Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Deanna
Posted on: April 07, 2006

I was hoping that you would be kind enough to locate some information on the GOJI BERRY or LYCIUM BARBARUM, also known as the CHINESE WOLFBERRY. I am interested in first hand information through Tibet if possible, as the product is being marketed, and has some very high medicinal benefits being made. I could not find any information on your website so was hoping that you would be able to either have this data or be able to direct me to a source that may.

Tibetan or himalayan gojiberry has become the subject of very aggressive marketing in the U.S. and Canada in the last few years. It claimed to be a cure for many serious diseases including cancer and other chronic and degenerative diseases. Whether or not there is any merit to these claims we cannot say at this time. However, we do have misgivings about the way the herb is presented by marketers, misgivings that leave us wondering how true some of the claims really are.

Although you have made the connection between gojiberry and chinese wolfberry, marketers have been adamant that gojiberry is not the same as chinese wolfberry at all. The literature we have seen lists its botanical name as Lycium eleagnus pungens, a name with no botanical standing. It appears to have been made up as a way of distinguishing gojiberry from the much cheaper and widely available chinese wolfberry, known botanically as Lycium barbarum or Lycium chinensis. We believe that gojiberry is in fact identical to the chinese wolfberry. It is worth noting that the Chinese name for wolfberry is "gou qi zi" or "gou gi zi". "Zi" means "berry" or "seed"; "qi" is pronounced as "chi".

There is no doubt that chinese wolfberry is a valuable medicinal herb. It has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine. It strengthens muscle and bone, improves liver function, boosts the immune system, among other effects. It is also used as a culinary herb: the leaves as a cooked green and the berries as a snack or added to soups and stews.

As a grower and merchant of herb plants and seeds, I am always interested in herbs new to me and new to my customers. Goji berry may well be everything that it is claimed to be, but the current marketing practices leave me a bit cold.

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