The goji berry is a fruit seed, similar to raisins, and is one of the only Chinese herbs in pharmacopeia that can be eaten raw off the vine, other than dates. This tasty little red gem is a famous Taoist snack commonly combined with nuts in trail mix and consumed while trekking through the woods contemplating nature.  

In traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries are categorized as a yin tonic, herbs that tonify chi energy and blood. As a low-glycemic food, they are one of the few sweet-tasting herbs that nourish and tonify the liver and kidneys, which means they supports eye and vision health. They also influence the kidney channel, home to your vital essence (Jing), which means they support bones, hair growth, hearing and energy. That is why they have been dubbed an anti-aging superfood.

Goji berry juice can aid in mental well-being and calmness, happiness, quality of sleep and feelings of good health and longevity; their vine is often associated with beauty, moist skin and eyes like an eagle.

They are power packed and nutrient dense with a one-quarter cup serving containing 150% of daily recommended vitamin A; 85% copper; 75% selenium; over 60% vitamin B2 and 40% iron; nearly 30% vitamin C; over 20% potassium and 15% zinc. And if that isn’t enough, they also contain over 20 trace minerals! 

Gojis can be added to soups, salads, beans, even teas and coffee. I do recommend consuming high quality goji berries which are vibrant red in color and soft in texture. However, it is important to note that they are part of the nightshade family and thus, people suffering with high levels of inflammation should be advised that they may not be good for arthritis or other inflammatory conditions.

Chinese legend surrounding goji berries (aka Matrimony vine)

In the Chinese culture, the goji berry vine has long been referred to as the matrimony vine as it intertwines together as it grows, and there are many ancient legends surrounding the plant’s longevity attributes. 

A famous Chinese poet in the Tang Dynasty, Liu Yuxi (772-842), is said to have written a poem about the matrimony vine, stating that even the water from a well near the plant can give people a long and healthy life.

Shih Chen Li, a famous herbalist in 1578, noted that the people of a village called Nan-Qiu were in the habit of eating matrimony vine and lived a very long life. 

Another famous legend begins with a Chinese farmer crossing the mountain and seeing a young woman arguing with an older man, whipping him with her long grey hair. She looked about 15 – 16 years old and the old man around 90. The farmer asked the young lady, “Why are you hitting this old man? Stop that now.” She replied, “I’m his granddaughter and he is not taking his longevity herbs; that is why he looks old.” She then stated she was 372 years old! “Is it possible to live that long and look so beautiful?” asked the farmer. Her reply was that she consumed matrimony vine all year round. 

Diane Sheppard is a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of traditional Chinese medicine with AcQpoint Wellness Center and can be reached at (760) 345.2200 or visit

Source: 1) Chinese Natural Cures: Traditional Methods for Remedies and Prevention, Henry C. Lu, PhD. (1999)

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