Wolfberry Goji Berry for Glaucoma

Wolfberry (Goji Berry) May Protect Retinal Ganglion Cells from High Eye Pressure

What is Wolfberry (Goji Berry)?

Wolfberry (Lycium barbarum) is a fruit that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine. It also goes by the name Goji berry. Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBP) are believed to be the active component.

Evidence that Wolfberry can be effective in the treatment of Glaucoma

There is laboratory evidence that lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBP) can protect retinal ganglion cells (RGC) from damage caused by elevated intraocular pressure (IOP)[1] . The retina contains cells call microglia which can either be protective or damaging to the retinal ganglion cells.[2] The microglia in rats fed lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBP) were shown to have a protective effect on the retinal ganglion cells.[3] Additionally, LBP has anti-oxidant properties.[4]

Potential Side Effects and Risks:

There are few reported side effects when taken in moderate doses commonly available in over-the-counter Goji juice products.[5] However, Goji contains betaine which can increase the risk of spontaneous abortion in pregnant women.[6As such, it should not be used during pregnancy.

Potential Drug Interactions

Warfarin (Coumadin)

There is evidence that Wolfberry (Goji Berry) can increase the blood levels of warfarin (Coumadin).[7] This could result in undesirable (and potentially life-threatening) bleeding. Thus, Wolfberry (Goji Berry) supplements should be used with the knowledge of the doctor prescribing warfarin (Coumadin) or not at all.

Other Drug Interactions

Ingestion of Wolfberry (Goji Berry) could result in increased blood levels of drugs such as amitriptyline (Elavil), diazepam (Valium), estradiol (Estrace), tacrine (Cognex), verapamil (Calan), warfarin (Coumadin), zileuton (Zyflo), and others. Care should be taken when taking Wolfberry (Goji Berry) supplements along with other prescription medications.

Goji Root Bark Drug Interactions

It should be noted that extracts of Goji root bark can lower blood sugar and blood pressure.[8] These effects may be desirable in those with elevated blood sugar and blood pressure. However, care should be taken when ingesting Goji root bark in those who are already taking prescription medications for blood sugar or blood pressure control. Of note is that this effect is not seen in extracts of the berry only.[9]

Food Allergy Warning

Those who have food allergies to nuts, peaches, tomatoes, or tobacco may also be at a higher risk of allergy to Wolfberry (Goji Berry).[10] As such, individuals with certain food allergies should avoid use of Wolfberry (Goji Berry).


No human glaucoma studies have been done looking at the role of Wolfberry in the treatment of glaucoma. Therefore, it is not known what dose, if any, would provide a benefit to those with glaucoma.


[1] Chan HC, Chang RCC, Ip AKC, et al. Neuroprotective effects of Lycium barbarum Lynn on protecting retinal ganglion cells in an ocular hypertension model of glaucoma. Exp Neurol. 2007;203:269–73.

[2] Li L, Lu J, Tay SSW, et al. The function of microglia, either neuroprotection or neurotoxicity, is determined by the equilibrium among factors released from activated microglia in vitro. Brain Res. 2007;1159:8–17.

[3] Chiu K, Chan HC, Yeung SC, et al. Modulation of microglia by Wolfberry on the survival of retinal ganglion cells in a rat ocular hypertension model. J Ocul Biol Dis Inform. 2009;2:127–136.

[4] Wang ZY, Huang XR, Qi MX. The regulation of LBP (lycium barbarum polysaccharide, LBP) on the expression of apoptosisrelated genes Bcl-2 and Bax in SD rat LEC (lens epithelial cells, LEC) induced by oxidative injuries. Chinese J Optomet Ophthalmol. 2003;5:147–9.

[5] Huang KC. The Pharmacology of Chinese Herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, LLC 1999.

Amagase H, Nance DM. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum (goji) juice, GoChi. J Altern Complement Med. 2008;14:403-12.

[6] McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, LLC 1997.

Agricultural Research Service. Dr. Duke’s phytochemical and ethnobotanical databases. www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/duke/farmacy2.pl?575

[7] Lam AY, Elmer GW, Mohutsky MA. Possible interaction between warfarin and Lycium Barbarum. Ann Pharmacother 2001;35:1199-201.

Leung H, Hung A, Hui AC, Chan TY. Warfarin overdose due to the possible effects of Lycium barbarum L. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008;46:1860-2.

Rivera, C. A., Ferro, C. L., Bursua, A. J., and Gerber, B. S. Probable interaction between Lycium barbarum (goji) and warfarin. Pharmacotherapy. 2012;32(3):e50-e53.

[8] Huang KC. The Pharmacology of Chinese Herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, LLC 1999.

[9] Amagase H, Nance DM. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum (goji) juice, GoChi. J Altern Complement Med. 2008;14:403-12.

[10] Monzon, Ballarin S., Lopez-Matas, M. A., Saenz, Abad D., Perez-Cinto, N., and Carnes, J. Anaphylaxis associated with the ingestion of Goji berries (Lycium barbarum). J.Investig.Allergol.Clin.Immunol. 2011;21(7):567-570.

Larramendi, C. H., Garcia-Abujeta, J. L., Vicario, S., Garcia-Endrino, A., Lopez-Matas, M. A., Garcia-Sedeno, M. D., and Carnes, J. Goji berries (Lycium barbarum): risk of allergic reactions in individuals with food allergy. J.Investig.Allergol.Clin.Immunol. 2012;22(5):345-350.

Don’t delay getting checked for glaucoma.

Make an appointment with an eye doctor in your area now.  If you live in the greater Los Angeles area and would like Dr. Richardson to evaluate your eyes for glaucoma call 626-289-7856 now. No referral required. Same day or next day appointments are available, Tuesday through Saturday.

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