Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dr Paul M Gross and Ripe Wolberries on Vines, Ningxia, China


Blogger PMG said...

I can resume this discussion about wolfberries by updating the audience on publication of a new book by the founder of Young Living Essential Oils, Gary Young, ND. Young has been instrumental in popularizing wolfberry juice via the internet and his MLM company, Young Living. Ningxia Red juice

is an excellent puree/juice product and the information about wolfberries at its foundation is as accurate as one can likely get on the internet.

Until this blog, that is.

Young Living has a history as a naturopathic products company, so is subject to vagaries of soft- or pseudoscience and acceptance of any publication as "proof" that a health effect exists.

With wolfberries as an example topic, Young Living makes unfounded, broad claims about wolfberry's health benefits, but none of these would be acceptable to stringent scientific organizations like the FDA, Health Canada or IFT.

The wolfberry book I authored, by contrast, was written to shed light on wolfberry's nutrient content without commitment to any claims or to selling a product. None of the (mainly) Chinese literature to date can be fairly and scientifically validated to support any health claims.

To Young's credit and those of his coauthors, R. Lawrence, MD, PhD and M. Schreuder, the new book Discovery of the Ultimate Superfood represents a new tone in writing by Mr. Young but still leans clearly toward uncontested acceptance of myths, lore, weak science and unvalidated research showing health benefits from consuming wolfberries.

My interest in the wolfberry derived mainly from its exceptional nutrient content, including extraordinary antioxidant qualities, but I am not ready -- maybe never will be -- to state that wolfberry can extend life or even enrich it to the extent Mr. Young proclaims in his writings and on Ningxia Red's and Berry Young Juice's websites.

I do believe (via deduction and comparison to other nutrient-rich foods) that wolfberries from Ningxia probably are the among the most nutrient-dense foods on Earth. But that conclusion exists only because a systematic, completely-scientific undertaking by competent unbiased researchers has not been done.

Highlights about The Ultimate Superfood

Published in July 2005 by Essential Science Publishing, Orem, UT,

ISBN 0-943685-44-3

I found this book for the first time at the March 2006 meeting of Expo West in Anaheim. I receive Young Living e-newsletters, have visited the Young Living websites and had never seen any prior reference to it before then.

As a non-scientist and marketer of his own products, Gary Young has had difficulty being accepted among the scientific community when describing the qualities and potential health properties of foods, herbs and oils.

He has come a long way in this new book to turn the tide toward some welcome objectivity.

Chapter 1 gives a good presentation of the role antioxidants play in aging and identifies several antioxidants and enzymes involved in antioxidant functions.

Chapter 2 is a good discussion about whole foods and how these are the best resource for antioxidant vitamins and other phytochemicals, such as antioxidant phenolics.

Chapter 4 is the main data chapter for the book, giving tables of nutrients in comparison with other foods. This is an excellent resource for which the authors should be proud.

Chapter 5 discusses the antioxidant qualities of wolfberries and is probably the best treatise on this topic in existence.

However, the ORAC test of these results have not been published under peer review, nor do I think they could. The ORAC test is proving highly variable from sample to sample and from time to time, even by the same lab testing for it. I am left with the strong suspicion that only the ORAC data they wanted are the ORAC data they have used.

Chapter 6 is a valuable discussion on immunity but one that is without any credible clinical evidence and only tenuous laboratory results showing that wolfberries benefit the immune system. Immunity is a multifactoral system difficult to measure and to date almost impossible to demonstrate effects in human clinical trials. This chapter is a good baseline but is highly speculative.

One of the highlights of the book for me were the excellent color pictures of wolfberries in the center section.

Chapters 7-15 contain additional nutrient data and comparisons to other foods for providing "protection" against cancer, heart disease, vision disorders, diabetes, etc.

But the discussions for specific benefits in certain organs go farther than any regulatory agency (FDA) or scientific organization would allow. Readers should accept the data comparisons as presented -- these are the best currently available sources for judging wolfberry nutrient cntent -- but the attendant health claims say too much.

Update on the Wolfberry Book

My book with Xiaoping Zhang and Richard Zhang, Wolfberry: Nature's Bounty of Nutrition & Health, is going through the too-often-experienced slowness of publication.

We submitted the final manuscript in September 2005 and have had editorial and formatting problems with our publisher, Booksurge, ever since. At this time I am expecting the final proof in print -- which I have seen and approved online -- but final publication may yet be a month away (June 2006, hopefully).

All for now. I'll return again soon to enter more specific discussion about wolfberry nutrients.

May 07, 2006 11:52 AM  
Blogger PMG said...

