Lycium barbarum, or the Goji berry, is a nutrient-rich Asian fruit made up of antioxidants, vitamins, folate, fiber, minerals, phenolics and compounds called L. barbarum polysaccharides (LBP). When consumed as part of a balanced, healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, Goji berries and Goji berry juice increases vision, liver and kidney function.


Significance

According to “The Nutritional Properties of Goji Berries,” the Goji berry is a powerful antioxidant tonic that nourishes the kidney system and removes waste from the body. By supporting kidney function, the Goji berry reduces the amount of stress that would otherwise be placed on the organ as it flushes waste and toxins from the body (ie., urea, ammonia, drugs, toxic substances). Its antibacterial properties also help the kidney to resist damage from oxygen free radicals and other toxins that can accumulate in the body due to poor kidney function. Oxygen free radicals can cause injury if kidney function is compromised. Excessive alcohol, abuse of illegal and legal drugs, and smoking can compromise kidney function.

Expert Insight

Fuchsia Dunlop, Chinese food expert and author of “Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China,” says, “They [Goji berries] are a very good tonic for the kidneys and liver, and for diabetes.” She recommends using Goji berries in soups with meat or soy products that are cooked plainly (without additional sauces and spices) or combined with chrysanthemum to make teas. Either preparation is good and will not encourage or diminish the effect of the berries.

It is not necessary to consume or prepare Goji berries in one particular way; however, Goji berries can be steamed to soften or added to foods and teas for taste.

Effects

Kidney function extends beyond waste excretion to include extremity fatigue, vertigo and poor health. According to B.J. Wang, an herbalist and owner of E. Shan Tang Herbs in Allstonm Mass., Goji berries can be used for “kidney yin deficiency.” He continues, “If knees are weak, legs are weak, or there’s vertigo, these are all considered kidney problems. When people are very tired, we use goji.” Mr. Wang credits the fruit’s 18 amino acids and high vitamin C content for its efficacy in nourishing the kidneys and supporting general health.

Considerations

Goji berries are effective in supporting kidney function because of their high oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). Compare the Goji berry at 25,100 (ORAC units) to prunes at 5,700 (ORAC units), raisins at 2,830 (ORAC units), spinach at 1,260 (ORAC units), Brussel sprouts at 980 (ORAC units), and broccoli at 890 (ORAC units).

Warning

Goji berry capsules are available and are said to deliver the same nutritional value as raw Goji berries. When purchasing raw Goji berry, be sure the berries are free of pesticides, microbials and bacteria. Various flavors are available including pomegranate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and cappuccino. Calories may vary.