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Friday, August 26, 2011

What is the most powerful antioxidant?

Goji Berry* (Syn. Wolfberry; gouqizi)

Plant Source: Lycium barbarum Land L. chinense Mill. (Family Solanaceae).
Other names: Chinese Wolfberry, Lycium Fruit. Tibetan Goji Berry

Background information: The name Tibetan Goji Berry is in common use in the natural health food market. Berries from the Goji plant that are claimed to have been grown in the Himalaya region form the basis of a very large health food market. The etymological origin of "Goji" is unclear but it is likely a simplified spelling of gǒuqǐ.
Both species of Goji (Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense) are deciduous woody perennial plants, growing 1-3 m high. L. chinense is grown in the south of China and tends to be somewhat shorter, whileL. barbarum is grown in the north and tends to be somewhat taller.
In addition to being cultivated in China, Goji also grows on extensive vines in the sheltered valleys of the Himalayas in Tibet, and in Mongolia. The round, red Goji berries are very tender and must be shaken from the vine rather than picked in order to avoid spoiling. The Goji fruits are preserved by slowly drying them in the shade. The berry has been eaten locally in the Himalayan and Tibetan regions for centuries and is celebrated in festivals. The Goji fruit is nicknamed the "happy berry" because of the sense of well being it is said to induce.
Goji berries and lycium bark play important roles in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), where they are believed to enhance immune system function, help eyesight, protect the liver, boost sperm production, and improve circulation, among other effects. In TCM terms, Goji berries are sweet in taste and neutral in nature; they act on the liver, lung, and kidney channels and enrich yin. Goji berries can be eaten raw, brewed into a tea, or prepared as a tincture.

Goji berries are nutritionally rich, containing beta-carotene, Vitamins C, B1, B2 and other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids. Companies marketing the berries also claim the berries contain such nutrients as isoleucine, tryptophan, zinc, iron, copper, calcium, germanium, selenium, phosphorus, B6, and vitamin E.
Culinary uses: As a food, dried Goji Berries may be eaten raw or cooked. Their taste is somewhat similar to that of raisins. Dried Goji Berry is an ingredient often used in Chinese soups. Young shoots and leaves of the Lycium bush are also grown commercially as a leaf vegetable. A wine containing Goji Berries (called gǒuqǐ jiǔ; 枸杞酒) is also produced.[1]

Part Used: Ripe fruit.
Goji Health Properties: Yin tonic, improves vision, boost sperm production, benefits complexion, nourishes Liver and Kidney, replenishes vital essence (semen), powerful antioxidant, antimutagenic, improves circulation, anti cancer properties.
Goji Berries contain complex phyto-nutrients and bio flavinoids: 
Betaine, which is used by the liver to produce choline, a compound that calms nervousness, enhances memory, promotes muscle growth, and protects against fatty liver disease.

Physalin, which is active against all major types of leukemia. It has also been used as a treatment for hepatitis B.

Solavetivone, a powerful anti-fungal and anti-bacterial compound.

Beta-Sitoserol, an anti-inflammatory agent. It has been used to treat sexual impotence and prostate enlargement. It also has a cholesterol lowering effect.

Cyperone, a sesquiterpene that benefits the heart and helps maintain normal blood pressure. It has also been used in the treatment of cervical cancer.

The Goji Berry is being called the world's most powerful anti-aging food. Goji is rated #1 on the ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), which measures the antioxidant level in foods. It is a test developed by USDA researchers out of Tufts University in Boston. Foods that score high in an antioxidant analysis called ORAC may protect cells and their components from oxidative damage, according to ORAC studies of animals and human blood at the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. ARS is the chief scientific agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Most Common Traditional Uses of Goji: General weakness, lack of energy, aching back and joints, tinnitus, dizziness, diabetes, blurred vision, cough, wet dreams, sexual inadequacies. 
Modern/Recent Uses:
Internal: - Toxic side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
External: - Burns, ulcers, bedsores, frostbite, furuncles.
One of the most well-known traditional properties of Goji fruit is its ability to improve vision. This has been documented for over fifteen centuries. Modern scientific studies have finally supplied some substantiation to this property. It turns out Goji fruit not only contains high amounts of b -carotene (~ 8 mg/100g) but this b -carotene is in a highly biologically active form which is readily utilized by the body.[6]
However, b -carotene is not the only nutrient in Goji fruit. Goji is also reported to be very rich in amino acids (half in free form), other vitamins (B1, B2, C, nicotinic acid, etc.), and polysaccharides that have antioxidant and immuno-modulating effects in experimental animals as well as other nutrients. Since oral administration of Goji fruit to humans in various studies have also improved their immune functions, raised the serum levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and haemoglobin but lowered the level of lipid peroxides as well as reduced senility symptoms, the polysaccharides obviously are an important active component of lycium fruit.[6] Yet only about 25 years ago, scientists in America were still viewing polysaccharides only as carbohydrates (like starch and sugars) that supply our body with energy and that they had no other functions. They were so used to looking for instant response in their search for fast-acting drugs from nature that they either didn't know how to deal with anything slow-acting or did not have the patience that is normally a characteristic of the Old World. It was only when more and more evidence of these other properties of polysaccharides kept emerging from Japan, China and Europe that American scientists started to pay attention. Now, they have finally acknowledged that certain carbohydrates (polysaccharides) play important roles in our health other than simply supplying energy.[6]