Wolfberry book is now published, June, 2006

P.M. Gross, PhD, X. Zhang, MD and R. Zhang. Wolfberry: Nature's Bounty of Nutrition and Health, Booksurge Publishing, ISBN 1419620487, URL

June 30, 2006 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Rich Tompkins said...

Dear Dr. Gross,

Thank you so much for your ongoing research, and education, on "Proper Nutrition," as well as your focus on "World Hunger." In our humble opinion, we will never solve world hunger, without educating the poor about proper nutrition.

We at GojiTrees.Com & GojiTrees Natural Health want to express our profound gratitude, admiration, and appreciation, for your noble efforts.

"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime." Confucius

As we continue to clear up the fraud, and confusion, in the Natural Healthcare industry, & GojiTrees Natural Health spreads "Goji Seed" around the world, and teaches others how to plant, grow, and harvest "The Amazing Goji Berry."

We look forward to receiving your invaluable News Letters, as we continue to promulgate your work, and the Noble Ningxia Goji Berry, to the four corners of our planet .

Warmest Regards,

Rich Tompkins

January 18, 2009 10:40 AM  
Blogger Julia Hart said...

Can you tell me if Goji Berries contain Salicylates. I cannot find any reference to this anywhere.

Many thanks.

August 04, 2009 9:03 AM  
Blogger PMG said...

Hi Julia -- there is a reference showing that wolfberries contain salicylic acid, the same component from which aspirin derived. Salicylic acid is a phenolic acid likely found in many other fruits, some of which have been associated with reduced clotting time and therefore as 'blood thinners' like aspirin is. This implies that consuming goji in excessive amounts could actually affect the blood clotting properties of some people. The convincing scientific study, however, has not been done to confirm this, so it should not be accepted as a solid fact. All Best! Paul

August 05, 2009 11:02 PM  
Anonymous Rich Tompkins said...

Dear Goji Friends,

We are thrilled to announce that a Class Action Lawsuit has finally been filed against Earl Mindell, FreeLife International Inc., and their "Himalayan Goji Fraud."

For more details, simply follow the Links provided to read the Lawsuit (COMPLAINT) for yourself![1].pdf

September 17, 2009 5:52 AM  
Anonymous Esmeralda said...

Dear Dr.
Congratulations for your book. I'm also a writter (3 books). You can se my blog: (You can translate in english)I'm very interested in wolfberry. I would like to write a little post about it, but I need to include some scientifics references more (publications, bibliografie..). I'll be very glad if you can provides me this. Of course I'll add your reference and books!!!
Waiting your answer, I send you my best regards,

October 06, 2009 9:37 AM  
Blogger PMG said...


Thanks for your note. Here are 4 references (3 of mine) for background on goji/wolfberry

1. a presentation of criteria for superfruit status and comparison of goji among candidate superfruits,

From the table on p 3, goji scored 20 points, equal to red grape.

2. a general article presenting facts about goji,

3. specifically about goji nutrients that may support eye health,

4. the Wikipedia article,

Kind regards -- Paul

October 06, 2009 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Esmeralda said...

Dear Dr.
Thanks a lot for your answer. I saw
But I did'nt found anything about Goji. This is not on the tables.
Anyway, I saw the others links. Thanks a lot for you infomation. I've put a link of your blog in my blog. I'll need time to study your link-information and convert it in a understable information for general people (scientifics terms need to "translate" in coloquial language).
Thanks a lot again.

October 21, 2009 6:05 AM  
Anonymous ESmeralda said...

Again Esmeralda..
I've read that Goji has acetil salicylic acid, like aspirin. My cuestion is: for people who has allergy against this compound, is Goji unrecommended? or this depend of acetil salicylic levels in Goji?

Thanks a lot again

October 21, 2009 6:10 AM  
Blogger PMG said...

Esmeralda said: Goji has acetil salicylic acid, like aspirin. My question is: for people who have an allergy against this compound, is Goji unrecommended? or this dependent on acetil salicylic levels in Goji?

Salicylic acid is a polyphenol found naturally in many plants. I know of only one report of it being isolated from wolfberries.

Acetylsalicylic acid is the technical name for aspirin.

I've never heard of anyone actually "allergic" to salicylic acid or aspirin (which is a drug with many proven beneficial effects -- see

The amounts in goji appear to be small but it is possible that people who are on medication for blood thinning would be discouraged from eating goji or other berries containing salicyclic acid.

October 21, 2009 7:19 PM  
Blogger PMG said...

Esmeralda said: I saw
But I did'n't find anything about Goji. This is not in the tables.

