China box-thorn (Lycium barbarum), or "ninsya gouzi" (寧夏枸杞) is a prickly shrub with height up to 3,5 m, of the Nightshade family (Solanaceae). Wild species grow in China, Korea and Japan. China box-thorn is cultivated in Ningxia Hui autonomous region in Central China and other provinces. It also grows in foothills of Altai in Russia, but the Russian bush has black berries and is therefore called "dogberry" or "wolfberry" (general name for quite a few plants with black berries).
Goji berries have been known for ages in traditional Asian medecine, as a general tonic. It is believed that they improve liver and kidneys functions, relieve headaches, dizziness and buzzing in ears, and produce beneficial effects on vascular and nervous systems. They are also used in cooking as a spice for vegetable and meat dishes, and to make an alcohol drink.
However, recenly popularity of Goji berries as "the longevity berries" and "the cure for a hundred diseases" spread far beyond The Celestial Empire, and assumed world-wide proportions. Their amazing properties have been discussed with great enthusiasm since Australian magazine "Bazaar" mentioned their anti-cellulite effect in 2004. A year after, American newspaper "Los Angeles Times" published an article on their anti-cancer properties, as well as the high content of vitamines and other healthful substances. An agressive marketing campaign attracted a lot of attention from health specialists, and there raised a wave of denunciations and revelations. Notwithstanding all this, dried Goji berries obtained a footing in the diet of healthy nutrition followers.
The plant contains betanin, steroid saponins, flavonoids, carotin, rutin, zeaxanthin, lutein, nicotinic acid, vitamines of B and C groups, polysaccharides, daucosterin, aminoacids, micro- and macroelements, polyphenols.
Properties of Goji berries: general strengthening, antioxidant, tonic, anti-inflammatory, immune-enhancing effects. Goji berries can also improve hematogenic function, normalize brain blood vessels activity, kidneys function, balance blood sugar level, decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels in blood and liver.
For both prophylactic and medical purposes, put 1 tbs of berries into a thermos, add 1 glass of boiling water, cover with a lid, and steep for 20 - 30 min.
The ready drink is transparent, has a light yellowish-pink colour, a gentle sweet taste reminding of a compot of dried apricots, with a light berry sour note and a delicate fruity scent. It can be used either as a separate drink, or as an additive to Shú Pu'er or other herbal tonics.
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