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Goji berries: do they stand up to the hype?

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Goji berries: do they stand up to the hype?

Goji berries are also known as wolf berries from a plant primarily grown in southeastern Europe and Asia.  That are claimed to have some pretty decent healing powers such as anti-aging, and are claimed to be the healthiest food source in the world; being jam packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  Each company that sells its Goji products claims that they have "scientific research" to back up their claims of this amazing berry and the numerous health benefits, but it is impossible to find said research.

What nutrients do Goji berries contain?
Low amounts of calcium
Potassium
Iron
Zinc
Selenium
Vitamin B12
Vitamin C

Health Benefits?
There was one weak study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that showed no health benefits between the Goji berries and the placebo, but they claimed that it could be helpful and needed further studying. All of the claims that were made on one particular infomercial stating that Sloan Kettering in NY found that Goji helped to cure breast cancer were false claims and it has never even been studied in that hospital.  Basically every study claim related to Goji's in advertisements are false or not reproducible.

Any bad side effects?
There have been two reported cases of older adults had serious medical complications after using Goji products because it interacts with the blood thinner coumadin (warfarin) by increasing the effects allowing for increased bleeding times.  This can easily put people at harm and lead to certain death, because the interaction is not completely understood, therefore it will make it very difficult for medical professionals to treat and reverse the effects and increased bleeding times.

This is an unregulated product, just like many other health supplements.  The FDA has put a few companies that made claims of healing on warning, as it is not a medication regulated by the FDA and companies cannot claim that is it used as a treatment or cure, as well there has been a class action suit against one certain Goji product company due to false claims and misinterpretations of their products, and results from clients.   It is a fruit with various vitamins and minerals that you body can use an absorb.  Is it the healthiest thing that will every cross your lips?  Probably not, but it isn't the worst either.  Based on the lack of ability to prove the benefits of this fruit in research, and the cost of buying Gojis (not to mention the taste- I dubbed them "poop berries" in my house"- yuck) it is not worth it.  But, if you do choose to add Goji to your diet, just make sure to talk to your HCP if you are on and medications before you start the regimen, and stop if you notice any symptoms that are uncomfortable and tell your HCP so that you can be worked up for a possible interaction, and ensure your health and safety.

Yours in Good Health

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