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Discover the Amazing Wolfberry Fruit

Aug 17, 2007
The latin name of Wolfberry fruit is Fructus Lycii. Wolfberry fruit is used extensively in Chinese herbalism. The fruits are the berries of Lycium chinense and more commonly Lycium barbarum. The roots also have healing properties. Native to East Asia and Europe, it grows wild on hillsides in the cooler regions of northern China and Europe. However, it is also grown as a cultivated plant in almost all parts of China and in some other regions of Asia, as well as naturalized in Britain, the Middle East and North America.

Wolfberry fruit is a shrub that grows to about 2.5 m by 2 m at a medium rate. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees. The plant can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

In China, the best wolfberry fruits are produced in the provinces Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai. Its tender leaves are edible and the fruits and roots are used as medicinal foods. The bright red berries are usually harvested in late summer or early autumn when the fruit is mature, dried in the shade until the cortex is wrinkled, and dried in the sun until the fruit is crusted with the pulp still soft. It is used unprepared. The roots are usually harvested in the spring, although they can be dug any time of the year. The roots can be used either fresh or dried.

It is also called Lycium Fruit, Matrimony Vine Fruit, Chinese Desertthorn Fruit, Box Thorn Fruit and Chinese Wolfberry Fruit.

It has sweet in flavor, mild in nature; it is related to the liver, kidney and lung channels.

The first recorded use of wolfberry fruit as a medicinal herb is from the first century A.D. For thousands of years it is used as both a yin tonic for liver and kidney, and as a blood tonic.

Wolfberry fruit possesses an action antagonistic to fat deposition, especially in the liver. So it is often applied in obese patients and in liver disease with lipidosis. It lowers the level of blood sugar and is beneficial to diabetes.

It has the properties to treat aching and general weakness due to deficient kidney, manifesting dizziness, impaired eyesight, tinnitus (ringing noise in the ears), impotence, weak waist and knee; to treat weak or blurred vision due to yin deficiency of the liver and kidney.

Wolfberry fruit is often used in combination with rehmannia root, dodder seed, dogwood fruit and other herbs for tonifying the liver and kidney.

The food-herb is often used in combination with chrysanthemum flower, rehmannia root, Chinese yam and other herbs for nourishing yin and improving vision, such as Qi Ju Dihuang Pill.

To treat diabetes mellitus (relative or absolute lack of insulin leading to uncontrolled carbohydrate metabolism)

Wolfberry fruit is rich in carotene, vitamins B1, B12 and C. The fruit also contains amino acids, zeaxanthin, betaine, physalien, B-ergosteriod, iron, and trace elements essential to the body, including zinc, copper, selenium, calcium, and phosphorus.

Wolfberry fruit has the effects of enhancing phagocytosis (uptake of material, such as microorganisms or cell fragments into a cell) of the reticuloendothelial system (including the fixed macrophages of tissues, liver and spleen), increasing peripheral white blood cells, enhancing humoral and cellular immunity and promoting hematopoietic (give rise to distinct daughter blood cells) function.

Betaine, a biological stimulant, has the effects of stimulating growth, reducing blood sugar and blood lipid, inhibiting the fat deposition in liver cells and promoting the regeneration of liver cells. The herb has the cholinomimetic effects of reducing blood pressure, inhibiting the heart, exciting intestines, and has estrogen-like effects.

It was demonstrated that this fruit yields a prominent action in protecting the liver from lipid accumulation. When mice were poisoned with CC1 in the laboratory, those receiving administration of extracts from this fruit yielded no liver function impairment, while the control group, which received no protection, were mostly poisoned and killed.

In Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with the function of the eyes. Wolfberry fruit is used as a liver tonic to brighten the eyes, improve poor eyesight, treat blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and other general eye weaknesses.

One of the qualities ascribed to wolfberry root is that it "cools the blood." It is used to reduce fever and to treat other conditions of "excess heat." These include traditional uses to relieve excess sweating, stop nosebleeds, reduce vomiting, and treat dizziness.

Some herbalists use a tea made of wolfberry root and Scutellaria (skullcap or Huang Qin) to treat morning sickness in pregnant women. Wolfberry is also used to treat certain types of coughs and asthma.

Wolfberry fruit has been shown to inhibit gene mutation and the growth of cancer cells.

Other studies from China show an extract from wolfberry fruit inhibits the gene mutation induced by TA98 and TA100 (16). Some scientists believe that wolfberry fruit may be a very good supplement to prevent liver cancer because it exerts liver protection and anticancer effects at the same time.
Another study from China found wolfberries exerts hepaprotection through inhibiting the lipid peroxidation of liver cells in aging mice.

Wolfberries help to repair liver cell injury induced by CCl4 and facilitate recovery from hepatic necrosis.

A study in China showed wolfberries facilitated stem cell proliferation and increased the number of monocytes in bone marrow. Wolfberries help the monocytes to convert to matured leukocytes.

Wolfberry fruits were very popular for their vision improvement properties in ancient China. Modern Chinese scientists found wolfberry fruits reduce dark adapting time and improve vision under subdued light.
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