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The Goji Scam

Botanical name: 

Goji berries are your normal Lycium berries.

The following is gleaned from a recent discussion on a mailing list for herbalists:

1) Both Lycium eleagnus pungens and Lycium eleagnus barbarum are manufactured names; there is no such thing, botanically. The berry sold under those names is your normal Lycium barbarum or wolfberry.
2) There is no such thing as wild Tibetan goji berries. These, too, are normal Lycium barbarum berries. Ditto for Himalayan goji.
3) The so-called Tibetan-grown goji berries are a) normal lycium berries (Lycium barbarum), and b) Mongolian-grown, like the rest of the Lycium berries on the market.
4) Lycium is in the Solanaceae (nightshade family). Elaeagnus is in the Elaeagnaceae (oleaster family). They are not related, nor have they been each other's synonyms.
5) You can buy lycium berries (Lycium barbarum) in bulk herb stores at $7-$10 a pound. Good quality lycium berries are the same stuff that is sold as goji for a far higher price. By the way, sulphured lycium berries are bright red-orange, and they are not good quality.
6) The statement that Chinese-grown Lycium berries are pesticide-laden is just commercial competitor-bashing. If somebody tries to tell you that ask them for the lab reports.

The name "goji berry" comes of course from the Chinese name for lycium: Gou Qi Zi. It helps to know that qi is pronounced "chi".

There. Now, don't get hoodwinked, don't hop onto bandwagons, and don't buy goji berries. Buy unsulphured lycium berries instead. Your wallet will thank you.

Update: Before you decide to comment on this post: nobody but me will ever see your pro-himalayan-goji propaganda here, and I only read the first two or three lines of your comment before I push the "delete" button. Like this: clicky clicky.
Because I won't let any MLM scammers hawk their wares on my blog. So shoo. And do stay away, there's a good scammer.

Update: Comments are now closed.

February 2017: A large Swedish food store chain has tested goji berries and found contaminations in pretty much all of them (including Chinese).