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The medicinal herb Bilberry as an alternative herbal remedy for scurvy, diarrhea, menstrual cramps – Bilberry is a relative of the blueberry, and its fruit is commonly used to make pies and jams. Bilberry grows in North America, Europe, and northern Asia.Common Names–European blueberry, whortleberry, huckleberry Latin Names–Vaccinium myrtillus

  • Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) has several active constituents which have been isolated from the berries and leaves of the bilberry plant, including anthocyanoside flavonoids (anthocyanins), vitamins and pectins, which are found in the berries, and quercetin, catechins, tannins, iridoids, and acids, which are found in the leaves. It is traditionally recommended to promote healthy blood sugar levels as well as healthy insulin production. Bilberry also has excellent anti-oxidant properties due to high levels of anthocyanosides, further increasing the supportive health benefits of this remarkable herb. Regular use of Bilberry helps to support healthy vision as well as the health of the tiny blood capillaries which carry oxygen to the eyes (Bone K. “Bilberry-The vision herb”. MediHerb Prof Rev . 1997;59:1-4).

What Bilberry Is Used For

Herbal remedy for scurvy. Bilberry has been used for nearly 1,000 years in traditional European medicine.

Historically, bilberry fruit was used to treat diarrhea, scurvy, and other conditions. Today, the fruit is used to treat diarrhea, menstrual cramps, eye problems, varicose veins, venous insufficiency (poor blood flow to the heart), and other circulatory problems. Bilberry leaf is used for entirely different conditions, including diabetes. How Bilberry Is Used 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.

How Bilberry Is Used

What the Science Says about Bilberry

Some claim that bilberry fruit improves night vision, but clinical studies have not shown this to be true. There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of bilberry fruit or leaf for any other health conditions. NCCAM has not yet funded any research on bilberry.

Side Effects and Cautions of Bilberry

Bilberry fruit is considered safe. However, high doses of bilberry leaf or leaf extract are considered unsafe; animal studies have shown high doses to be toxic. Tell your health care providers about any herb or dietary supplement you are using, including bilberry. This helps to ensure safe and coordinated care.

Bilberry, a close relative of blueberry, has a long history of medicinal use. The dried fruit has been popular for the symptomatic treatment of diarrhea, for topical relief of minor mucus membrane inflammation, and for a variety of eye disorders, including poor night vision, eyestrain, and myopia.

Bilberry fruit and its extracts contain a number of biologically active components, including a class of compounds called anthocyanosides. These have been the focus of recent research in Europe.

Bilberry extract has been evaluated for efficacy as an antioxidant, mucostimulant, hypoglycemic, anti-inflammatory, “vasoprotectant,” and lipid-lowering agent. Although pre-clinical studies have been promising, human data are limited and largely of poor quality. At this time, there is not sufficient evidence in support of (or against) the use of bilberry for most indications. Notably, the evidence suggests a lack of benefit of bilberry for the improvement of night vision.

Bilberry is commonly used to make jams, pies, cobblers, syrups, and alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages. Fruit extracts are used as a coloring agent in wines.

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