Wolfberry: A Traditional Chinese Ingredient with Immune Benefits for the Elderly

To other newsLausanne, SWITZERLAND,Aug 16, 2012

Wolfberry, also known as the Goji Berry, is a fruit of great significance in the Chinese diet. It has gained attention outside of China in recent years for its high antioxidant content and potential health benefits; however clinical studies supporting its effects are lacking.

Dried wolfberry fruit Dried wolfberry fruit

Scientists at the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland and in Beijing, China, demonstrated that wolfberry (in a milk formulation) had a positive effect on immune function in healthy elderly Chinese people. To our knowledge, this is the largest randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial examining dietary supplementation of wolfberry in this population.

The present study aimed to demonstrate if dietary supplementation with Lacto-Wolfberry (a milk-based wolfberry formulation) would enhance the vaccine response in older Chinese adults. Lacto-Wolfberry and placebo were provided as powders of similar appearance and taste, given every day for three months in a hot water soup at lunch time.

After 30 days of supplementation, all study participants received a seasonal influenza vaccine. Total and influenza-specific antibody response to the vaccine was evaluated on days 0, 30, 60 and 90 of the trial.

Results showed that the effect was significantly higher in the group that received Lacto-Wolfberry. The Lacto-Wolfberry group responded positively to the vaccine with increased levels of specific antibodies. The data provides strong scientific evidence that Lacto-Wolfberry may be beneficial for reinforcing immune function, especially for immune-compromised populations, such as the elderly.

Study participants Study participants are given a soup supplemented with Lacto-Wolfberry.

Immune function often declines as people age - including the immune response to external challenges such as viruses and bacteria. As a relevant objective measure of immune competence, vaccine response is often used to evaluate immune status.

“The outcomes of the present study, as well as data from previous studies on Lacto-Wolfberry, suggest that dietary supplementation with Lacto-Wolfberry result in the strengthening of the immune system,” said Dr. Karine Vidal, Nestlé scientist leading the study. “We believe that this could translate into a clinical benefit, such as a reduced rate of respiratory infections.”

“Wolfberry has a strong reputation in Chinese culture as being beneficial for vision, as well as being regarded as an anti-ageing ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine,” said Dr. Junkuan Wang, Head of Nestlé Research Center Beijing. “This is the first placebo-controlled study to show that wolfberry, in a milk formulation, is beneficial for strengthening the immune system.”

Related Links
Nestlé Research Center Beijing

Nestlé study: Immunomodulatory effects of dietary supplementation with a milk-based wolfberry formulation in healthy elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Nestlé and Hong Kong Polytechnic Technical University study: Enhanced bioavailability of zeaxanthin in a milk-based formulation of wolfberry

Nestlé study: Goji berry effects on macular characteristics and plasma antioxidant levels