Lycium (Goji Berry)

Lycium (Gou Qi Zi)Lycium/Goji Berry (Gou Qi Zi)

Botanical Name: Western – Lycium, L. barbarum, L. afrum. Eastern – L. barbarum, L. chinense, Fructus Lychii Chinensis.

Chinese legends claim that a Taoist monk lived to be 252 years old by including lycium berries in his daily tonic. Famous for aiding a long, healthy life and longevity, lycium is also known as an excellent blood tonic.

Below is an overview of Lycium (Goji Berry), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Lycium (Goji Berry).

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Western Name: Lycium (Goji Berry)

Also Known As: Boxthorn, Desert-Thorn, Wolfberry, Barberry Matrimony Vine

Organs/Systems: Lungs, Blood

Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Blood and Liver Tonic, Anti-fungal, Hypoglycemic.


Pin Yin: Gou Qi Zi

Also Known As: Goji Berry, Chinese Wolfberry, Matrimony Vine Fruit

Meridians: Liver, Kidney, Lung

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Nourishes and Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys: patterns of Yin and Blood (Xue) deficiency, low back pain, nocturnal emissions, wasting and thirsting disorders, consumption. Benefits Jing (Essence)/Brightens the Eyes: eye conditions caused by Kidney or Liver deficiency, dizziness, blurred vision. Enriches Yin/Moistens the Lungs: consumption.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Lycium is a genus of plants in the nightshade Solanaceae family. There are about 70-80 different species. It is a thorny shrub with small, narrow and fleshy leaves that are alternately arranged. They have funnel or bell-shaped flowers that are white, green or purple in color. The berries are red, orange or black with a few seeds or many. Most lycium species are monoecious, producing bisexual flowers.

Lycium grows in most places around the world where temperate and subtropical climates occur. South America has the most species. The Chinese species, L. chinese, is native to China.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Berry, Root Bark, but also the Leaves and Flowers can be used.

Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Neutral

Caution: Considered very safe.

History/Folklore:  Lycium has been used by European herbalists since ancient times and was traded from the Far East by Romans. Pliny the Elder of Ancient Rome, describes boxthorn (lycium) as a medicinal plant used to treat sore eyes and inflammation. In the biblical Book of Proverbs, boxthorn is said to, “beset the path of the wicked.”

The herb was originally recorded for medicinal purposes in China in the Book of Songs, giving it more than 3,000 years of history.  It has long been classified as one of the fundamental herbs in Chinese Medicine.

The Chinese character “gou” also relates to “dog” or “wolf”, hence the plant is also called “wolfberry.” In Southern China, wolves were viewed as bad omens, but in Northern China they were considered sacred and the image was often used on weapons, amulets and furniture. The wolf was considered to be a symbol of manhood, courage, teamwork and strength, all characteristics associated with the healing powers of lycium.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, lycium has long been used to treat male infertility. It is famous as a Liver and Blood (Xue) tonic. The herb increases vitality and brightens the eyes, especially improving night vision. They are known to calm the heart and nervous system as well as strengthen the legs, as they improve blood circulation. The berries also help cells to absorb more nutrients from the system.

Lycium roots are used to cool hot blood, thereby lowering fevers, improving irritability and sweating. The roots are also used in China to help treat people suffering from hypertension. The roots can be harvested at any time of year, but generally they are harvested in the spring.

Good quality lycium berries are bright red, tender and sweet. If they have turned brown or brownish-red, are dried up or are not sweet, they are too old.

A combination of lycium and schizandra is one of China’s most famous tonics. In folk medicine, 10g of this herb can be steamed and taken 2-3 times daily to treat wasting and thirsting disorder. Many people will squeeze the juice out of the lycium berries using this concentrated liquid as a drink.

As lycium is neither hot nor cold, it can be used to treat both hot and cold conditions without further exasperating either condition.

Key Constituents:

Berries: Betaine, Carotene, Physalien, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Vitamin A C, B1, and B2, Linoleic acid. Roots: Cinnamic acid, Pysllic acid, Calcium, Zinc, Iron, Copper, Chromium, Magnesium and others.

Did you know?

Eye Treatment

The Chinese tonic, Fructus Lycii (Gou Qi Zi), is made from the fruit of several species of lycium and is used as a supplement, to especially treat the eyes.


Tree of the Jews

In the Muslim text, Sahih Muslim, lycium is described as “the tree of the Jews,” as the plant hid Jews running from persecution.

Fun fact!

Brighten Your Spirit

In China, it is said that lycium brightens the spirit.


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ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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