Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lycium Barbarum

Wolfberry, the common name for Lycium barbarum, is grown all over the world and is sought after for its medicinal and health properties. The plant produces red colored berries that are oblong in shape and very tender. Because of this property, the berry needs to be handled very carefully while plucking and is shaken from the vine to prevent it from spoiling. The picked fruit is preserved by a process of slow drying in the shade.

About the plant

Lycium barbarum plant grows to a height of 2.5 to 4 m, and flowers in the months of June to August. It can grow in sandy and clay soils that are nutritionally poor, and can grow in semi shade or no shade at all.


Wolfberry has a history of several centuries of use in China, where it is highly regarded for its medicinal, healing, and health enhancement properties. Among other things, wolfberry has been credited with anti-ageing properties and enhancing longevity. As if to bear this out, people living in some parts of China, where the plant is extensively grown and used, do enjoy a very high life expectancy and good general health.

Medicinal Use

The bark of Lycium barbarum tree has been a favorite medicine with the Traditional Chinese system of medicine. It is claimed that Lycium barbarum barks contain several valuable and important properties and are useful in various treatments and health improvement programs. These include improvement of the immune system, improvement of the eyesight, protection of the liver, improved blood circulation and increased sperm production. It has been used in traditional medical systems as a sedative and painkiller and to treat inflammation, skin irritation, anemia, cough and nose bleeds. There are also studies that suggest that it could be useful in the treatment of cancer, although more clinical trials would be needed to establish this claim. Lycium barbarum barks can be eaten raw or taken as a juice or with tea. Wolfberry can be taken on daily basis for general health.

Culinary Use

Wolfberries taste like raisins with a slight suggection of tomatos. They can be eaten raw or could be cooked. The Chinese make soups out of this berry and also brew it into a wine. The leaves are also consumed as a vegetable.

Nutritional Value

Wolfberries are considered as one of the richest natural sources of nutrients. They contain beta-carotone, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1 and B2, in addition to a number of other vitaamins, minerals, anitoxidants and amino acids.

Wolfberry contains most of the carrbohydrates,protein, fat and dietary fibers needed by the body. Hundred grams of the processed berry contains 370 calories.

Non medicinal uses

Lycium barbarum could also be used as a hedge and as a stabilizer for sandy banks since it has a good root system and grows on sandy soil.


There are no known major hazards associated with Lycium barbarum. However, it belongs to a family that is known to often contain toxins, and therefore, it is preferable to exercise caution in its consumption. The use of its leaves is quite widespread and well documented, and so may not pose much risk. The unripe fruit might be toxic. However, the ripe fruit seems to be fit for consumption. Although there are no known cases of allergy to wolfberries, it is better that you consult your doctor if you are prone to allergy or have reason to suspect that you might be allergic.

About the Author
The author Kirk Bachelder manages a business offering Goji Berries, Goji Berry Juice and Goji Seeds for sale at

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