What are goji berries?

The plant Lycium barbarum has berries (goji) that have been used in Traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years (1,2). The plant’s berries are sweet and tangy and have an orangeish red color. They are native to Asia, especially regions of China. They are also found in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. They are usually found as dried berries in the grocery store. Goji berries are recognized as a superfruit with anti-aging and antioxidant properties (3). They are traditionally used in tea, soups, Asian cuisine, and in combination with meat and vegetables in meals. They can also be used for the production of wines or juices. In traditional Chinese medicine, they have the ability to maintain eye function, tonic the liver, nourish the kidney and lungs by balancing Yin and Yang in the body (1,2).

What are the features of goji berries?

Today, goji berries are considered a superfruit because of their nutrients and highly active composition including sugar or polysaccharide complexes, carotenoids, and phenylpropanoids to name a few (4). The most important of these is the polysaccharide complexes termed L. barbarum polysaccharides (LBP). These complexes include the monosaccharides arabinose, rhamnose, xylose, mannose, galactose, glucose along with galacturonic acid and 18 amino acids (5,6). The second most abundant active component are the carotenoids. They give the berries their orange-red color. The phenylpropanoids give goji berries their very high antioxidant ability. Goji berries also have vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and ascorbic acid.

What are the health benefits of Goji berries?

LBP exhibit a wide range of therapeutic benefits for aging, fatigue, cancer, colitis, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma in animal models (7). The antioxidant activity in goji berries reduce oxidative stress-induced damage in cells and this benefit can be seen in a number of conditions.

Healthy people

In a study with healthy volunteers, it was found that the juice increased energy levels, athletic performance, quality of sleep, ability to focus, mental acuity, happiness, reduced fatigue and stress and improved gastrointestinal function (8). Another study found that the juice improved strength, stress, mental acuity, ease of awakening, shortness of breath, focus, sleep quality, daydreaming and overall health (9).


Cancer cells are mutated such that they do not grow properly in addition to other dysregulated processes. LBPs are a safe option that reduces the cancer effects in the body and in the lab (10). They could even be used to reduce the side effects of other cancer therapies. (10). LBP inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells, cervical cancer cells, human colon cancer cells, leukemia cells and hepatoma cells in the lab (11-15). LBP inhibited sarcoma growth in mice and enhanced immune activities (16). LBP also reduced the size of the tumor in a prostate cancer mouse model (17). In addition, when advanced cancer patients were treated with an immunity treatment in combination with LBPs, it was found that the treatment was more effective with LBPs (18). LBPs also increased their immune cell activity (18).


As we age, our immune systems’ responsiveness decreases and there are functional irregularities which lead to a poor overall immune health against pathogens and an increased response against self (19). Oxidative damage also increases with age (20,21). Antioxidants such as those found in goji berries play a major role in slowing down the aging process. In a study on an aging Chinese population, it was found that it increased immune cell counts, reduced fatigue and improved mental ability (22). Another study found that consuming it for 3 months with the influenza vaccine showed that they had better immunity against the virus (23). Goji berries reduce oxidative stress in the aging population, protecting them from some harmful effects of aging (24).

Weight loss

Goji berries were found to reduce caloric expenditure and reduce waist circumference in overweight individuals (25). LBPs also have a hypolipidemic effect in animals (26).

Eyes and glaucoma

LBPs have shown protective effects against certain retinal injuries and have a protective effect in animal models (27-35). LBPs may be a potential treatment for vascular-related retinopathy (29). They are also therapeutic against neurodegeneration in the retina in a rat model (32) Through the reduction of oxidative stress, LBPs are able to promote the survival of photoreceptors (35).

Liver and hepatoprotective effects

LBPs can reverse alcohol-induced liver damages and prevent the progression of fatty liver disease in rats (36). LBPs are able to reduce oxidative stress, reduce the inflammatory response and protect the liver from various injuries in animals (reviewed in 7).


Studies in animals have shown that LBPs can lower glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity by increasing antioxidation, glucose metabolism, and insulin secretion (37-43).

Immunomodulating effects

LBPs have immuno-enhancement functions (44-46). They improve responsiveness in aging models (47). They enhance B cell, T cell and macrophage functions (reviewed in 7). LBP also stimulate moderate immune responses, and therefore, can potentially be used an adjuvant in vaccines (48).

Brain effects

LBPs possess neuroprotective effects (49-51) but the mechanisms have not yet been fully elucidated. In animals, LBPs can protect against neuronal injury or loss induced neurotoxic insults (52-55). LBPs may also enhance neurogenesis (56,57). LBPs have a neuroprotective effect when there is a risk of Alzheimer’s disease in animal models (58).

Removing toxicities

LBPs promote blood and bone marrow recovery from irradiation or chemotherapy-induced damage in mice (59).

Reproductive system

Goji berries are described to have a pro-sexual effect and thus it is included in sexual-enhancing Chinese herbal remedies. Daily consumption of goji juice in healthy people improves sexual well-being and can increase sexual activity and ability (24). LPBs protect the reproductive system through antioxidation and promotion of cell proliferation.

Other Effects

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated condition with persistent tiredness, impaired memory, sore throat, tender lymph nodes, muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, unrefreshing sleep. LBPs enhanced elimination of fatigue (60). Some LBPs also have antiviral activity (61) LBPs also have a cardioprotective effect through their antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activity (62) 


A better understanding is needed of goji berries in regard to their affected pathways and therapeutic targets. There are no reports on the severe toxicity of LBPs in humans. But there are possible interactions between warfarin and LBPs, indicating a potential risk of goji–warfarin interaction. Clinical safety data on LBPs are sparse. 

MapleLife Goji Berry Juice

MapleLife is a well-reputed company for making quality supplements. In a number of the studies listed here, goji juice was used with clinical patients. MapleLife has used goji berries from Ningxia, China to make a 100% pure goji berry juice available for consumption. The versatility of this is amazing because you get the benefit of the berries that you can use in cocktails, juice blends, healthy shakes, or any way you prefer to consume it. Considering the many benefits of Goji berries listed here, they should be an important part of your diet.


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