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Lycium Barbarum, Wolfberry Plant

Aug 17, 2007
Lycium barbarum is big bush growing till 2.5 m or even 4 m at an average rate. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds develop from August to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

The plant prefers light, medium and heavy soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
The berries are currently being marketed as another wonder health product, like Noni, Mangosteen and Hoodia have been recently. It appears they have many health benefits as well as being delicious.
The plant is known for its medicinal properties.

Lycium Barbarum have long played important roles in traditional Chinese medicine, where they are believed to strengthen immune system functioning, better eyesight, protect the liver and meliorate blood circulation, among other effects. In TCM terms, wolfberries are sweet in taste and neutral in nature; they act on the liver, lung, and kidney channels. They can be eaten raw, consumed as juice or wine, brewed up into a tea, or done as a tincture.

Lycium barbarum contains significant quantity of daily macronutrient components, carbohydrates, protein, fat and dietary fiber. 68% of the amount of dried wolfberries is as carbohydrate, 12% as protein, and 10% each as fiber and fat, which in sum gives a total caloric value in a 100 gram serving of 370 (kilo) calories, of which 272 come from carbohydrates, and 90 of which come from fat.
Wolfberries fruit have very good source of vitamins.

The fruit contains vitamins B1, B6, A, C and E. The wolfberries fruits contain also 19 amino acids in which 8 of them are essential for life, 21 trace minerals (zinc, iron, copper, calcium, selenium, phosphorus and germanium), more beta carotene than carrots, essential fatty acids for the production of hormones and the functioning of the brain and nervous system. Wolfberries fruits contain the richest source of carotenoids, Beta Sitosterol, Zeaxanthin, Lutine, Betaine, Cyperone, Solavetivone, Physalin, etc.

A big role in maintaining all the above mentioned components plays the differences in the degree of berry ripening at the time of picking, soil conditions they were plant in and geographic region where the berries were grown, post-harvest handling and processing, duration of storage, redundant water content and testing can significantly affect individual nutrient contents, especially those for vitamins and phytochemicals.

There are a great number of studies, mostly from China, that treat the probable medicinal benefits of Lycium barbarum, mostly because of its antioxidant features, including possible treatment of the cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, vision-related diseases, having neuroprotective properties or as an anticancer and immunomodulatory agent. But even if these researches have been done they are still skeptically welcomed by western science, and are not yet approved as clinical conclusions, or accepted by regulatory authorities.

A sweet tonic decoction made from the fruits is used to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. The fruit is taken internally in the treatment of high blood pressure, diabetes, vertigo, lumbago, impotence and menopausal complaints. The fruit is harvested when fully ripe and is dried for later use. The root bark is a bitter, cooling, antibacterial herb that controls coughs and lowers fevers, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. It is taken internally in the treatment of chronic fevers, internal hemorrhages, nosebleeds, tuberculosis, coughs, asthma etc.

It is applied externally to treat genital itching. The bark is harvested in the winter and dried for later use. The plant has a long history of medicinal use, both as a general, energy restoring tonic and also to cure a wide range of ailments from skin rashes and eyesight problems to diabetes. A tonic tea is made from the leaves.

The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavones and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers.

A human supplementation study showed that a daily intake of wolfberries increased plasma Zeaxanthin levels.

At the laboratory of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Department of Anatomy, of the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong there have been a research analyzing the effects of Lycium barbarum on against anti-aging process of humans.

Due to the fact that the number of aged population dramatically increases many new diseases appears which comes as a result of ageing. One such disease is Alzheimer's disease (AD). Natural plant extracts of Lycium barbarum are well-known to exhibit anti-aging effects.

The scientists therefore hypothesized that they exhibit neuroprotective effects against toxins in aging-related neurodegenerative diseases. Study on anti-aging herbal medicine like Lycium barbarum may open a new therapeutic window for the prevention of AD.

Although no records of toxicity have been seen, some caution should be exercised with this species, particularly with regard to its edible leaves, since it belongs to a family that often contains toxins. However, use of the leaves is well documented and fairly widespread in some areas. The unripe fruit might also be suspect though the ripe fruit is wholesome.
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