The Ninxia Wolfberry is much discussed and though much maligned in some quarters it is venerated in others. So what is the truth and does it actually exist?
As a natural skeptic when it comes to “alternative health” products I was intrigued to find out more.
Firstly, I would like to take a look at the confusion between the Chinese Ningxia Wolfberry and the Tibetan Gogi Berry.
Let’s start with an example. How about that well known fruit/vegetable. Lycopersicon esculentum: confused? Well it’s just a tomato! But is it a Cherry, Black, Beefsteak, Striped, Plum? It doesn’t matter, it’s still a tomato of the family Solanaceae. The genus is Lycopersicon and the species esculentum. The other names above are just varieties.
It seems that a lot of the arguments about the Ninxia Wolfberry stem from the confusion between species and variety.
The Gogi berry is found in large areas of China and Tibet. Over the years different varieties have formed as an adaptation to climate and soil conditions. But, they are still the Gogi/Wolfberry: Lycium barbarus or sometimes Lycium barbarum. It is often claimed that there is a specific difference between Lycium barbarus and Lycium chinensis. I think it more likely that there is one species Lycium barbarus and the Ningxia Wolfberry aka Lycium chinensis, is in fact, a variety.
Having said all that, it must be recognised that the previously differences in climate and soil have a tremendous influence on the resulting fruit. Again as a documented example, the soil in the UK has become depleted in Selenium over the years. accordingly the levels found in vegetables of this crucial trace element vary according to where they are grown. So it is with Gogi/Ninxia Wolfberry the best conditions and husbandry bring the greatest benefits.
Chinese people have been consuming Ninxia Wolfberry to prevent macular degeneration and blurry vision for more than one thousand years. Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners have also employed wolfberry in herbal formulas. Modern science has now discovered that wolfberry fruit contained substantial amounts of pro-vitamin A: beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin.
The Ningxia Wolfberry contains 18 out of 20 amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. The 20 standard amino acids also serve as raw materials for the manufacture of many other cellular products, such as enzymes, hormones, and antibodies in the immune system. Several of these amino acids are key intermediates in cellular metabolism.
In a study carried out by Ning Xia Medical University, thirty healthy people between 60 and 80 years of age consumed 50g of wolfberry per day. After 10 days, blood samples were drawn to measure the level of SCE (Sister Chromatid Exchange. This is a frequently used marker for genetic toxicity relating to aging and the cancer process. SCE levels are lower in the young than that in older people) and lymph cell proliferation. It was found that after taking Ningxia Wolfberry, the SCE declined and lymph cell proliferation improved
Ningxia Wolfberry versus Tibetan Goji Berry The Goji Berry and Wolfberry both contain very high levels of Antioxidants, Vitamins and Minerals, but the quantities and taste can vary. Gogi berries and it’s liquid form – gogi juice are freely available. There is some dispute as to whether the altitude of the region of tibet where the gogi berries are said to come from can actually support flora of this nature. It does seem though that the health benefits of the Ninxia Wolfberry, based on it’s known nutritional value, offers the most promise.
They are also a rich source of both selenium and germanium and have therefore have evoked considerable interest from Oncologists leading to use in a number of clinical trials involving cancer patients. When given to patients undergoing chemotherapy, the berries seemed to offer significant protection for the patient’s liver.
To cut through the hype and confusion, the best advice is to start with the finest organic, whole Ningxia Wolfberries grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Good quality soil and cultivation will ensure optimum nutritional value. Only Ningxia wolfberries appear possess a legendary reputation and scientific validation, combined with a delicious taste.