In the thermos cup, are you brewing wolfberries correctly?

“Brewing wolfberries in a thermos cup” has become a symbol for many people to start a healthy lifestyle. Indeed, wolfberries, as a precious traditional Chinese medicinal herb with a long history and international reputation, have been classified as a top-grade herb in the ancient text “Shennong Ben Cao Jing.” Wolfberries contain various amino acids, as well as special nutritional components such as betaine, zeaxanthin, and anthocyanin, providing benefits such as nourishing the kidneys, liver, moistening the lungs, and improving eyesight. However, consuming wolfberries, which have health benefits throughout the year, too casually can lead to side effects. Today, let’s explore the world of wolfberries together with a pharmacist.

The small yet powerful wolfberries

Wolfberries, also known as goji berries or red earrings, are the dried mature fruits of the Solanaceae plant Lycium barbarum. “Shennong Ben Cao Jing” records: “Long-term consumption of wolfberries can strengthen tendons and bones, resist cold and heat, keep the body light and prevent aging; it is indeed a top-grade herb in Chinese medicine.” “Ben Cao Gang Mu” records: “Wolfberries are sweet, mild, and moistening, nourishing the kidneys, moistening the lungs, generating essence, and benefiting qi; this is truly a mild-nourishing medicine.”

Wolfberries have various health benefits, including immune regulation, anti-aging, anti-tumor, anti-fatigue, anti-radiation damage, blood lipid regulation, blood sugar reduction, blood pressure lowering, protection of the reproductive system, vision improvement, respiratory disease resistance, beauty and skin care, skin moisturization, liver protection, and enhanced blood-forming function.

This is the authentic production area of wolfberries

It is important to note that the pharmacopeia records the use of “Ningxia wolfberries” as a medicinal species. The main production areas include Ningxia, Qinghai, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Hebei, with Zhongning in Ningxia being the authentic production area.

Here are a few methods to distinguish the quality of wolfberries.

  1. Distinguish by color: Fresh wolfberries have different colors depending on the origin, but the color is soft, glossy, and the flesh is plump. Dyed wolfberries are often old goods from previous years, with poor flesh quality, lack of gloss, but a bright and attractive appearance. Therefore, when buying wolfberries, do not be too attracted by the “color.”
  2. Distinguish by appearance: The tip of normal wolfberries is mostly yellow or white, while dyed wolfberries are entirely red, including the small white dots at the stem base, which are also red. Wolfberries roasted with sulfur appear bright red. It is recommended to put a dozen wolfberries in water when purchasing. Normal wolfberries should be orange-yellow (pale yellow) with a small amount of flocculent material floating. If they do not fade, it means they are sulfur-fumigated wolfberries because sulfur is insoluble in water. If red color appears, it indicates the use of a dye.
  3. Distinguish by characteristics: Traditionally, wolfberries produced in Zhongning, Ningxia, are considered the best. Their fruits usually have small white dots—stem marks. They float much higher in water than wolfberries from other regions. Zhongning’s wolfberries are not large, and even in high humidity and heat, they are not prone to moisture absorption and clumping, making them easy to store.

In some regions, wolfberries are large with high sugar content, making them prone to clumping in high humidity and heat, changing color over time, and being difficult to store. Therefore, when selecting wolfberries, do not prioritize size and sweetness.

  1. Distinguish by smell: For wolfberries fumigated with sulfur, just grab a handful, cover them with both hands for a while, and then smell them under the nose. If you can detect a pungent odor, it can be confirmed that they have been sulfur-fumigated.
  2. Distinguish by taste: Ningxia wolfberries are sweet, but after eating, there is a slight bitter taste in the throat, while wolfberries from some regions may taste somewhat cloying. Wolfberries soaked in alum will have a bitter taste, and sulfur-fumigated wolfberries will have a sour, astringent, and bitter taste.

Different seasons, different health benefits

  • In spring, when everything is reviving, and the body’s yang energy is gradually rising, wolfberries, with their sweet and mild nourishing properties, can be consumed alone or combined with slightly warm-toned herbs like astragalus to help promote the body’s yang energy.
  • In summer, people often desire a pot of sweet and cool tea to relieve the heat. Wolfberries, with their sweet taste, can be combined with chrysanthemum, honeysuckle, green tea, etc., giving a refreshing feeling after consumption. Especially when combined with chrysanthemum, it can nourish yin, improve eyesight, and clear liver heat.
  • In autumn, the air is dry, and people often experience dry mouth, cracked lips, and peeling skin. Consuming wolfberries in this season requires pairing with moisturizing foods such as snow pear, Fritillaria, lily, etc. Some acidic foods, such as hawthorn, can also be used to achieve the effect of “sourness nourishing yin.”
  • In winter, wolfberries can nourish yang energy. Daily consumption, especially when combined with lamb, eucommia bark, Morinda officinalis, and Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan, can help the body’s yang energy growth and resist the severe cold in nature.

Although wolfberries are “approachable,” eating them improperly can lead to problems

People with yin deficiency may get excessive internal heat when consuming wolfberries. In summer, those with a constitution of yin deficiency should pay attention to the dosage of wolfberries. Because wolfberries are sweet and mild, excessive consumption can cause internal heat, especially when eaten raw, the dosage should be reduced.

Excessive consumption can cause discomfort. Wolfberries contain betaine, amino acids, carotene, vitamins B1, B2, C, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and other components beneficial to health, but attention should be paid to the dosage. Overconsumption of wolfberries can cause internal heat, nosebleeds, and even uncomfortable redness and swelling of the eyes.

Do not consume if experiencing these symptoms. Those with external pathogenic heat, spleen deficiency with dampness, and diarrhea should avoid taking wolfberries. Due to its strong warming effect on the body, it is advisable for those with a cold, inflammation, or diarrhea to refrain from consuming wolfberries. Wolfberries are warm in nature, so people with overly impulsive temperaments are advised to avoid them.

Additional information

There are contraindications for using wolfberries in medicine.

“Ben Cao Jing Shu”: Weak spleen and stomach, frequent diarrhea, should not take it.

“Ben Cao Hui Yan”: Those with cold phlegm and cold aversions in the spleen and stomach should not take it.

There is an old saying that if you travel far from home, do not eat wolfberries. It means that the effect of quickly supplementing vital energy is significant. However, it should be used with caution for those with weakened yang energy, slippery essence due to yin deficiency, women with disrupted menstrual cycles, and people prone to coughing and steaming heat. This is because it can supplement vital energy and blood, and when vital energy is vigorous, the desire for a partner arises; this is a natural process.

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One Response to “In the thermos cup, are you brewing wolfberries correctly?

  • Every time I read a new post, I feel like I’ve learned something valuable or gained a new perspective. Thank you for consistently putting out such great content!

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