Goji Berries: Traditional Chinese Medicine Comes to Wellness

August 01, 2006

Goji Berries:  Traditional Chinese Medicine Comes to Wellness 

 Competency # 14 Superfood                   Reference: Time Magazine, July 24, 2006 

 All right, we’re jumping right off the end of the dock here and advocating something that’s completely new to most of us.  Goji berries are becoming more well-known, and should be.  Here’s why.  They may be “the next big thing”, but they certainly are part of a trend that is unpacking a critical lack in our nutritional mix.  We are starved for antioxidants and flavonoids, and Goji berries supply those in abundance. 

 But Goji berries are NOT new.  They have been known in traditional Chinese medicine for several thousand years.  They grow in the Himalayas and in Tibet naturally.  They are now being cultivated in many parts of China.  What is new is that they are catching on in America.  The July 24th issue of Time Magazine called Goji berry the “Breakout Superfruit of the Year”.    We are now importing thousands of tons of them year which is being turned into all sorts of juices and miracle products.  

Some of that is borderline hoaxy, but some of it is true.  Before you get turned off by the internet marketing, here is the science that we know. There are a bunch of things that make the Gogi a powerhouse.  Their ORAC score (oxygen radical absorption capacity) comes in at 30,000, compared to blueberries at 9,300.  They are potentially three times the potency of blueberries!   The goji berry has a few unique complex sugars that appear to have some dramatic intracellular signaling capacity.  They come stuffed with phenolics, which are another form of antioxidants.  That’s part of what gives them their bright red color. 

So the table is set for the goji berry to start demonstrating powerful personal health effects once they get studied in the structured methodology of American medical science.  The randomized controlled trial (RCT) takes years to have measured impacts.  Our degenerative illnesses take years to develop, if not decades.  The journey of discovery that this newsletter is on is finding those stories before those decades elapse.  But antioxidants have been proven to be very beneficial in multiple other venues, and the goji berry is as potent as they come.  And I haven't even started on the omega fatty acids, the vitamins and the protein (more than soy). So, we are left with anecdote for the time being.  

Here are the personal stories I have heard from people who have been drinking two ounces of goji berry juice a day. 1. A young thirties female with high blood pressure who no longer gets ankle swelling and is in such good control of her blood pressure, she’s starting to ween off her blood pressure meds. 2. Older male on a variety of high blood pressure meds being weened off all but one 3. An older female with chronic inflammatory bowel disease whose had her first formed stool in 20 years For me these aren’t just stories in the news.  These are people I know with first hand experience.  The science isn’t “proven” yet.  We don’t know exactly how these antioxidants work.  But there is too much of this puzzle that fits for it not to end up being valid.  God bless those traditional Chinese healers.  What else have they got in their bag? 

 WWW.  What will work for Me.  I have family and friends with heart disease.  I don’t have 20 years to wait for a RCT (Random Control Trial) to prove to me that goji works.   I’m going to give it a try.  And if it’s good for you once you have heart disease, why not before?  In the meantime, I’m eating blueberries every day and making sure I get an abundance of brightly colored foods.  My daily ORAC goal is 3500 points a day.

This column is written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD,Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI. (262-784-5300)