Lycium barbarum has been used in China for more than 2,000 years as a traditional medicinal herb and food supplement. Lycium barbarum contains abundant Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBPs), betaine, phenolics, carotenoids (zeaxanthin and β-carotene), cerebroside, 2-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-l-ascorbic acid (AA-2βG), β-sitosterol, flavonoids and vitamins (in particular, riboflavin, thiamine, and ascorbic acid). LBPs are the primary active components of Lycium barbarum. In this review, we discuss the pharmacological activities of LBPs and other major components. They have been reported to mediate significant anti-aging effects, through antioxidant, immunoregulative, anti-apoptotic activities and reducing DNA damage. Thus, the basic scientific evidence for anti-aging effects of LBPs is already available. However, additional studies are needed to understand mechanisms by which LBPs mediate anti-aging properties. Novel findings from such studies would likely pave the way for the clinical application of traditional chinese medicine Lycium barbarum in modern evidence-based medicine.
Keywords: Betaine; Lycium barbarum polysaccharides; anti-aging; antioxidant; apoptosis; immunoregulation.