Goji berries (Lycium barbarum) are fruits native to China and the Tibetan Himalayas. They are slightly sweet and tart and are used as ingredients in oatmeal and salads.
Though they offer certain benefits, their excess intake has been associated with side effects. The berries could interact with medications, and if you are on any, you should practice caution.
Goji berries may also cause allergies in some individuals (1). In this article, we have discussed the potential side effects of the berries. Keep reading to know more.
What Are The Side Effects Of Goji Berries?
Table Of Contents
1. May Cause Drug Interactions
Goji berries can interact with certain drugs, including warfarin. In a study, a 71-year-old woman took goji berry juice while she was on warfarin therapy. The woman experienced symptoms of bruising, rectal bleeding, and bleeding from the nose (2). Her symptoms improved once she stopped taking the juice.
Goji berry juice is a popular herbal drink that can increase bleeding. It interacts with and enhances the action of drugs like warfarin, which is an anticoagulant (3).
2. May Lower Blood Sugar Way Too Much
Goji berries can lower blood sugar levels. They have been identified as possible treatment options to manage diabetes (4). But if you are already on diabetes medication, they may cause your blood sugar levels to decrease way too much.
There is no direct research stating that goji berries can cause hypoglycemia. However, it is better to exercise caution. Please check with your doctor before consuming goji berries if you are undergoing diabetes treatment.
3. May Cause Allergies
Goji berries can cause anaphylaxis, a condition in which the body becomes hypersensitive (5). The lipid transfer proteins in the berries could be responsible for these reactions.
The symptoms of anaphylaxis include hives, airway obstruction, gastrointestinal issues, and shock (6). Individuals at risk of food allergies must not consume goji berries until they get approval from their doctor.
4. May Cause Hypotension
Studies show that goji berries can help lower blood pressure levels (7). This may be good news, but it can cause problems if the individual is already on medications for treating high blood pressure.
Goji berries may enhance the action of medications that lower blood pressure. This can lead to hypotension or blood pressure levels plummeting to dangerously low levels.
Though there is no direct research to establish this, there is a possibility. If you are already on medication to treat hypertension, please check with your doctor before you consume goji berries.
5. May Lead To Diarrhea
In one case report, an individual who had consumed goji berries (goji berry tea) had experienced non-bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain. The berries were found to modulate certain genes in the human body. Another possible reason for these side effects could be contamination (8).
Hence, if you have digestive issues, please check with your doctor before consuming goji berries.
6. May Cause Miscarriage
Goji berries contain betaine (9). Betaine could also be used to induce menstruation and abortion. The berries also have an estrogen-mimicking effect. Hence, they must not be used by pregnant or lactating women or anyone with diseases sensitive to estrogen (10).
Goji berries are rich in nutrients with numerous health benefits. However, excess consumption of the berries may cause some serious side effects in some people.
If you are on any medication, consult your doctor before you include the berries in your diet. Pregnant or lactating women must stay away from this fruit.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How many goji berries should you eat a day?
You can eat 15 g of goji berries a day (8). This quantity is considered beneficial for eye health with 3 g of zeaxanthin in it. However, the safe daily limit of goji berries is not yet known.
Can those with diabetes eat goji berries?
Yes, they can. These berries can control blood sugar levels. From one study, goji berries have antidiabetic efficacy, which can balance glucose levels in the blood (11).
Can berries make you gain weight?
There is no evidence stating that berries may cause weight gain. Instead, they may decrease cholesterol levels in the body (12). This may help with weight loss.
- Goji berries (Lycium barbarum): risk of allergic reactions in individuals with food allergy, Journal of Investigational Allergology & Clinical Immunology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Probable interaction between Lycium barbarum (goji) and warfarin, Pharmacotherapy, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Bleeding due to a probable interaction between warfarin and Gouqizi (Lycium Barbarum L.), Toxicology Reports, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Goji Berry (Lycium Barbarum) in the treatment of diabetes melitus: a systematic review, Food Research, ResearchGate.
- Anaphylaxis associated with the ingestion of Goji berries (Lycium barbarum), Journal of Investigational Allergology & Clinical Immunology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Anaphylaxis, Canadian Family Physician.
- Anti-hypertensive effect of Lycium barbarum L. with down-regulated expression of renal endothelial lncRNA sONE in a rat model of salt-sensitive hypertension, International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pathology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum): Composition and Health Effects – A Review, Polish Journal of Food and Nutrition Sciences, ResearchGate.
- Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects of Chinese Wolfberry, Herbal Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information.
- Practical Application of Antidiabetic Efficacy of Lycium Barbarum Polysaccharide in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes, Medicinal Chemistry, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Strawberries, Blueberries, and Cranberries in the Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Perspectives, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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