Lycium barbarum, a plant with millenary uses
The Lycium barbarum is a plant native to the Asian continent, as well as one of the two species of Lycium that today are commercially presented as Goji. Compared to the other species, L. chinense, L. barbarum is richer in mineral salts, vitamins and antioxidants. Its fruits, known as Goji berries, have been used since ancient times in traditional Chinese medicine for their antioxidant and immunostimulant properties. Thanks to these characteristics, Goji berries are called Himalayan populations "fruit of long life"; in fact, taking Lycium barbarum, in addition to preventing cardio-circulatory diseases and tumors, leads to better concentration and fatigue, improves gastro-intestinal functions and prevents senile and neuro-degenerative diseases.
Properties of Lycium barbarum
As previously mentioned, Lycium barbarum has numerous nutritional and health benefits. First and foremost is the antioxidant property - which gives the berries the name of "longevity fruits" - able to fight free radicals, the main causes of cellular aging and neuro-degenerative diseases. Secondly we find the ability to stimulate the immune defenses, mainly due to the presence of four polysaccharides present only in this species (LPB) and vitamins. Moreover, the Lycium barbarum has antiastenic and energizing properties, which allow it to be used as a natural psycho-physical stimulant. The high content of carotenoids gives the berries the ability to protect blood vessels, improving circulation and visual capacities. Finally, it is used to protect hair, nails and skin thanks to the high content of vitamin A, and as an adjuvant in slimming diets thanks to anthocyanins that counteract the accumulation of fat.
Main constituents of Lycium barbarum
The fruits of Lycium barbarum contain numerous phytochemical constituents, responsible for their prodigious beneficial and healthy properties. Contain vitamin A and C in high concentration, B vitamins (B1, B2, B3), mineral salts (calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, manganese, chromium, copper, etc.), essential and non-essential amino acids , vegetable fatty acids, sterols, flavonoids, betaine and carotenoids (lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene). They also contain four polysaccharides that are unique in the world, the LPB (Lycium Barbarum Polysaccharides), which are responsible for supporting and strengthening the immune system. It is clear from these data that Goji fruits are highly indicated to prevent degenerative diseases, neoplasms, cardiovascular diseases, immunodepression, night vision disorders, stress and fatigue.
The fruits of Lycium barbarum, although they possess amazing health properties, should not be taken in case of proven allergic reactions following exposure to plants of the Solanaceae family (tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, etc.), as this species is part of the same family. Consumption should be avoided when taking anticoagulant and antihypertensive drugs, due to the possible interaction between active ingredients. Consumption is not recommended even in the case of diabetes, in order to avoid excessive lowering of blood glucose levels. Due to the possible allergenicity and the high presence of selenium, intake during pregnancy and lactation is contraindicated.