goji berries

[Image: Getty Images]

Small but nutrient-dense, this so-called “longevity fruit” packs an antioxidant punch for both internal and external benefits.

Also known as Chinese wolfberry or Chinese boxthorn, among other names, the goji berry grows on shrubs in temperate regions in China, Mongolia and the Himalayas. Consumed for generations, the berries have long been thought to help people enjoy longer, healthier lives due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities—in fact, some ancient Chinese medical books claimed that the fruit could “cure disease” and “calm the soul.” The dried red berries can be consumed whole or within supplements, but they also offer a variety of benefits when used topically in extract form. Here we explain how you can incorporate this ancient antioxidant powerhouse into your spa or wellness center’s services.

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Why it’s a skincare all-star:

Goji berries are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc and selenium. These nutrients increase the production of elastin and collagen, improving skin’s elasticity and minimizing fine lines. The superfood is indeed known for its antiaging benefits, reports Heather Linberg, PR director of Epicuren Discovery. “It protects the skin against damage and premature aging caused by free radicals, and topical use of the extract promotes a firm, tight and plump complexion thanks to its high vitamin C content,” she explains.

Goji berry is typically used as an accompanying ingredient that works synergistically with other actives to give a high oxygen radical absorbency capacity (ORAC), which is associated with powerful free radical fighting abilities. In fact, goji berries’ ORAC value has been measured at more than 25,000, compared to kale (1,770) and blueberries (2,400). Consistent use of products containing goji berry can improve skin tone and texture, soothe redness, and provide an overall polished, youthful and healthy glow, advises Linberg.

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Goji Berry Products

  • Éminence Firm Skin Acai Exfoliating Peel
In the treatment room:

The Lavish Antioxidant Facial (50 min./from $115) at EnviouSkin Day Spa in San Diego is one of the spa’s most popular, says owner and esthetician Kim Schweizer. The treatment uses Epicuren Discovery’s Himalayan Superfruit Enzyme Polish, which contains goji extract and offers an appealing citrus scent. “During the service, the client experiences a light yet comfortable tingling,” says the spa pro. “It’s very soothing and calming, and the berry’s antioxidants help with inflammation and dehydration. This facial is good for all ages and skin types, and works especially well on hyperpigmentation, leaving the guest with a nice, dewy glow.”

The best-selling Pure Results Facial (30 min./$80; 60 min./$135) offered by Naturopathica East Hampton in New York includes the company’s Beech Tree & Ginseng Daily Moisturizer, which features goji berry extract. The treatment is designed to reduce inflammation, a primary cause of premature aging, and the brand’s marketing and communications associate Manda Goldberg shares that “Clients refer to the cream as their ‘natural Botox!’”

In addition to their use in topical treatments, goji berries can also be ingested to improve internal health. Journey Salon & Day Spa in Findlay, Ohio, promotes a variety of wellness programs, including a detox that incorporates the M’lis Antioxidant Essentials supplement (seven-day program/$102), which includes the fruit. “Our M’lis detox programs are designed to help the body cleanse itself of toxins, mucus and other waste materials,” says spa co-owner Megan Reichenbach. “This restores energy to the entire body. Customers are amazed at the natural energy boost it provides and how radiant their skin appears. In fact, I would say the biggest result our guests see is their youthful-looking complexion. I can always tell if someone has been drinking Antioxidant Essentials by their natural glow!”

Quick Facts!

  • Goji berries are a member of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes and peppers.
  • Goji berries have a slightly bitter, tart taste, similar to that of cranberries or sour cherries.
  • Goji berries sprout from the bright purple, funnel-shaped flowers on its shrub; originally orange in color, they change to red as they mature.
  • A recommended 1-ounce serving of goji berries includes more vitamin C than oranges, more beta- carotene than carrots and more iron than steak.
  • Chinese and Tibetan healers often use goji berries to counteract everything from insomnia to skin rashes.
  • Goji berries can be consumed raw, cooked, dried or in juice form. They can also be added to smoothies or steeped in hot water to make a nutritious tea.
  • The fruit contains zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that helps maintain vision.

–by Stephanie Vozza

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