Goji Berries Enhance Mental and Physical Performance

Summary
Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) has been used for centuries in Asian countries as an herbal remedy for several ailments. Recently, studies have shown that extracts of this fruit may have beneficial effects including brain protection, diabetes control, anti-tumor fighting and immune-system booster. The authors of this 15-day study have shown that daily consumption of a standardized juice made from this berry improves mental and psychological performance in humans, reduces stress and fatigue and enhances gastrointestinal function, but does not work on cardiovascular or musculoskeletal problems.

Introduction
The purported health benefits of goji berry have been known to the Asian population for more than 2,500 years. Although it is widely used for its medicinal properties in vision, aging, liver and kidney function, it is only in recent times that scientific evidence of its health benefits has emerged. Studies on extracts of the goji fruit have indicated “a range of biological activities including effects on aging, neuroprotection, antifatigue/endurance, increased metabolism, glucose control in diabetics, glaucoma, antioxidant properties, immunomodulation, anti-tumor activity, and cytoprotection,” according to the study authors. The authors of this study wanted to examine the general effects of daily consumption of goji berry in adults.

Methodology
•    A standardized preparation containing the extract of goji berry (10 percent) was used in this study. This was compared to a similar tasting preparation without the berry extract.
•    Healthy adults were divided into two groups; each received either berry extract or a non-berry preparation for 15 days.
•    Questionnaires at the beginning and end of the 15-day period were used to assess physical fitness, memory, sleep, heart health, the digestive system, and mental and psychological well being.

Results
•    Individuals taking the berry extract reported improvement in their ability to focus, sleep, mental sharpness, feelings of happiness, well being and calmness, energy levels and athletic performance.
•    Goji berry use was associated with a decrease in feelings of stress and tiredness.
•    The placebo group reported only a change in happiness and heartburn.
•    People taking the goji berry reported improvement in athletic performance and bowel performance.

Shortcomings
This small study used questionnaires, which rely on self reporting and do not use standardized measures of variables like athletic performance. No biochemical parameters or physiological tests were used in this study. Also, no upper “safe” limit of consumption has been provided. Future studies should be on large groups, and must analyze and quantify the biochemical and physiological effects of the goji berry in humans.

Conclusion
Past animal- and lab-based studies highlighted the positive biochemical effects of goji berry. This current study has shown that, in agreement with its traditional use, the berry improves feeling of well being and may enhance mental and physical performance. Future studies may possibly elaborate on the detailed mechanism of how the active ingredients in goji berry work. While the safe limits of consumption are still unknown, occasional or daily use of small amounts of this berry seem to be beneficial and safe. Since goji berry is also traditionally used for diabetes treatment, this berry may also be studied for its potential in the treatment of metabolic diseases.

For More Information:
A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Clinical Study of the General Effects of a Standardized Lycium Barbarum (Goji) Juice, Gochi
Publication Journal: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2008
By Harunobu Amagase, PhD; Dwight M. Nance, PhD; FreeLife International, LLC, Phoenix, Arizona and the University of California, Irvine

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.