At the top of page 4 in the above online article is the statement:

"Using the five criteria above, there are eight fruits with popularity as mainstream raw fruit or juice products, sound scientific records, exceptional nutrient qualities and potential for clinical progress. These include cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), fig (Ficus carica), goji (Lycium barbarum), mango (Mangifera indica), orange (Citrus sinensis), papaya (Carica papaya), red grape (Vitis vinifera) and strawberry (Fragaria ananassa)."

By my scoring system published in that article and in my new book on Superfruits,, goji is among the top 8 superfruits based mainly on its rich nutrient content and diversity of phytochemicals.

October 21, 2009 7:27 PM  
Anonymous VitaMix Labs said...

As a leading vitamin manufacturer we have been using wolfberry (goji) in our products for years... however we are noticing a SIGNIFICANT decline in people using this ingredient.

We find that most people are opting for Acai berry & Resveratrol and quickly moving past goji, noni, raspberries, blueberries, etc.

What are your thoughts about the antioxidant comparison of acai vs. goji?

December 31, 2009 7:39 AM  
Blogger PMG said...

Thanks to Vitamix for raising a timely question common in the public: how does a shopper differentiate among superfruits, particularly two such as acai and goji for which medical and nutrition research are not well developed?

Vitamix asks about the antioxidant comparison of acai vs. goji -- which I did address in a 4-part series of Berry Doctor essays two years ago,

A key "superfruit" differentiator is the presence of both lipid-soluble carotenoids and water-soluble polyphenols. Goji has both, whereas acai has only the polyphenols.

Specifically concerning ORAC and other antioxidant tests, however, I would encourage turning away from these measures because they are unique to the test tube only, and do not apply to human physiology. Upon entering the stomach and digestive system, fruit polyphenols (which account for ORAC) change entirely, no longer keeping their same chemical structure or function.

Here's a good summary by an antioxidant expert, the director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State Univ.,

and another Berry Doctor 2-part series on why in vitro measures of antioxidant capacity, like ORAC, mean nothing to human physiology, and

December 31, 2009 8:19 AM  
Anonymous GojiTrees Natural Health said...

It occurred to us that Haiti, with its ‘arid mountain regions,’ and ‘high plateaus,’ could be a wonderful place to grow Goji berry trees from seed, especially on the hillsides, along the Atribonite River. Goji berry trees are known for growing on hillsides, and along rivers, in very poor soil conditions, requiring very little maintenance. Haitis' soil, once known for its rich fertility, has been damaged by years of deforestation, and soil erosion. Goji berry trees, with their long tap root (when grown from seed), are one of the few plants on earth that could stabilize, and repair Haitis' soil, provide the Haitian people with desperately needed food, medicine, and employment, and possibly even an economic base. We are now working with the "WFP" & "PIH" to help make this happen. Help us help Haiti!

*The same could be done for Afganistan. What a wonderful "replacement" crop that would be!

January 27, 2010 6:08 PM  
Blogger PMG said...

"Goji Trees" said:

It occurred to us that Haiti, with its ‘arid mountain regions,’ and ‘high plateaus,’ could be a wonderful place to grow Goji berry trees from seed, especially on the hillsides, along the Atribonite River.

Are there arid regions anywhere in Haiti? As a tropical region with significant annual rainfall (approx. 50 in or more), two rainy seasons and in the crosshairs of annual hurricanes, I think it might be too wet for goji in this climate.

Having followed where goji has grown or is being cultivated, I can say not once have I found it succeeding in a tropical climate, its southern-most range in the US being in the mid-Gulf Coast (semi-tropical) where the shrubs bear little or no fruit.

Let's remember that goji is native to the region around Ningxia, China (latitude the same as Oregon-Illinois-Ontario-Vermont-northern France; USDA Hardiness Zone 4 -- and so goes through the four seasons, requiring a period of "rest" when the plant enters hibernation for several months of frigid temperatures.

"Goji berry trees are known for growing on hillsides, and along rivers, in very poor soil conditions, requiring very little maintenance. Haitis' soil, once known for its rich fertility, has been damaged by years of deforestation, and soil erosion. Goji berry trees, with their long tap root (when grown from seed), are one of the few plants on earth that could stabilize, and repair Haitis' soil, provide the Haitian people with desperately needed food, medicine, and employment, and possibly even an economic base. We are now working with the "WFP" & "PIH" to help make this happen."

