What are Goji Berries?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Goji berries are a fruit renowned in Asia for their nutritional and medicinal properties. Goji berries, also known as “wolfberries,” have been utilized by Chinese doctors and healers for over two millennia. It is believed, however, that goji berries have been used to improve health and nutrition for over 4,000 years. In fact, goji berries incorporated in folk tales and lore that date back to the very first emperor in China.

Goji berries are marketed as a superfruit.
Goji berries are marketed as a superfruit.

Goji berries are believed to improve one’s immune system, improve eyesight, and promote healthy liver function, to name just a few of the berries' benefits. Some people also say that goji berries improve circulation and, in men, increase sperm production. There are just as many ways to consume goji berries as there are health benefits from the fruit. They can be enjoyed raw or dried, added to salads and other dishes. The berries can also be crushed and enjoyed as a juice or brewed into a tea. In fact, the leaves of goji berry plants are sometimes used to make tea. Doctors and herbalists also sometimes to use goji berries to make tinctures. As the berries have a sweet flavor, they are enjoyable in many forms.

Goji berries can be crushed and then enjoyed in juice.
Goji berries can be crushed and then enjoyed in juice.

Goji berries range in color from bright orange to deep red. In the Northern Hemisphere, the plant that produces the berries flowers from June to September. After the blooming season, the berries mature from August to October. The specific blooming and maturation times depend on the climate, soil, altitude, and latitude of the plants.

Goji berries may help promote healthy liver function.
Goji berries may help promote healthy liver function.

In North America, goji berries are becoming recognized for their positive properties. Not only are the berries very nutritious, but they are also rich in antioxidants. In fact, goji berries have been nicknamed the "super fruit.” Goji berries are most commonly found in health food stores in their dried form. Even when they are dried, the fruit is a beautiful deep red color and their natural sweetness is maintained. If there is an Asian market in your area, you might be able to find fresh goji berries there. Goji berry juice is available in some health food stores. Furthermore, if you use an herbalist, he or she might be able to help you find a good source of goji berries.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long advocated the use of goji berries to help improve eyesight.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long advocated the use of goji berries to help improve eyesight.
Goji berries often combined with other fruits and marketed as a health-promoting beverage.
Goji berries often combined with other fruits and marketed as a health-promoting beverage.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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