Wolfberries, from the Lycium plant family, have been consumed for centuries in Asia, supposedly to promote good eyesight, agility, and longevity, among other benefits. These small, red, tangy berries—often marketed as goji berries—are available today in capsules and herbal tinctures, with marketers claiming them to be the greatest of all “superfoods.” Like many fruits, wolfberries are packed with vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids, and other potentially beneficial substances. In animal and test-tube studies, extracts have been shown to have antioxidant, antitumor, liver-protective, and other effects.
There are only a few published studies in people, however, and they are small or of poor quality. Rather, much of the “evidence” comes from anecdotal reports. According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, there is insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of wolfberry for any medical condition. Moreover, there’s concern that wolfberries, which are grown in China, are sprayed with pesticides that are illegal in the U.S.
Our take: There’s no evidence to support the use of wolfberry supplements to treat any medical conditions. No doubt, the berries are healthful, but there’s nothing magical about them to support their often-inflated prices (especially when sold as dried berries and in juices). All berries are nutritious and high in antioxidants.