Although this is good reasoning and a worthy mission, I sense a better fruit-bearing, high-nutrient berry would be seabuckthorn which really does have a maritime origin and cultivation success, has even more extensive root systems and hardiness, and has been used purposely for decades to stabilize river banks and desert erosion throughout various geographic locations of China and Russia. Again, however, a perennial plant needing its winter downtime.

January 28, 2010 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Rich said...

Dear Dr. Paul,

Thank you for your response, and your great information on Ningxia climate. I am no Meteorological Horticulturalist, but I understand Haiti is 19 degrees 'North' of the equator, and bordering the 'North' Atlantic Ocean. At more than 8000 feet elevation at its peak, I would think there must be some place on the mountain that would be suitable for growing Goji. The drainage, and sunshine, would be great. I understand even Ningxia China suffers from "monsoon" climate on ocassion. We await a 'feasibility analysis' from the WFP.

By the way Doctor Paul, are you aware of a "more nutritiously dense 'whole food' than Goji?"

February 05, 2010 3:08 PM  
Blogger PMG said...

Concerning comparisons of nutrient dense berries, other superfruits and "superfoods" -- this has been an interest of mine for some years.

For a few comparisons with such foods as blueberries, spinach, flaxseeds, and soybeans, go to and download the two free ebooks on goji; then see the tables.

The comparisons are not always direct and fair because

* the nutrient analyses on goji were from dried fruit which concentrates the nutrient density (when measured per 100 grams of total weight, a standard scientific expression)
* spinach and blueberries were fresh
* seeds and beans are high-nutrient food sources compacting nutrient concentration in a way berries cannot

But if you look at these different foods as the way they would be consumed by most people, then the comparisons are reasonable and goji certainly stands tall among them.

Here are other ways of looking at this:

1. the variable nutrient content of different berries --

2. why would some fruits be called "super"? --

3. the top 13 superfruits, partly using nutrient criteria --

This is the topic of my book on Superfruits in which goji is discussed in more depth and compared to other fruits using a 5-part qualification system. Ranking above goji by these criteria: mango, fig, strawberry, orange.


February 06, 2010 6:12 AM  
Blogger Green Tea said...

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February 11, 2010 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Information about goji berries said...

Modern Chinese scientists found that goji is able to reduce the time it takes for vision to adapt to darkness. It also improves vision under subdued light. Blind spots were reduced in patients taking goji. Its powerful antioxidant carotenoids may also protect against degeneration and cataracts.

March 30, 2010 5:00 AM  
Blogger PMG said...

March 30, 2010 -- New research from Kansas State University on vision affected by goji in rats with diabetic retinopathy

March 30, 2010 5:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Paul,
I heard that goji interacts with blood thinner. Recently, I started taking goji and it has improved my AMD. I didn't have to get the second lucentis shot for my third hemorrhage in June this year (this time the hemorrhage suddenly occurred in the peripheral vision as I had lost my central vision and had vitrectomy 10 years ago). However, an MRI scan showed that I have several infarcts in the corona radiata of my brain and was prescribed bayasprin. I have yet to take it as I am seeking a second opinion from a neurologist tomorrow morning. I am only taking about a tablespoonful of wolfberry (soaked in hot water) everyday. Kindly advice on the adverse effects or toxicity if I were to take bayasprin and goji. (Alice)

October 30, 2011 7:07 AM  
Blogger PMG said...

Dear Alice -- I am not a physician and so am not qualified to judge your medical conditions. Wolfberry is a rich source of carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, which is converted in the body into vitamin A, an essential nutrient for eye health. The fruit also contains relatively high concentrations of zeaxanthin and lutein, two carotenoid pigments which are absorbed from the blood into a small region of the eye called the corpora lutea for the yellow color it retains, almost certainly due to the zeaxanthin and lutein content. Carotenoids are in other orange-yellow-red fruits and vegetables, and are rich in spinach and romaine lettuce, so they may derive from any part of your diet. These conditions may help AMD, but there is no scientific proof of this effect.

Wolberries also contain a phenolic acid called salicylic acid which is the base chemical in aspirin, a blood thinner. Again however, there is no scientific evidence that wolfberry salicylic acid, or any other phenolic acid it may contain, has a clinical effect on blood coagulation.

I am assuming your source of wolfberries would be dried berries, as fresh berries are in limited supply everywhere except China. The dried berries are highly nutrient-rich, so are a good food just by themselves like one would eat raisins. Chinese custom is to soak them in hot water first, possibly making a tea, but there is no practical reason for soaking them. I enjoy them as a dried fruit added to salads, oatmeal, stir-frys or trail mix, or just by themselves!

All the best with recovering your health completely, Alice.

October 30, 2011 10:41 AM  

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