Scientific name: Lycium chinensis, Lycium barbarum L.
Other names: lycium, matrimony vine fruit, gou qi zi, desert thorn, squawberry.
The wolfberry is a perennial shrub with small red fruits and yellow kidney-form seeds. Its fruits are the most prised part, although the whole plant is healning. The wolfberry shrub id with very strong roots and can thrive for several hundred years, standing up to various temperature conditions and does not have any preferences for climate and soil. The medicinal properties of this herb are known in China since thousands of years. The ancient medical book "Treatise on the herbs are their properties" (Yao Xing Lun) spares a special attention to wolfberry, and points that its fruits "replenish the supply of body fluids, calms the spirit, refreshes the skin, brightens the complexion and strengthens the eyes." In another Chinese classic, "Herbs and Nutrition" (Shi Liao Ben Cao), it is said that wolfberry "strengthens the musscles and tendons, prevents of colds and leadns to longevity." The poet Liu Yuxi of Tang Dynasty (618-907) extols the marvellous effects of the herb in a poem for the wolfberry. In it, he writes that even the water from a well near the plant can help the people attain longevity.
One of the most famous doctors and herbologists in Chinese history, Li Shizhen, hi his celebrated work "Materia Medica" (Ben Can Gang Mu) of 1578, mentions that the residents of Nanqu village in China have the habit of eating wolfberry fruits and almost all of them achieve longevity.
In fact, the wolfberry contributes not only for long life, but is often connected with beauty. In the past, the women of noble families in China have drunk a wolfberry tea in order to look younger and more beautiful. On another hand, the men used wolfberry for increasing their sexual powers. It is not accident that in China there is a proverb: "Those who go faraway from home, should not take a wolfberry!"
The wolfberry fruits are rich in many healthy components, including 18 kinds of amino acids, 21 minerals, 29 kinds of fatty acids, provitamin A (as much as in carrots), vitamin C (as much as in the oranges), vitamin B, especially rich in niacin, betain, polysacharids, and etc.
The wolfberry is sold in the health food stores and the Chinese shops, as well as in some pharmacies. In dried form, the wolfbrery fruits look like raisins with red colour. Used often as a food in the Chinese cuisine, the wolfberry is added to various types of stewed, boiled, fried and baked dishes, made with vegetables, meat, sea products, in soups, porridges, tea, decoctions, cakes, etc. About 10-15 wolfberry fruits are washed and cooked together with the other ingredients. They can also be eaten directly as raisins. The overuse (more than one handful of wolfberry), however, may cause diarrhea or heat in the body.
The fruits of wolfberry posses warm Yang energy and sweet flavor. They enter in the energy meridians of lungs, liver, heart and kidneys. According to Chinese medicine and nutrition, the wolfberry is a blood and energy tonic and treats the following diseases and conditions:
In the recent years, many Chinese and Western scientists report that wolfbery has the function to reinforce the immune system of the body, to overcome fatigue, improve vision, strengthen the liver, decrease the blood sugar, regulate the blood pressure, prevent and treat cancer and tumour formations, regulate the hard alchohol in gall bladder.
The laboratory research show that wolfberry increases the leucocytes within the body, prevents the cells of aging, stimulates the self-regulative functions of DNA and help the aged and diseased cells to transfrm and by this way, to be recovered the normal healthy state of cells.
Japanese scientists have proved that the wolfberry polusacharids stop the growth of cancer cells and that they contain compounds which prevent the cells from mutation. The polysacharids content in wolfberry is between 7 and 13%, while the overall content of sugar is between 22 and 42%.
The wolfberry is considerably helpful in liver cancer. This is because the wolfberry polysacharids have the ability to decrease the oxidation of the fatty substances in the liver cells. As the Chinese doctors say, the wolfberry is the best medicine for tonifying kidneys and liver.