Is Goji Juice the Chinese / Himalayan Elixir of Youth?

Chinese / Himalayan Goji juice, derived from the Chinese Ningxia Gouqi berry (in Tibet known as Dretsherma), and in English called Wolfberry (also Lycium Fruit in Latin pharmacology terms), is being touted as a miracle juice – the elixir of youth – due to it’s antioxidant properties, high vitamin C content and ancient medicinal benefits. Manufacturers and distributors of goji juice in the United States / Europe promote it as a means of combating cardiovascular diseases, aiding the immune system, acting as a neural stimulant, serving as a potent anti-inflammatory agent, helping vision problems such as glaucoma, reversing the effects of aging by inhibiting macro degradation due to antioxidants, as well as proclaiming it to be a means to prevent (potentially treat) cancer.

Is Goji juice the elixir of youth and cancer cure the world’s been searching for?

While traditional Chinese medicine has long used the dried gouqi berry as part of full body healing therapies (mixed with numerous other herbs), and the small red berries (whole / sun dried) are used in tonic soups and found in rice dishes (which this writer has often eaten with delight) as well as part of popular dried fruit mixes, drinking copious quantities of the berry extract, in the way goji juice is presented to consumers in western countries, is not so common. The bottles of goji extract are small, used as a tonic.

There’s no question that whole goji berries, prepared as part of the medicinal formulas offered by natural professionals in the East, are beneficial for a variety of ailments and to strengthen the body – especially as a means to prevent infection and stimulate the immune system. The whole berry is indeed an astounding little fruit that contains a surprising amount of essential minerals, amino acids, linoleic acid, polysaccharides, monosaccharides, unsaturated fatty acids, beta-sitosterol, phytosterols, carotenoids such as beta-carotene and a variety of phenols (pigments) which are potent antioxidants. WHOLE dried berries contain calcium and potassium, as well as iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and are extremely high in vitamin C. Polysaccharides, such as chitin, which comprises the main part of the berry’s pulp, is known for it’s ability to help the body heal more effectively.

If the whole berry is so great, then the juice must be even better!!!

That’s part of the problem with what happens when Eastern therapies / Chinese medicinal preparations (or unusual Brazilian fruits / tropical herbs) are introduced to the West as miraculous remedies. Traditionally, most herbs, berries, fruits, leaves or plants are used as WHOLE foods as part of a natural diet – not isolated from the entire plant or fruit. All sorts of problems arise when a small red berry, part of a tonic in China, is juiced and sold in concentrated form to treat serious ailments. The idea that if a dried berry is good, then the concentrated extract must be even better, isn’t necessarily true.

The Sad Truth About Goji Juice Marketing in the West

There’s a unique phenomena of “marketing strategy” involved in western distribution of goji juice (and many herbal formulas that originate abroad) that doesn’t exist in the East. For example in Taiwan, you can go to a certified herbal doctor (exactly as you would a physician) and get a prescription for a variety of herbs, and goji berries may be included in a small paper envelope, as one element of the balanced and personalized prescription. You can also buy dried goji at supermarkets, from street vendors or by the scoopful in market herbal stalls. .

The berries can be chewed (although some are a little bitter) or put in hot water to make tea or added to broth for soup, and that’s that! They’re recommended when you have an infection or a cold and when there’s an indication you need to boost your immune system.

But in the west, Himalayan, Tibetan or Chinese goji juice is mysterious and powerful. Marketing companies jump on the “Eastern health food craze” band wagon and promote the juice as a cancer cure, and celebrities avow it’s an age retarding miracle elixir. In the East, it’s a little berry you carry in your pocket and chew if you feel a cold or flue coming on, and a little something that grandma puts in the soup during cold winter months if she thinks you look a bit too pale.

Keeping the benefits of the dried berries and goji juice in balance

Goji is a great addition to a healthy diet, a supplement that offers numerous nutritional and vitamin/mineral benefits proven over time in traditional medicine, however, beware of marketing gimmicks and outrageous statements from companies who promote goji juice as a “cure” for any ailment or disease. Be aware that certain goji juice companies have received warnings from the FDA for making false or unsubstantiated claims; one company has made false statements regarding specific cancer studies having been conducted which were later discovered to be untrue. There have been lawsuits against goji berry juice distributors for making misleading or downright false statements regarding the ability of goji to treat and cure cancer.

The benefits of goji are abundant, so are the benefits of green tea, ginseng, ginger and thousands of other natural Chinese herbs and plants that healers have used for centuries in the east – but keep things in perspective. In Asia, goji isn’t necessarily the elixir of youth, nor is it prescribed as a cure for cancer. It’s ONE ingredient naturists use to help their patients regain overall balance of their body.

For more tips on nutritional products which have the ability to improve your health you should read about Noni Juice and Aloe Vera Juice benefits.

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About the editor

Nena Argent, editorial director of EbT magazine since 2009, oversees online editorial content in English and Spanish. She joined EbT after ten years as an investigative journalist in Asia where she researched oriental health, nutrition and beauty treatments. Now based in Europe, she reports on the latest beauty trends, health issues, high-tech medical advancements and state-of-the-art cosmetic procedures from around the world.

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