A Delicious Fruit from Central
The Tibetan Goji Berry
Sometimes, I am deeply moved to support
the work of a colleague whose endeavors are worthy. In this case,
I have chosen to do what I can to raise awareness surrounding a
marvelous little "happy berry" from the protected valleys
of Central Asia where the berries are either wildcrafted or cultivated.
To prevent oxidation, they are not touched by hands. Rather, the
harvesters shake the large bushes so that the ripe berries fall
onto mats where they are then dried in the shade.
These berries come from Inner Mongolia
where pesticides have never been used. They were imported by the
Tanaduk Institute of Botanical Medicine in cooperation with the
Mongolian Goji Farmers Collective and the Tibetan Medicinal Plant
Cultivation Program. With your purchase of Tibetan goji berries,
you are buying a superb fruit and supporting valuable work in important
ethnobotany and natural medicine.
Goji berries are a specific variety
of lycium, one that is not endangered. I have been working with
lycium for many years already. In the past, I have made liver and
eye tonics out of Chinese lycium berries as well as New Mexican
wolf berries, another variety. I have also made smoothies, either
with just lycium berries and water or with other ingredients such
as lemon or pineapple juice, coconut milk, ginger and/or galangal
juice and slices or even a touch of cardamom. I have made ice cream
(absolutely the best anyone has ever tasted) with lycium berries
and carrot juice with a little coconut, ginger, and cardamom.
Jam made with lycium and schizandra berries is
fabulous. A winter drink such as we Swedes have at Christmas but
made with lycium and fruit juice, cloves stuck into oranges, cinnamon
sticks, star anise, whole green cardamom. in the pods, and perhaps
a handful of galangal or ginger and a few schizandra berries will
not only please guests but substitute for an aperitif or digestive
bitter. It will obviously become more of a tonic and less of a
culinary masterpiece by adding some gentian and Oregon grape root
and perhaps astragalus.
I have bottled lycium occasionally for use as
a blood tonic and I've made the most outrageous fruit leather in
the world by running lycium berries and sesame seeds through a
Champion juicer simultaneously. If you are lazy, you can eat these
little berries like raisins, straight out of the bag or mixed with
granola or tossed into a muffin or pancake mix or casserole.
The Goji Berry
little Tibetan goji berries are plumper than the Chinese
ones, and they taste much better to me. I have been feasting
on them for a week now, and losing about half a pound a day!
The taste is a little hard to describe. It's not quite as
sweet as a raisin and not as tart as a dried cranberry. They
are pleasing to most people. In Tibet and Mongolia, people
love these berries so much that they devote two weeks a year
to celebrating the berries, probably something like wine
fests in Europe in past times. The most commonly cited side
effect of eating too many berries is that they might cause
you to laugh more. It is said that a handful in the morning
will make you happy all day.
They are a very rich source of vitamin C,
having 500 times more vitamin C per ounce than oranges, actually
more almost than any fruit you could name. They are also
a superb source of vitamin A, not surprising because they
are a really pretty red color. Goji berries also have vitamins
B1, B2, B6, and E; they are becoming a famous antioxidant.
They are also a rich source of both selenium and germanium
and have hence been used in a number of clinical trials involving
cancer patients. When given to patients undergoing chemotherapy,
the berries conferred significant protection for the liver.
In Oriental medicine, they are said to correct chi deficiency,
meaning that people with low energy, insomnia, heart palpitations,
and even anxiety are more comfortable after consuming goji
The therapeutic dosage is 10-30 grams per
day, and the berries may be taken at any time and in any
form, from liquid to a snack food. The berries have 18 amino
acids (higher than bee pollen) and 21 trace minerals, linoleic
acid, and more beta carotene than carrots.
In vitro studies suggest that goji berries
kill many kinds of cancer cells. The mechanism whereby this
happens is believed to involve some factor that inhibits
the ability of the cell to divide, thus lowering its reproductive
capacity. A large study in Japan suggested that tumor growth
was inhibited by 58% among the patients eating goji berries
as compared to the control groups. A study in Mongolia showed
that patients eating the goji berries had a significant increase
in lymphocyte activity and that their blood began to resemble
that of much younger persons.
Obviously, I will continue to look for studies
involving the goji berries, but I am certain that anything
one has determined about the medicinal properties of lycium
berries would be as true of goji berries. If my enthusiasm
seems a bit exaggerated and insufferable, blame it on the
little berries that cause so much bliss!
I am distributing these berries as a sort
of favor, kind of like selling Girl Scout cookies. I want
to help the work of Tibetan medicine. Tanaduk is the realm
of the Medicine Buddha, where the plants that cure the 84,000
causes of suffering prepare for their work. My own path has
been closely connected with Tibet for a long time . . . besides
to be happy all day is not to be underestimated.
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman
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on goji berries
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