Gouqi is known as the "king of berries" and has been used for thousands of years as an overall tonic to boost energy, immunity and fertility - and treat just about everything.
Ancient Chinese cherished three tonics for health - ginseng, lingzhi (lucid ganoderma, a fungus) and gouqi (Chinese wolfberry). The tiny red berries are justly famous - and more affordable.
Gouqi berries (lycium barbarum, or wolf berries) are a powerhouse of energy, nutrition and healing. A source of cooling yin energy, they are ideal for summer.
With a sweet, mild, somewhat raisin-like (some liken them to cranberry/cherry/plum) flavor, they are definitely not a bitter herb and are used in numerous recipes, in tea or eaten raw.
Rich in antioxidants, carotinoids, polysaccharides, flavonoids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, the berries can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, strengthen the immune system and do you a world of good. They are good for the liver, kidneys, skin and eyes and are said to slow the aging process. Today we know its anti-aging effects are largely produced by polysaccharides, flavonoids and carotenoids. The bright red color is a tip-off to nutrition.
Berries have been used to treat male infertility and boost sperm production, and both men and women have said it boosts libido; the gouqi vine is sometimes called the "matrimony vine."
Li Shizhen, a pharmacologist in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), said in "Ben Cao Gang Mu" ("Compendium of Materia Medica"), that gouqi is a remedy for thirst, heat stroke and fatigue. It can reinforce energy, strengthen muscles and improve eyesight.
Li said that gouqi from what is today's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region has the best taste and highest quality.
Berries are processed as dried fruit, semi-dried fruit, powder, juice and oil.
The region is known as China's "wolfberry valley" and is the main base of medicinal gouqi production, with modern processing plants.