What is Bilberry? It sounds a lot like blueberry, and rightfully so, as it’s a relative to the benefit-rich blueberry and is most commonly used to make jams and pies. But did you now it’s also been used for centuries in medicine and food?
What makes this berry so phenomenal is that it is one of the richest natural sources of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are components that give it its blue/black color and super-high antioxidant content, making it a true superfood berry with a ton of benefits:
Due to the anthocyanosides, Bilberry is widely used to improve night vision or vision handicaps in low light – its extracts stimulate the production of rhodopsin pigment which supports the eye to adapt to light changes. Scientific studies have also shown the effectiveness of Bilberry in preventing age-related ocular disorders along with other eye diseases such as cataract, glaucoma, macular degeneration and night-blindness.
Bilberry has been suggested as a treatment for retinopathy, which is damage to the retina.It was even reported that during World War II, British fighter pilots had improved nighttime vision after eating bilberry jam.
Traditionally, bilberry leaves have been used to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes due to the rich concentration of anthocyanins. Research shows that most berries help reduce the body’s glucose response after eating a high-sugar meal and studies suggest it is effective for managing blood sugar levels, particularly when combined with oatmeal.
The amazing anthocyanosides found in bilberries strengthen blood vessels and prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, a major risk factor for atherosclerosis – the plaque that blocks blood vessels leading to heart attack and stroke.
A study reported that bilberry reduced total and LDL-cholesterol levels. In fact, the total anthocyanin content was four times higher in bilberries than in black currants, making them a top choice for reducing LDL cholesterol levels.
Bilberry has been used in European medicine to treat diarrhea for many years. It contains tannins, substances that act as both an anti-inflammatory and an astringent that helps with constricting and tightening tissues. By reducing intestinal inflammation, it helps with reducing the symptoms of diarrhea, indigestion, and nausea.
In Europe, health care professionals use Bilberry to treat circulation problems, also known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). It helps to strengthen capillaries, stimulates circulation and prevents disorders like varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
Research suggests that this condition, which occurs when valves in veins that carry blood to the heart are damaged, is greatly improved by taking bilberry extract. Taking bilberry daily for up to six months improves swelling, pain, bruising and burning associated with CVI.
Free radicals are compounds that form in your body as a result of things like stress, pollution and a poor diet. Over time, the accumulation of free radicals can lead to cell damage and chronic disease. Antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals and have been shown to reduce the risk of conditions like heart disease and cancer.
The antioxidant power of bilberry makes it a valuable multipurpose remedy. It is a rich source of anthocyanosides – useful water-soluble chemicals that possess radical scavenging qualities. They seek out for oxygen-free radicals and neutralize their effects. This protective action prevents the occurrence of many problems caused by oxidative stress.
Bilberry has been found to be effective against the development of various cancers including colon cancer, breast cancer, and leukemia. A comparative study conducted on different berries has rendered bilberry to be the most potent in inhibition of cancerous cells. Its high anti-oxidant levels and anti-inflammatory effects are important for both prevention and treating of cancer. The same effects are helpful to prevent the negative side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.
Due to the astringent action of tannins and pectin present in bilberry, it has a soothing effect on stomach inflammations. It also heals inflammation caused by the mucous membranes of the throat and mouth when applied topically. Anti-inflammatory properties of this fruit also assist in curing conditions like thrombosis and angina.
Another antioxidant effect of bilberry is its defense against kidney damage. Scientific research has shown that its extracts help in normalizing multiple critical factors including levels of creatinine, serum, blood, urea, nitrogen, and nitric oxide. It also helps to excrete heavy metals from the body resulting in better detoxification and overall healthy functioning of the body!
Bilberry can reduce the risk of cognitive issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Evidence suggests that fruit and vegetable juices containing various phenolic compounds can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In some cases, symptoms of Alzheimer’s was significantly decreased upon treatment with myricetin, quercetin or anthocyanin-rich extracts found in Bilberry. This plant is a great choice to prevent Alzheimer’s but also to reverse its negative effects.
Bilberry supports and toughens the collagen structures, prevents bacterial growth and assists in detoxification of the body. It is also recommended by doctors prior to surgeries in order to reduce the associated bleeding later.