Another well-known and long-documented traditional property of Goji fruit is its ability to "benefit complexion and maintain one's beauty"; Goji is also considered to have anti-aging properties. To drug-oriented American scientists, this certainly sounds ridiculous. But various studies have shown Goji fruit to have numerous beneficial effects, including, antioxidant, immuno-potentiating, antimutagenic, hypoglycaemic, hypolipemic, hypotensive, etc., all of which contribute to the slowing down of the aging process or help us live longer. 
The beautifying property of Goji fruit may have some scientific basis after all which may justify its use in skin-care cosmetics, as recent laboratory studies not only demonstrated its antioxidant effect but also its ability to increase dermal hydroxyproline level in mice, indicating increased collagen synthesis. All these effects are good for the skin.[6]

Medicinal Use Research: - A sweet tonic decoction made from the Goji fruit has traditionally been used to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels[5]. Goji acts mainly on the liver and kidneys[1, 2, 5]. Goji fruit has traditionally been taken internally in the treatment of high blood pressure, diabetes, poor eyesight, vertigo, lumbago, impotence and menopausal complaints[5]. Goji fruit is harvested when fully ripe and is dried for later use[5]. The Goji root bark is a bitter, cooling, antibacterial herb that controls coughs and lowers fevers, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels[1, 3, 5]. It is taken internally in the treatment of chronic fevers, internal haemorrhages, nosebleeds, tuberculosis, coughs, asthma etc[5]. It is applied externally to treat genital itching[5]. The bark is harvested in the winter and dried for later use[5]. Diuretic, purgative, [1, 2]. The plant has a long history of medicinal use, both as a general, energy restoring tonic and also to cure a wide range of ailments from skin rashes and eyesight problems to diabetes[3]. A tonic tea is made from the leaves[3]. The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. Goji is also a good source of essential fatty acids, which is very unusual for a fruit. Goji is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers[4].

  What is the most powerful antioxidant?

Deceptive Marketing:
Since the early 21st century the dried Goji fruit has begun to be sold in the West as a health food (typically under the name "Tibetan Goji Berry"), in ever increasing quantities and often accompanied by grossly exaggerated claims regarding its purported health benefits. However, the Goji berry is said to contain 2500 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit, making it one of the world's richest sources of vitamin C behind the Australian billy-goat plum and the South American camu-camu.  It is rated #1 on the ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), which measures the antioxidant level in foods. This means pure and unadulterated Goji Berry juice is a proven and powerful anti-oxidant full of bioflavinoids, scientifically proven to be very beneficial to human health. But can you trust what the marketing men say about their particular product?
Unfortunately for the natural health industry, Goji Berry Juice is joining the ranks of that other well known and common plant product Aloe Vera, in that it is making millionaires out of greedy and unscrupulous promoters in the United States (and other countries), thanks to its name recognition and to the lack of standardized testing methods to determine its quality and the amount of active ingredient. Greedy suppliers, brokers and manufacturers frequently stretch 1kg or litre of 100% genuine Goji Berry liquid or powder into literally tens or even hundreds of litres of finishedGoji Berry "health" drink, reaping outrageous profits. The taste of the Goji Berry juice or drink the unsuspecting public experience is mostly due to citric acid, flavours and preservatives. These dubious manufacturing and marketing methods are starting to impact on the perception held by members of the public when it comes to assessing the health benefits of genuine Goji juice. 
The image for Goji juice is not helped by wild claims being made by irresponsible manufacturers that Goji juice will cure cancer as has been the case recently in New Zealand. Companies marketing the Goji juice drinks often also include the unsupported claim that a Chinese man named Li Qing Yuen, who was said to have consumed wolfberries daily, lived to the age of 252 years (1678-1930).

[1] Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable 1974 ISBN 0094579202
This is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[2] Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles 1985
An excellent Chinese herbal giving information on over 500 species.
[3] Larkcom J. Oriental Vegetables John Murray 1991 ISBN 0-7195-4781-4
[4] Matthews. V. The New Plantsman. Volume 1, 1994. Royal Horticultural Society 1994 ISBN 1352-4186
[5] Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. 1995 ISBN 0-7513-020-31
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student.
[6] Dr Albert Leung & Steven Foster: Encyclopedia of Common Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics.
Dr. Leung a world renown scientist specializing in pharmacognosy, has been able to draw upon his ability to read original Chinese, thus including references from dozens of major Chinese classic works as well as numerous modem Chinese texts. In addition, references are made to over 50 journals dealing with Chinese traditional and herbal medicine, many of which are not translated into English and are thus not available in many of the standard computer databases.

FruitsORAC Score
Grams Needed to
Reach DRI
Goji Berries25,30020
Black Raspberries7,70065
Red Raspberries2,400208
Noni Fruit1,506332
Red grapes739677
Pink grapefruit4951010
White grapefruit4601087
VegetablesORAC ScoreGrams Needed to
Reach DRI
Steamed spinach909550
Yellow squash1,150435
Brussels sprouts980510
Alfalfa sprouts930538
Broccoli flowers890562
Red bell pepper710704
Baked beans503994
Peas, Frozen3751333
Sweet Potato2951695
OtherORAC ScoreGrams Needed to
Reach DRI
Dark Chocolate13,12038.1
Milk Chocolate6,74074.2
Rooibos tea (200ml)750133