Latin name: Vaccinium myrtillus
Other name: European blueberry, myrtle blueberry
What is a Bilberry?
Bilberry is a low-growing shrub that bears edible berries. A close relative of blueberries and huckleberries, bilberries are used to make dye, as well as jellies and jams. High in antioxidants, the bilberry fruit is smaller than that of the blueberry but has a more robust flavor. Bilberries grow naturally in Europe, where the berries have been used for the past thousand years to treat diarrhea, scurvy, and other conditions.
What are the health benefits of Bilberries?
Nowadays, this antioxidant fruit is used to treat diarrhea, menstrual cramps, vision problems, varicose veins, and circulatory problems.
Several studies have shown that bilberry extracts stimulate blood vessels to release a substance that helps expand veins and arteries. Bilberries prevent clotting and improve circulation by keeping blood platelets from clumping together. Their strong antioxidant activity protects body tissues, particularly blood vessels, from toxic agents circulating in the blood.
Bilberries also show some promise in the area of diabetes treatment. Two common complications of diabetes, diabetic eye disease and kidney disease, often begin when the tiny capillaries of these organs are injured by the presence of excessive sugar. The antioxidants in bilberry help prevent the toxins from causing permanent damage to the lining of blood vessels.
What are the guidelines for taking Bilberry?
The fruit of the bilberry plant can be eaten or made into extracts. Similarly, the leaves of the bilberry plant can be made into extracts or used to make teas.
Are there any precautions for taking Bilberry?
Bilberry leaves do not have the same properties as those of the berries, and they contain chemicals that irritate the liver. People with insulin-dependent diabetes should not use bilberry leaves. However, the berries do not seem to interfere with diabetes medications and may help prevent some complications of diabetes. As with all herbs, it is best to consult a licensed practitioner or physician.
Where can I find Bilberries?
Bilberries and bilberry extract can be found in natural food stores, herbal apothecaries, online, and some European gourmet shops.
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