Bilberry is also known as blueberry and huckleberry. It gets its name from its Latin name Vaccinium myrtillus and it is part of the Ericaceae or blueberry family. Bilberry refers to the leaves of the blueberry bush. The blueberry bush grows to be around one foot tall and it produces sweet blueberries. The flowers are bell-shaped, white, pale pink or red, sometimes tinged greenish. It can be found growing in North America and Europe in damp, acidic soils.
The fruit is a false berry with a flared “crown” at the end. The berries are pale greenish at first, then reddish-purple, and finally indigo on ripening. They have a sweet taste to them when mature. Blueberry bushes bear fruit from May through October in the Northern Hemisphere. Did you know that “blueberry season” peaks in July, which is National Blueberry Month in the United States and Canada?
Bilberry extract strengthens capillaries, which helps to protect the eye from hemorrhaging associated with diabetic retinopathy and it aids in treating other vascular disorders such as hemorrhoids, varicose veins and it also helps to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Bilberry has some specific benefits for treating health conditions that include the following:
Atherosclerosis and high blood pressure bilberry extract strengthens the collagen that makes up the lining of arterial walls and this in turn keeps atherosclerotic plaques from forming on the lining. This also helps to keep the arteries flexible which fight’s high blood pressure.
Diabetes bilberry contains a component, anthocyanoside, that is an active blood sugar reducer even though it is weaker it is however less toxic. Bilberry has many beneficial effects on many problems that are caused by diabetes.
Diarrhea bilberry contains a compound called tannin that “tan” the interior lining of the intestines which keeps them from transporting water into the stool. Taken bilberry over the course of one or two days relieves mild diarrhea.
Eye disorders bilberry contains anthocyanidins that have potent antioxidant properties that protect capillaries from free radical damage. Bilberry extracts are often promoted for a source of protection for cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma because capillary damage is the primary cause of these conditions. Bilberry tea lowers blood sugar levels directly which indicates that the herb may reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy. Bilberry also regenerates rhodopsin which is the purple pigment that is used by the rods in the eye for night vision.
Gout, inflammatory joint disease and rheumatoid arthritis Collagen is the most abundant protein of the body and is destroyed as a result gout, inflammatory joint disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Anthocyanidins prevent collagen destruction and they also prevent the release and synthesis of compounds that promote inflammation.
Peptic ulcer bilberry contains cyanidins which counteract the formation of peptic ulcers caused by alcohol, allergy, nonsteroidal anti-flammatory agents (NSAIDs) and stress.
Prostatitis complex carbohydrates contained in bilberry and blueberries have been shown to keep E. coli, often responsible for Prostatitis, bacteria from adhering to the linings of the bladder and the intestines.
Bilberry is commercially available in tablets and also as a dried herb bagged for making teas. Did you know that some products contain lutein combined with bilberry which is another supplement that is useful in maintaining eye health? If the best results you should eat dark-green, orange and yellow vegetables daily when you are taking bilberry.
You should not use bilberry teas for more than one month at a time and if blood appears in your urine while you are taken bilberry, discontinue using it. You should not bilberry while pregnant or nursing or if you are taking anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin). If you are diabetic you should make sure to monitor your blood sugar and any diabetic medications while taking bilberry to prevent hypoglycemia.