Goji Berries Precautions: anticoagulants and allergic reactions

Separately, goji berries (wolf berries) are known to have two possible negative health effects. They interact (badly) with anticoagulant drugs (warfarin and others). The drugs are intended to decrease blood clotting. Goji berries can, at least in some patients, exaggerate that effect, causing bleeding.

“Three published case reports have described patients who experienced interactions between Goji berry and warfarin, an anticoagulant drug. An elevated International Normalized Ratio (INR) was observed in patients after drinking Goji tea and juice, previously stabilized on anticoagulation therapy, also increased bleeding from rectum and nose was observed [Lam et al., 2001; Leung et al., 2008; Rivera et al., 2012].” [1]

Persons who are taking any type of anticoagulated drug; or who have been advised by a healthcare provider that they are at increased risk of bleeding, or that they are should avoid foods, supplements, and medications that increase risk of bleeding or decrease blood clotting, should NOT consume Goji berries, nor any foods or supplements containing Goji berries (also called wolf berries). [2]

Another, unrelated problem with Goji berries is the possibility of an allergic reaction.

“Lipid transfer proteins (LTPs) seem to be involved in allergic sensitization to L. barbarum berries, and results have demonstrated a high degree of cross-reactivity between Goji berry and peach and tomato [Carnes et al., 2013; Larramendi et al., 2012].” [1]

The above study indicates that persons who are allergic to peaches or tomatoes or both have a high likelihood of also being allergic to Goji berries. If you are allergic to peaches or to tomatoes, do not consume Goji berries, nor any foods or supplements containing Goji berries (also called wolf berries).

Other than the above two considerations, there seems to be no other health risks from regular consumption of small quantities of Goji berries (less than 30 grams or one ounce per day). [1,2] The amount of Goji berries needed to obtain sufficient zeaxanthin in the diet is about one gram per day, providing about 1,000 mcg of zeaxanthin. [3]

[1] Kulczyński, Bartosz, and Anna Gramza-Michałowska. “Goji berry (Lycium barbarum): composition and health effects–a review.” Polish journal of food and nutrition sciences 66.2 (2016): 67-76.

[2] Potterat, Olivier. “Goji (Lycium barbarum and L. chinense): phytochemistry, pharmacology and safety in the perspective of traditional uses and recent popularity.” Planta medica 76.01 (2010): 7-19.

[3] Conte, Healthy Eating versus Mortality

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