Wolfberry may sound unfamiliar, but this plant has been used in parts of the world for quite a long time. Nutritionally and medicinally, consuming wolfberries may enhance many areas of your health. Simply adding wolfberry to your supplement routine can help you enjoy many of its benefits.
What is Wolfberry?
The wolfberry, also known as the goji berry or Lycium barbarum, is a bright reddish orange berry that grows on perennial shrubs native to Asia. Most people in Western society may be familiar with them in trail mix or natural granola bars. Commercial goji berries are often sold dried or in powdered form.
However, wolfberries have a 2,000-year long medicinal and culinary history in Asian countries, with many eating them for their health benefits and hopes of increasing their longevity. Here, wolfberry is often used in teas and as an herb in traditional Chinese medicine.
Today, wolfberry is also found in a number of dietary supplements, including GreenSilk™ Formula #1. And there are plenty of reasons why you should start adding wolfberry products to your health practice.
Antioxidants in Wolfberry
Wolfberries are a potent source of antioxidants, compounds that help protect your cells from oxidative damage that can eventually lead to disease. Evidence has found that the wolfberry benefits likely stem from their antioxidant content.
Some of the most powerful antioxidant compounds in wolfberries are L. barbarum polysaccharides, which have been observed in various types of studies to have many pharmacological properties.
Research shows that the antioxidants in wolfberry may help to protect the body from aging, cancer, and radiation damage. They may also boost immunity and hemopoiesis, the essential production of blood cells and platelets in bone marrow. The antioxidant properties of wolfberries are so strong that it has frequently been called a superfood.
Good nutrition is a critical part of overall health, and wolfberries are a rich source of many vitamins and minerals.
In just 5 tablespoons of dried goji berries provide:
- 100 calories
- 4 grams of protein
- 4 grams of fiber
- 22 grams of carbohydrates
This small serving will provide 15% of your daily vitamin C, 11% of your daily iron, and a whopping 500% of your daily vitamin A needs.
In addition to providing an array of micronutrients, incorporating wolfberry as part of your wellness regimen may offer a number of specific protective health benefits.
Some of the most well-researched wolfberry benefits include the following:
- Anticancer properties: Researchers have observed the ability of wolfberry antioxidants to inhibit tumor growth in animal studies, and to help promote cancer cell death. In cancer patients, wolfberry antioxidants may even improve the effectiveness of certain chemotherapy treatments. In fact, some studies suggest the use of L. barbarum for cancer therapy because it also doesn’t appear to be toxic to normal, healthy cells.
- Improve blood sugar management. L. barbarum polysaccharides appear to help lower high blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, and promote pancreatic β-cell proliferation. In a 2020 animal study, diabetic rats given a wolfberry extract substance experienced an improvement in blood sugar.
Wolfberry also helped repair liver, kidney, and pancreas injuries as well as altered metabolic profiles and gut microbiota. L. barbarum polysaccharides were also observed to improve blood sugar, oxidative stress, and DNA damage among rats with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus in an older study.
- Protect vision and eye health. Some research has observed the ability of wolfberry antioxidants to protect retinal cells against glaucoma, a common disease of the eye in which the optic nerve is damaged. In a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers recommend consuming wolfberries regularly to slow progression and protect against age-related macular degeneration. Wolfberries are high in carotenoids, like zeaxanthin and carotene, which are pigmented antioxidants found in the eyes.
- Boost immunity. Wolfberry antioxidants may improve immune defense, activity which has been observed in both human and test tube studies. For instance, they may protect the liver from injuries that could otherwise result from toxicity. Some animal studies have also suggested their antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Protect brain health. L. barbarum polysaccharides may have neuroprotective properties. Animal studies suggest their ability to reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia in mice, while also improving memory and learning. Furthermore, newer research suggests that L. barbarum could even be beneficial in the treatment of depression.
- Support male reproductive health. Animal studies have observed that wolfberry antioxidants can increase quality, quantity, and motility of sperm in mice subjects. They also appear to have protective effects on the testes and improve sexual performance.
- Support heart health. Wolfberry antioxidants may help lower high blood fats that may be a risk factor for heart disease, and offer other cardioprotective benefits. A 2017 study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity found that wolfberry antioxidants improved blood lipid profiles. They also targeted abdominal fat loss among people with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increases risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
In the study, participants who are 14 grams of wolfberries per day experienced a substantial reduction in BMI, cholesterol levels, waist circumference, and stomach fat.
As you can see these powerful antioxidants found in this tiny berry have some serious health benefits.
Should you take wolfberry?
While most healthy people can consume wolfberries without concern, there are certain people who may need to avoid wolfberry and its extract. Rarely, someone may have a wolfberry allergy, something that may be more common among people who have other fruit allergies. Additionally, pregnant women should avoid it because it contains betaine, a compound that could be unsafe for fetuses.
As with other herbs, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider to determine whether wolfberry is appropriate for you based on your medical and health history. They will also be able to determine if you are currently using any medications that could potentially interact.
Wolfberry clearly packs nutrition and offers a number of health benefits, even in small amounts. Even if you don’t usually eat dried goji berries, GreenSilk™ Formula #1 is a fantastic alternative for people looking to reap the benefits of this ancient berry.
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