Dermatologic Uses and Effects of Lycium Barbarum

Fig. 5.1
a, b Smoothing effect of 3 % Instalift™ Goji solution applied to mature facial skin (a: time 0; b: time 60 min). Note the transformation in b of the initially well-visible (yellow arrows) wrinkles in a. c, d Microscopic image of the tightening effect of same solution spread on glass slide (left of the meniscus line pointed by black arrow), indicating the possible mechanism of action in vivo (mag.: ×40, c: time 0; d: time 60 min). (Reprinted with permission from RON)

5.2 Wound Healing

Given the above-mentioned beneficial effects of LB on human skin, we searched and failed to locate any publications pertaining to the effect—whether positive or negative—of this medicinal plant on wound healing. Therefore, we conducted a 3-day study on a partial thickness wound model in FT (full thickness) skin substitutes (MatTek, Ashland, MA), where the epidermal layer is peeled off and the underlying dermal layer is exposed. The histochemical Masson trichrome stain at day 3 (Fig. 5.2) shows that compared to the untreated control, the LBP-treated wounds present a more advanced stage of healing. The difference with controls consists in fibroblasts (dark purple stain), which appear to migrate upward providing topical coverage of the wound, while increasing the collagen output (the blue stain) to facilitate this migration (Sunny BioDiscovery, Inc. unpublished results). This is in agreement with the other two reports of the stimulatory effect of LBP on human dermal fibroblasts (Zhao et al. 2005; Wang et al. 2011) and with the general understanding of the role of the directional migration of fibroblasts during wound healing (Song et al. 2013). However, there is no straight path to LBP-based wound dressings. This is because LB peptidoglycans were reported to potentiate the effect of warfarin—a blood thinner, raising concerns about the adverse effects on blood coagulation (Lam et al. 2001; Ge et al. 2014). Interestingly, both coagulants and anticoagulants have been reported to stimulate wound healing (Carney et al. 1992; Fan et al. 2014) and whether LB interferes with this process in the absence of warfarin, as well as the utility of LB in wound dressings remain to be discovered.


Fig. 5.2
Effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBP) on early-stage (day 3) wound healing in epidermis-stripped human skin substitutes (MatTek), as visualized by the trichrome stain (mag. × 200). a Control (water); b LBP (500 μg/mL). Note more intense blue collagen stain and more fibroblasts migrated upward to the wound bed in the LBP-treated tissue as compared with the water control


We would like to thank Stephanie Ma for her expert assistance in this project and George Majewski for helpful discussions.


LB is a versatile medicinal herb with many health benefits and a few, mostly benign side effects (such as temporary nosebleed following overconsumption (> 1 g) of LBP). The dermatologic activities of LB are poorly understood, in part because of the lack of motivation due to the regulatory constrains in Asian countries traditionally utilizing in this plant. We hope that this chapter conveys the potential of LB in skin and wound care, and encourages more preclinical and clinical explorations in this direction.


Carney DH, Mann R, Redin WR, et al. Enhancement of incisional wound healing and neovascularization in normal rats by thrombin and synthetic thrombin receptor-activating peptides. J Clin Invest. 1992;89:1469–77.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMed

Chung IM, Ali M, Praveen N, Yu BR, Kim SH, Ahmad A. New polyglucopyranosyl and polyarabinopyranosyl of fatty acid derivatives from the fruits of Lycium chinense and its antioxidant activity. Food Chem. 2014;151:435–43. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.11.061.CrossRefPubMed

Jun 28, 2017 | Posted by in PHARMACY | Comments Off on Dermatologic Uses and Effects of Lycium Barbarum

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