Like other berries, the fruit of this tree in the myrtle family is loaded with potent antioxidants. Numerous studies indicate that bilberry anthocyanosides may help to prevent diabetic retinopathy and improve visual acuity and retinal function. In vitro studies suggest that bilberry may also have anti-cancer properties.
Bilberry Fruit and Leaf Profile
Also known as- Vaccinium myrtillus, European blueberry, Airelle, Bilberry Fruit, Bilberry Leaf, Black Whortles, Bleaberry, Blueberry, Burren Myrtle, Dwarf Bilberry, Dyeberry, Huckleberry, Hurtleberry, Myrtilli Fructus, Trackleberry, Whortleberry, Wineberry.
The European bilberry bush is a close relative of American blueberry, cranberry, and huckleberry. The fruit is suitable for use in making coffee cakes, muffins, quick breads, cobblers, jams, juices, and pies. The berries can also be dried and added to baked goods or tea blends. Both fruit and leaf are prepared as tea, the latter being diuretic and astringent for the urinary tract.
The bilberry has a long history of medicinal use. Hildegard of Bingen wrote 900 years ago to recommend the use of bilberries to treat amenorrhea. Renaissance physicians used bilberries to treat conditions ranging from kidney stones to typhoid fever. The best known application of the herb in modern medicine, however, arose during World War II. British Royal Air Force Pilots reported that a dollop of bilberry jam just before a mission improved their night vision, sometimes dramatically.
Benzoic acid, caffeic acid, epicatechin, Epigallocatechin (EPCG), gallic acid, hydroquinone, isoquercetin, quercetin.
Dried fruit, jam, bilberry leaf powder tablets, bilberry leaf and dried fruit tea.
After the successful use of bilberry jam in World War II, researchers determined that bilberry fruit and bilberry leaf contain biologically active substances called anthocyanosides. Scientists believe that these chemicals may strengthen the walls of the blood vessels in the eye and benefit the retina, reduce inflammation, and stabilize tissues containing cartilage, such as ligaments and tendons. The herb is also used to treat a variety of conditions that benefit from arterial support, including bruising, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.
The effect of bilberry on night vision is most consistent in people who already have poor night vision. The herb probably will not improve night vision in people who already have good night vision. For best results, take bilberry on a regular basis, but also use blueberries, cranberries, elderberries, raspberries, and strawberries to support cardiovascular and retinal health.
Bilberry fruit is known to be safe even for pregnant women, although eating too much can cause minor stomach upset. Maximum dosages of bilberry leaf have not been established for nursing mothers, young children, or people with severe liver or kidney disease, but there are no reports of toxicity. Bilberry leaf may lower blood sugars in diabetics. This herb may also increase the affects of diuretic and anticoagulant medications, so check with yur doctor before using this herb. The leaf is not recommended for long term use.