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article imageDo wolfberries have health benefits?

By Tim Sandle     Dec 18, 2013 in Health
Wolfberries appear to interact with the influenza vaccine to offer additional protection against the flu virus, according to some new research using mice.
Wolfberries, also known as Goji berries, are the fruit of Lycium barbarum, which is native to southeastern Europe and Asia. Wolfberries are usually sold in open boxes and small packages in dried form.
Marketing literature for wolfberry products including several "goji juices" suggest that wolfberry polysaccharides have biological effects and possible health benefits. Most of the claims have been untested.
A science team conducted a study to examine the health benefits of wolfberries in relation to influenza. For the study, Business Times reports, older mice, with immune systems weakened by age, were placed on diets that included a small amount of a milk preparation of wolfberry fruit.
The mice were infected with flu, divided into two groups, and wolfberries were added to the diet of one group. Over time the researchers tested the mice for specific influenza antibodies as well as the clinical symptoms of the disease.
The researchers found higher antibody response and better protection against flu as indicated by less weight loss in the older mice that consumed wolfberries.
Whilst the study results are interesting, further research will be required. A response in mice is not necessarily the same response that would be seen in people.
The research was carried out at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University. The findings have been published in The Journal of Nutrition. The paper is titled “Dietary wolfberry supplementation enhances protective effect of flu vaccine against influenza challenge in aged mice.”
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