Bilberry is an anti-inflammatory superfood packed with antioxidants - it prevents cancer and various illnesses, helps your eyes and kidney health, lowers diabetes and cholesterol, and boosts your brain power!
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.
Dosage and preparation:
Tea - Pour a cup of boiled water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of Bilberry fruit. Let it steep for an hour or two (you can also leave it overnight!). Drink the tea and eat the berries!Tincture - 20 to 30 drops, 3 times a day.
The taste: The taste of berries is sweet with slight tart and acidity. Prepared as a tea, the leaves have a herbal, gentle taste well paired with honey or lemon.
Precaution: Bilberry fruit and leaves are considered generally safe, with no known side effects. Still, it's important to note that the anthocyanosides in this fruit may stop blood from clotting, there may be an increased risk of bleeding if you take bilberry with blood-thinning medication, which includes aspirin.
Ask your doctor before taking bilberry, especially if you take blood-thinning medication, are diabetic, planning a surgery, pregnant or breastfeeding.
Disclaimer: Information on this website is based on research from the internet, books, articles and studies and/or companies selling herbs online. Statements in this website have not necessarily been evaluated and should not be considered as medical advice. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. for diagnosis or treatment consult your physician.Use herbs in moderation and watch for allergic reactions.If you are taking any other medication, are pregnant, breast feeding or suffering from a medical condition and/or are at all concerned about any of the advice or ingredients consult your doctor before taking the herbs.Remember that diet, exercise and relaxation are equally important to your health..
Bilberry has a long medicinal history in Europe. It has been used to treat anything from kidney stones to Typhoid fever.
Bilberry started growing in popularity in the 16th century when herbalists used it for a variety of ailments including lung, liver, and menstrual ailments. The bilberry claim to fame happened during World War II when British Royal Air Force pilots discovered the benefits of the berry for vision. When pilots consumed the bilberry before a night mission, they found a significant improvement in vision
Bilberry is also known as European blueberry, whortleberry, huckleberry and blaeberry and is a relative of blueberry, cranberry, and huckleberry. It looks and tastes much like the American blueberry, but is usually a bit smaller, and it is sometimes called blueberry because of their similarity. It usually grows in heaths, meadows and moist coniferous forests, thriving best in moderate shade and moderately humid ground conditions.
Bilberry is a spreading, low-growing, deciduous shrub with slender branches having tiny pinkish blossoms and bright green, oval and pointed leaves. The plant yields dark purple berries harvested during summer time and can be used fresh or in dried form. Today, they are cultivated in Northern Asia, Europe, and North America and are becoming quite popular as a delicious ingredient in preserves, pies, and jams as well as for their ability to treat a range of health conditions.
The blue/black color of the fruit comes from the compound anthocyanin - which is also responsable for its numerous benefits! It has a higher anthocyanin content compared to other types of berries, such as strawberry, cranberry, elderberry, sour cherry and raspberry making it a true superfood!
Common Names: Huckleberry, whortleberries, blueberry, European blueberry, bog berry, hurtle berry, blåbär (Swedish), Heidelbeere (German), petit myrte (Frence).