Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are a perennial (does not die at the end of a year) shrub that is originally native to China. Wolf berries are cultivated for their culinary and medicinal benefits but their health benefits are little known and understood in the west.
Goji berries are part of the nightshade family which contains many deadly species of plants but also include some of the more commonly known plants such as tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplants, peppers, and tobacco. Goji berries are most commonly consumed in China when they are dried but are also cooked before eating.
However, they can be consumed fresh, in powdered form, and are often made into a health supplement that concentrates their medicinal benefits. Goji berry juice is also drank or blended with other flavors. Further, goji berries are sometimes fermented into a wine either by themselves or blended together with gapes to improve the flavor. In general, goji berries are thought to have a tangy flavor that is not that enjoyable on their own but blend well into soups (in China particularly medicinal soups) or other dishes.
In China many health benefits are attributed to the goji berry and science has only begun studying the health benefits of the berry. Goji berries contain a high amount of antioxidants which help to bind free radicals which are cancer causing agents. In addition, goji berries have been linked with slowing the speed of cancer growth in order to reduce the speed of its growth. Western doctors recommend using other cancer treating techniques in addition to or as a replacement for, goji berries however, though do not indicate that they will harm any other treatments.
One side effect that scientists suspect may be present in goji benefits is also another health benefit. Goji berries are often seen as a blood thinner which can reduce you chance for blood clots and can assist with a number of health processes. Unlike aspirin, another blood thinner, goji berries will not cause the same side effects such as increased chances of ulcers and are therefore a healthier viable alternative. However, if you are taking a blood thinner product than eating goji berries may be harmful.
Other health benefits attributed to goji berries includes improved blood circulation, improved skin and hair appearance, and weight loss. Improved eyesight is another added benefit of goji berries, though scientific studies have not been conclusive to establish this. Improved immunity to diseases is attributed to goji berries and they are often consumed in a medicinal soup in China a soon as a person starts to get a cold. They are even added to a hot pot soup (often to the non-spicy side) with dates and dried plums and consumed in that form.
In actuality, all berries are healthy, but the added health benefits of goji berries make them an attractive health supplement or food additive for many people around the world, though the goji berry health craze is still in its infancy in the Western world. In China, their acceptance by the populace is widespread with many individuals knowing and using them not for their individual health benefits but for the added longevity that it is believed that they bring to your life.