- Latin: Lycium ruthenicum
- Chinese: 黑果枸杞
- English: Black Goji
What are Black Goji Berries 黑枸杞?
Grown high on the Tibetan plateau in western China, is a thorny flowering plant whose family is commonly known as the Russian box thorn in Europe. One of these, is the Lycium ruthenicum, that bears black berries called in Chinese – ‘Heigouqi’ 黑枸杞 or Black Goji.
A relative of the more commonly known red Goji berries (Lycium barbarum) sometimes called ‘wolfberries‘, the Black Goji berries are by contrast only available wild and harvested by natives living in the Qinghai 青海 province high on the Tibetan plateau.
What is so special about Black Goji Berries 黑枸杞?
It was only recently discovered in 2008, that Black Goji contains the highest concentration of OPC. OPC stands for oligomeric proanthocyanidins. They are a group of powerful antioxidant compounds mostly found in blueberries and grape seed. OPC is known to fight damages caused by free radicals. Research has shown that OPC help make blood vessels more elastic and less likely to break or leak.
What are the medicinal properties of Black Goji Berries 黑枸杞?
Like its red counterpart, Black Goji Berries contain large concentrations of vitamins B12 and C. Comparatively, Black Goji has more trace amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper, while it has lower amounts of potassium and manganese. Its colour also betrays a certain amount of cobalt and nickel.
But most of the properties pertain to its OPC levels, currently the highest in the world.
Improvement of eyesight
Black Goji was first used by locals to treat blindness in camels! Apparently, Black Goji berries are really good for preventing a further deterioration of myopia and long-sightedness.
In its dry and cold environment, Black Goji berries were eaten to prevent thirst. If you are someone who drinks excessively, taking Black Goji will help you break that cycle.
Prevents the ageing of the skin
OPC in Black Goji helps to repair sun-damaged skin cells.
Fight cancer cells
Many people believe that regular consumption of Black Goji berries helps fight against cancer cells, or damages caused by them.
When should you not consume Black Goji?
At the first glance, Black Goji sounds too good to be true.
Many of the information floating around the internet about Black Goji are not based on scientific research and proper testing. While the chemical composition of Black Goji is true, it should not be considered as a silver bullet against cancer or against ageing.
In Chinese medicine, goji berries are both a medicine and a poison. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Goji berries and in particular the Black Goji, “raise blood temperature” (温热). Their consumption is not advised for people who are ‘hot-blooded‘, i.e. they also exhibit typically ‘hot-tempered’ behaviour. This will in turn lead to excess fire in their liver (内热) and brings about an imbalance linked to pains in the head, neck and sinus regions.
How do you consume Black Goji?
Many people make an infusion with Black Goji and after drinking the infusion, eat the berries.
You must note that the OPC content is destroyed if the water temperature is too high. Water temperature must not exceed 60 degree celsius or 140 fahrenheit.
Black Goji also releases different colours when infused in different types of water.
Normal boiled tap water will release a blue infusion.
When you add boiled mineral water, Black Goji will release a purple hue after interacting with the additional trace elements in the water.