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Recent Studies: Goji Berry Helps Improve Overall Health & Wellbeing

Study 1

Clinical Trial Concerning The Effects Of Goji Berry On Male Infertility

Published in Life Sciences 2006, a study conducted by Q. Luo and colleagues of Wuhan University in China, titled ‘Lycium barbarum polysaccharides: Protective effects against heat-induced damage of rat testes and H2O2-induced DNA damage in mouse testicular cells and beneficial effect on sexual behaviour and reproductive function of hemicastrated rats ’ demonstrated that when the rats were subjected to heat, the goji berries protected testicular cells and preserved function compared to controls. Rats that had been partially castrated and given goji berries were able to have an erection and mount females significantly faster than similarly injured controls. Goji Berries also improved sperm quantity and quality in the animals.


Findings:

Lycium barbarum, a famous Chinese medicinal herb, has a long history of use as a traditional remedy for male infertility. Polysaccharides are the most important functional constituent in L. barbarum fruits. They systematically investigated the effect of L. barbarum polysaccharides (LBP) on rat testis damage induced by a physical factor (43 degrees C heat exposure), on DNA damage of mouse testicular cells induced by a chemical factor (H2O2), and on sexual behaviour and reproductive function of hemicastrated male rats.

The results showed that LBP provided a protective effect against the testicular tissue damage induced by heat exposure. When compared with negative control, a suitable concentration of LBP significantly increased testis and epididymis weights, improved superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, and raised sexual hormone levels in the damaged rat testes.

LBP had a dose-dependent protective effect against DNA oxidative damage of mouse testicular cells induced by H2O2. LBP improved the copulatory performance and reproductive function of hemicastrated male rats, such as shortened penis erection latency and mount latency, regulated secretion of sexual hormones and increased hormone levels, raised accessory sexual organ weights, and improved sperm quantity and quality.

The present findings support the folk reputation of L. barbarum fruits as an aphrodisiac and fertility-facilitating agent, and provide scientific evidence for a basis for the extensive use of L. barbarum fruits as a traditional remedy for male infertility in China.

Study 2

Clinical Trials Concerning Blood Glucose Levels & Cholesterol

Published in Life Sciences, 2004, a study performed on rabbits by Luo Q, Cai Y, Yan J, Sun M & Corke H, titled ‘Hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects and antioxidant activity of fruit extracts from Lycium barbarum’ found that goji berry extracts significantly reduced blood-glucose levels as well as total cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising beneficial high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.


Findings:

The hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of Lycium barbarum fruit water decoction, crude polysaccharide extracts (crude LBP), and purified polysaccharide fractions (LBP-X) in alloxan-induced diabetic or hyperlipidemic rabbits were investigated through designed sequential trials and by measuring blood glucose and serum lipid parameters. Total antioxidant capacity was also assessed using trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay.

It was found that the three Lycium barbarum fruit extracts/fractions could significantly reduce blood glucose levels and serum total cholesterol (TC) and triglyceride (TG) concentrations and at same time markedly increase high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) levels after 10 days treatment in tested rabbits, indicating that there were substantial hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects. Hypoglycemic effect of LBP-X was more significant than those of water decoction and crude LBP, but its hypolipidemic effect seemed to be weaker.

Total antioxidant capacity assay showed that all three Lycium barbarum extracts/fractions possessed antioxidant activity. However, water and methanolc fruit extracts and crude polysaccharide extracts exhibited stronger antioxidant activity than purified polysaccharide fractions because crude extracts were identified to be rich in antioxidants (e.g., carotenoids, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, thiamine, nicotinic acid). Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (glycocojugates), containing several monosaccharides and 17 amino acids, were major bioactive constituents of hypoglycemic effect. Both polysaccharides and vitamin antioxidants from Lycium barbarum fruits were possible active principles of hypolipidemic effect.

Study 3

Goji Berry Increases Metabolism Aiding Weight Loss

Published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition by Harunobu Amagase, PhD and Dwight M Nance, PhD titled ‘Lycium barbarum Increases Caloric Expenditure and Decreases Waist Circumference in Healthy Overweight Men and Women: Pilot Study ’ demonstrated that Lycium Barbarum increases metabolism aiding weight loss.

The study investigated caloric expenditure and changes in morphometric parameters (waist circumference) in healthy human adults.

Two separate randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, small clinical studies were conducted using a standardized Lycium barbarum fruit juice, GoChi, and assessing its effects on:

(1) resting metabolic rate (RMR) and postprandial energy expenditure (PPEE) as measured by indirect calorimetry after single-bolus intake of 3 doses of L. barbarum (30, 60, and 120 ml) and placebo

(2) waist circumference and other morphometric changes in a 14-day intervention trial (120-ml daily intake) in the subjects (age = 34 years, body mass index = 29 kg/m2).


Results:

(1) A single bolus of L. barbarum intake increased postprandial energy expenditure (PPEE) 1 through 4 hours postintake over the baseline level in a dose-dependent manner and was significantly higher than the placebo group by 10% at 1 hour postintake of 120 ml (p < 0.05).

(2) In a 14-day intervention trial, L. barbarum was found to significantly decrease waist circumference by 5.5 ± 0.8 cm (n = 15) compared with the pre-intervention measurements and placebo group at post-intervention day 15 (p < 0.01). By contrast, the changes in the placebo group (n = 14) from pre-interventions was 0.9 ± 0.8 cm, which was not statistically significant.

Conclusions:

These results show that Lycium barbarum consumption increases metabolic rate and reduces the waist circumference, relative to placebo treated control subjects.

Study 4

Clinical Study Concerning The Effects If Goji Berry On Eye Health

Published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" in 2005, a study titled ‘Neuroprotective effects of Lycium barbarum Lynn on protecting retinal ganglion cells in an ocular hypertension model of glaucoma’ conducted by H.C Chan et al demonstrated that goji berries may help prevent macular degeneration - a condition that can be caused by age and which causes permanent vision loss. Goji berries may be able to help prevent this condition as they contain zeaxanthin, an oxygenated carotenoid that can absorb blue light and protect retinal cells via its antioxidant ability. The study found that the zeaxanthin in goji berries is readily bioavailable and modest daily consumption of the fruit can maintain healthy macula.


Findings:

Glaucoma is one of the major neurological disorders in eye leading to irreversible blindness in elderly. Increase in intraocular pressure (IOP) has been considered to be the major risk factor for the progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in retina. While attenuation of IOP has been a major pharmaceutical target, reduction of IOP cannot prevent progressive loss of RGCs. In this regard, urgent need for alternative treatment has to be investigated.

Anti-ageing medicinal herb Lycium barbarum L. has been used for centuries in Eastern World to protect the eyes and maintain good health. Using an ocular hypertension (OH) model in rat by laser photocoagulation of episcleral and limbal veins, we attempted to investigate whether L. barbarum can promote RGCs survival against elevated IOP.

Oral administration of L. barbarum in Sprague-Dawley rats (250-280 g) significantly reduced the loss of RGCs, although elevated IOP was not significantly altered. Rats fed with the 1 mg/kg extract could nearly totally escape from pressure-induced loss of RGCs.

In conclusion, this is the first in vivo report showing the therapeutic function of L. barbarum against neurodegeneration in the retina of rat OH model. The results demonstrate that this extract may be a potential candidate for the development of neuroprotective drug against the loss of RGCs in glaucoma.

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