Chinese Name: Gou qi zi
Medical Name: Fructus Lycii
Latin Name: Lycium barbarum L., of the family Solanaceae
Origin: Fruit, dried.
Taste: Sweet in flavor

Quotes from Chinese historical sources

VARIORUM OF THE HERBAL CLASSIC OF SHEN-NONG: "Nourishes the vital essence, and strengthens the muscles of the vagina."

TANG YI MATERIA MEDICA: "Alleviates chronic thirst, and eliminates internal diseases caused by nephropathy."

Western Research

Life Sci. 2005 Mar 18;76(18):2115-24.
Effect of lycium barbarum polysaccharide on human hepatoma QGY7703 cells: inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis
Zhang M, Chen H, Huang J, Li Z, Zhu C, Zhang S.
Department of Food Science and Bioengineering, Tianjin University of Science and Technology, Tianjin 300222, PR China.
Lycium barbarum polysaccharide (LBP), extracted from Lycium barbarum that is a kind of traditional Chinese herb, is found to have anticancer activity. In this study, the effect of LBP on the proliferation rate, cell cycle distribution and apoptosis in the human hepatoma QGY7703 cell line were investigated. The effects of this compound were also tested on the concentration of calcium in cells. LBP treatment caused inhibition of QGY7703 cell growth with cycle arrest in S phase and apoptosis induction. The amount of RNA in cells and the concentration of intracellular Ca2+ were increased. Moreover, the distribution of calcium in cells was changed. Taken together, the study suggests that the induction of cell cycle arrest and the increase of intracellular calcium in apoptotic system may participate in the antiproliferative activity of LBP in QGY7703 cells.

Br J Nutr. 2005 Jan;93(1):123-30
Fasting plasma zeaxanthin response to Fructus barbarum L. (wolfberry; Kei Tze) in a food-based human supplementation trial
Cheng CY, Chung WY, Szeto YT, Benzie IF.
Antioxidant Research Group, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common disorder that causes irreversible loss of central vision. Increased intake of foods containing zeaxanthin may be effective in preventing AMD because the macula accumulates zeaxanthin and lutein, oxygenated carotenoids with antioxidant and blue light-absorbing properties. Lycium barbarum L. is a small red berry known as Fructus lycii and wolfberry in the West, and Kei Tze and Gou Qi Zi in Asia. Wolfberry is rich in zeaxanthin dipalmitate, and is valued in Chinese culture for being good for vision. The aim of this study, which was a single-blinded, placebo-controlled, human intervention trial of parallel design, was to provide data on how fasting plasma zeaxanthin concentration changes as a result of dietary supplementation with whole wolfberries. Fasting blood was collected from healthy, consenting subjects; fourteen subjects took 15 g/d wolfberry (estimated to contain almost 3 mg zeaxanthin) for 28 d. Repeat fasting blood was collected on day 29. Age- and sex-matched controls (n 13) took no wolfberry. Responses in the two groups were compared using the Mann-Whitney test. After supplementation, plasma zeaxanthin increased 2.5-fold: mean values on day 1 and 29 were 0.038 (sem 0.003) and 0.096 (sem 0.009) micromol/l (P<0.01), respectively, for the supplementation group; and 0.038 (sem 0.003) and 0.043 (sem 0.003) micromol/l (P>0.05), respectively, for the control group. This human supplementation trial shows that zeaxanthin in whole wolfberries is bioavailable and that intake of a modest daily amount markedly increases fasting plasma zeaxanthin levels. These new data will support further study of dietary strategies to maintain macular pigment density.

Phytomedicine. 2005 Jan;12(1-2):131-7.
Lycium barbarum glycoconjugates: effect on human skin and cultured dermal fibroblasts
Zhao H, Alexeev A, Chang E, Greenburg G, Bojanowski K.
Sunny BioDiscovery, Inc., 675 Hegenberger Road, 2nd floor, Oakland 94621, CA, USA.
Lycium barbarum L. (Solanaceae) glycoconjugates (LbGp) display an interesting array of anti-apoptotic and antioxidant properties, which may be beneficial for human skin. We therefore set out to determine the effects of LbGp in full-thickness human skin, and in dermal fibroblasts. It was found that LbGp decreased the level of MMP (matrix metalloproteinase)-1 significantly, but not that of MMP-3 or -13, in the whole human skin system, without compromising the viability of the skin. Consistently, LbGp inhibited skin expansion under mechanical stress, which in this model depends on the activity of MMP-1. We found that one of L. barbarum glycoconjugates, the LbGp5, promoted the survival of human fibroblasts cultured in suboptimal conditions. Furthermore, in the presence of LbGp5, these cultures also contained higher levels of the MMP-1 substrate--collagen type I. Together these results suggest that L. barbarum glycoconjugates in general, and LbGp5 in particular, may have important skin-protective properties.

J Tradit Chin Med 1989 Jun;9(2):117-24
A study on the anti-cancer effect of ningxia wolfberry.
Hu Q, Jia BL, Gao TS, E ZE, Gao YJ, Huo LM.
[No translation available]