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Lycium


What is it?

Goji is a native Chinese deciduous shrub with bright red berries. The dried berries and root bark are used to make medicine.

Goji is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them.

Goji is used for diabetes, high blood pressure, poor circulation, fever, malaria, and cancer. It’s also used for erectile dysfunction (ED), dizziness, ringing in the ears (tinnitus); and to reduce fever, sweating, irritability, thirst, nosebleeds, cough, and wheezing.

Some people use goji as an eye tonic for blurred vision, for macular degeneration, and for other eye disorders. Goji is also used to strengthen muscles and bone, and as a blood, liver, and kidney tonic.

In foods, the berries are eaten raw or used in cooking.

The use of goji was first described in the first century AD in Chinese literature. Traditionally, goji has been used to promote longevity. Legend claims that one herbalist who used goji in combination with other tonic herbs lived 252 years.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for GOJI are as follows:

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Dry eyes. Early research suggests that using Hialid eye drops and drinking a specific product (Runmushu Oral Liquid) containing rehmannia root, figwort, lilyturf root, dendrobium stem, goji fruit, chrysanthemum, and sticktight for one month may improve symptoms of dry eyes better than Hialid eye drops alone in older women.
  • Quality of life. Some early research shows that drinking goji juice (GoChi, Freelife International LLC) for 14-30 days improves energy levels, athletic performance, sleep quality, sharpness of the mind, calmness, feelings of health and contentment, mood, and bowel regularity. However, other evidence suggests that drinking the same goji juice does not improve short-term memory or eyesight in healthy adults.
  • Weight loss. Early research suggests that drinking goji juice (GoChi, Freelife International LLC) for 2 weeks in addition to following a diet and exercise program may decrease waist size in healthy, overweight adults. However, it does not appear to improve weight or body fat.
  • Diabetes.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Fever.
  • Malaria.
  • Cancer.
  • Blood circulation problems.
  • Sexual problems (impotence).
  • Dizziness.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of goji for these uses.

How does it work?

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Lycium contains chemicals that might help lower blood pressure and blood sugar.

Are there safety concerns?

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Goji is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken appropriately by mouth, short-term. It can cause some side effects such as nausea and vomiting.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking goji by mouth during pregnancy is LIKELY UNSAFE. It contains a chemical, betaine, which could cause miscarriage. Don’t use goji if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Allergy to protein in certain products: Goji might cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to tobacco, peaches, tomatoes, and nuts.

Low blood pressure: Goji might lower blood pressure. If your blood pressure is already low, taking goji might make it drop too much.

High blood pressure: Goji might lower blood pressure. It might cause blood pressure to drop too much if you are taking medications for high blood pressure.

Diabetes: Goji root bark might lower blood sugar. It might cause blood sugar to drop too much if you are taking medications for diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar levels carefully.

Are there interactions with medications?

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Moderate

Be cautious with this combination.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Goji might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking goji along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking goji, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), diazepam (Valium), zileuton (Zyflo), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), fluvastatin (Lescol), glipizide (Glucotrol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), phenytoin (Dilantin), piroxicam (Feldene), tamoxifen (Nolvadex), tolbutamide (Tolinase), torsemide (Demadex), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Goji bark might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking goji bark along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Goji seems to decrease blood pressure. Taking goji along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

Warfarin (Coumadin)
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Goji might increase how long warfarin (Coumadin) is in the body, and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

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Herbs and supplements that might lower blood pressure
Goji root bark might lower blood pressure. Using it along with other herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure might lower blood pressure too much. Some of these products include danshen, ginger, Panax ginseng, turmeric, valerian, and others.

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar
Goji root bark might lower blood sugar. Using it along with other herbs and supplements that lower blood sugar might lower blood sugar too much. Some of these products include bitter melon, ginger, goat's rue, fenugreek, kudzu, willow bark, and others.

Are there interactions with foods?

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There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

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The appropriate dose of goji depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for goji. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Other names

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Baies de Goji, Baies de Lycium, Barberry Matrimony Vine, Chinese Boxthorn, Chinese Wolfberry, Di Gu Pi, Digupi, Épine du Christ, Fructus Lychii Chinensis, Fructus Lycii, Fructus Lycii Berry, Fruit de Lycium, Goji, Goji Berry, Goji Chinois, Goji de l’Himalaya, Goji Juice, Gou Qi Zi, Gouqizi, Jus de Goji, Kuko, Lichi, Licium Barbarum, Litchi, Litchi Chinensis, Lychee, Lyciet, Lyciet Commun, Lyciet de Barbarie, Lyciet de Chine, Lycii Berries, Lycii Chinensis, Lycii Fruit, Lycium barbarum, Lycium chinense, Lycium Fruit, Matrimony Vine, Ning Xia Gou Qi, Wolfberry.

Methodology

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To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).

References

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To see all references for the Lycium page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/1025.html.

  1. Paul Hsu, C. H., Nance, D. M., and Amagase, H. A meta-analysis of clinical improvements of general well-being by a standardized Lycium barbarum. J.Med.Food 2012;15:1006-1014. View abstract.
  2. Monzon, Ballarin S., Lopez-Matas, M. A., Saenz, Abad D., Perez-Cinto, N., and Carnes, J. Anaphylaxis associated with the ingestion of Goji berries (Lycium barbarum). J.Investig.Allergol.Clin.Immunol. 2011;21:567-570. View abstract.
  3. Amagase, H. and Nance, D. M. Lycium barbarum increases caloric expenditure and decreases waist circumference in healthy overweight men and women: pilot study. J.Am.Coll.Nutr. 2011;30:304-309. View abstract.
  4. Amagase, H., Sun, B., and Nance, D. M. Immunomodulatory effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum fruit juice in Chinese older healthy human subjects. J.Med.Food 2009;12:1159-1165. View abstract.
  5. Wei, D., Li, Y. H., and Zhou, W. Y. [Observation on therapeutic effect of runmushu oral liquid in treating xerophthalmia in postmenopausal women]. Zhongguo Zhong.Xi.Yi.Jie.He.Za Zhi. 2009;29:646-649. View abstract.
  6. Larramendi, C. H., Garcia-Abujeta, J. L., Vicario, S., Garcia-Endrino, A., Lopez-Matas, M. A., Garcia-Sedeno, M. D., and Carnes, J. Goji berries (Lycium barbarum): risk of allergic reactions in individuals with food allergy. J.Investig.Allergol.Clin.Immunol. 2012;22:345-350. View abstract.
  7. Carnes, J., de Larramendi, C. H., Ferrer, A., Huertas, A. J., Lopez-Matas, M. A., Pagan, J. A., Navarro, L. A., Garcia-Abujeta, J. L., Vicario, S., and Pena, M. Recently introduced foods as new allergenic sources: sensitisation to Goji berries (Lycium barbarum). Food Chem. 4-15-2013;137(1-4):130-135. View abstract.
  8. Rivera, C. A., Ferro, C. L., Bursua, A. J., and Gerber, B. S. Probable interaction between Lycium barbarum (goji) and warfarin. Pharmacotherapy 2012;32:e50-e53. View abstract.
  9. Amagase H, Nance DM. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum (goji) juice, GoChi. J Altern Complement Med 2008;14:403-12. View abstract.
  10. Leung H, Hung A, Hui AC, Chan TY. Warfarin overdose due to the possible effects of Lycium barbarum L. Food Chem Toxicol 2008;46:1860-2. View abstract.
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Last reviewed - 11/06/2014




Page last updated: 10 December 2014