word, lycos, which means wolf and wolves eat berries and fruits for dietary fibre. Wolves also eat a type of tomato, called a wolf peach. In South America, wolves also eat a type of tomato known there as a wolf apple.
The wolf peach, wolf apple and the Goji or Wolfberry, all belong to the Solanaceae family along with other nightshades like the tomato. So it is possible wolves ate Wolfberries and that is how the Wolfberry got its name. The reason Goji or Wolfberry has been used as a super–food and revered medicinal for thousands of years is, however, no mystery, thanks to modern scientific analysis.
This amazing plant, a perennial shrub of up to 5 metres, can grow at altitudes of up to 4000 metres, bearing beautiful little bell shaped lavender coloured flowers.
Common Name: Goji (Wolfberry)
Botanical Name: Lycium barbarum L.
Other Names: Wolfberry,Asian Boxthorn, Matrimony Vine, Gou Qi Zi
Growing Area: Native to the valleys of the Himalayas, and South-Eastern Europe.
Nutrients & Applications:
A veritable nutritional powerhouse, this red little raisin look-a-like is accredited with containing 19 amino acids, including 8 essential ones,21 trace minerals, including germanium, a rare mineral that helps the immune system fight cancer. It contains the complete spectrum of antioxidant carotenoids, including beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, the latter helping to reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration. Goji berries contain more protein than whole wheat, and are the second richest source of vitamin C in the plant kingdom.
Goji berries contain B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, and beta-sitosterol, an anti-inflammatory agent which can lower cholesterol, treat sexual impotence and prostate enlargement. The essential fatty acids found in Gojis, such as linoleic acid,are required for hormone production as well as smooth brain and nervous system functioning.
Goji berries contain cyperone, which benefits the heart and normalises blood pressure, alleviates menstrual discomfort, and has been used in the treatment of cervical cancer. The solavetivone in Goji is a powerful anti-fungal and anti-bacterial compound. Goji berries contain betaine, a bioflavonoid, which is used by the liver to produce choline, a compound that calms nervousness, enhances memory, promotes muscle growth, and protects against fatty liver disease. Betaine also provides methyl groups in the body’s energy reactions and can help reduce levels of homocysteine, a prime risk factor in heart disease. Goji’s polysaccharides help to fortify our immune system and balance blood sugar.
The fresh edible foliage is used in many Asian homes where it is cooked in soups and stews or used to make tea. Lycium root bark is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine where it is considered sweet in taste and neutral in nature. Goji acts on the liver, lungs, and kidneys and enriches yin. Berries can be eaten raw, cooked or drunk as a juice.
With a resume like that you may think Goji is for everyone, but sadly if you take blood thinners, or are allergic to nightshades, they may not be for you. Always check with your health care provider first!