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Immunomodulatory Effects of a Standardized Lycium Barbarum Fruit Juice in Chinese Older Healthy Human Subjects

Goji berries (Lycium barbarum, wolfberry) grow on an evergreen shrub found in temperate and subtropical regions in China, Mongolia and in the Himalayas in Tibet. They are in the nightshade (Solonaceae) family. Goji berries are usually found dried. They are shriveled red berries that look like red raisins. Goji berries are rich in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as Beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. One of zeaxanthin's key roles is to protect the retina of the eye by absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant. Goji berries have been used for 6,000 years by herbalists in China, Tibet and India to: protect the liver, help eyesight, improve sexual function and fertility, strengthen the legs, boost immune function, improve circulation, and to promote longevity.

Amagase H, sun B, Nance DM. Immunomodulatory effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum fruit juice in Chinese older healthy human subjects. 1. J Med Food. 2009 Oct;12(5):1159-65.

Lycium barbarum has been traditionally used in combination with several herbs for medicinal properties, but systematic modern clinical evaluation as a single herb has not been reported. To examine the systematic effects of L. barbarum on immune function, general well-being, and safety, we tested the effects of a standardized L. barbarum fruit juice (GoChi, FreeLife International, Phoenix, AZ, USA) at 120 mL/day, equivalent to at least 150 g of fresh fruit, the amount traditionally used, or placebo for 30 days in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study in 60 older healthy adults (55-72 years old). The GoChi group showed a statistically significant increase in the number of lymphocytes and levels of interleukin-2 and immunoglobulin G compared to pre-intervention and the placebo group, whereas the number of CD4, CD8, and natural killer cells or levels of interleukin-4 and immunoglobulin A were not significantly altered. The placebo group showed no significant changes in any immune measures. Whereas the GoChi group showed a significant increase in general feelings of well-being, such as fatigue and sleep, and showed a tendency for increased short-term memory and focus between pre- and post-intervention, the placebo group showed no significant positive changes in these measures. No adverse reactions, abnormal symptoms, or changes in body weight, blood pressure, pulse, visual acuity, urine, stool, or blood biochemistry were seen in either group. In conclusion, daily consumption of GoChi significantly increased several immunological responses and subjective feelings of general well-being without any adverse reactions.