What is Bilberry ?
Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) is a member of the Ericaceae family, and is also known as European blueberry, huckleberry, whortleberry, or blueberry.
It is a shrubby perennial plant one to two feet in height and can be found in the mountains and forests of Europe and the northern United States.Its branches contain alternating, elliptical, bright green leaves, and its flowers, which appear from April to June, are reddish or pink, and bell-shaped. The fruit of the bilberry plant is blue-black or purple and differs from the American blueberry in that the meat of the fruit is purple, rather than cream or white Fruitis harvested July through September, and time of ripeness is somewhat dependent on plant elevation. Plants growing at higher elevations generally ripen later than those at lower elevations. Bilberry has been used as food for centuries due to its high nutritive value, and today represents a precious wild delicacy.
Bilberry’s history of medicinal use dates back to the Middle Ages, but it did not become widely known to herbalists until the 16th century when its use was documented for treating bladder stones biliary disorders, scurvy, coughs, and lung tuberculosis.More recently, bilberry fruit extracts have been used for the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, and mouth and throat inflammations. Bilberry leaf decoctions have been used to lower blood sugar in diabetes.Currently, bilberry research is focused on the treatment of ocular disorders, vascular disorders, and diabetes mellitus.Several active constituents have been isolated from the berries and leaves of the bilberry plant,including anthocyanoside flavonoids (anthocyanins), vitamins, sugars, and pectins, which are found in the berries, and quercetin, catechins, tannins, iridoids, and acids, which are found in the leaves. Theanthocyanosides are considered the most important of the pharmacologically active components.Anthocyanoside concentration in the fresh fruit is approximately 0.1 to 0.25 percent, while concentrated bilberry extracts are usually standardized to 25-percent anthocyanosides.The berry’s anthocyanoside content increases as the fruit ripens, while the reverse is true of its leaf Constituents.
The fruits are eaten fresh or made into jams, fools, juices or pies. In France and Italy they are used as a base for liqueurs and are a popular flavoring for sorbets and other desserts. In Brittany they are often used as a flavoring for crêpes, and in the Vosges and the Massif Central bilberry tart (tarte aux myrtilles) is a traditional dessert. In Romania they are used as a base for a liqueur called afinată – the name of the fruit in Romanian is afină. In Scandinavia, they are eaten fresh or made into jams and other dishes, including bilberry pie (Finnish mustikkapiirakka, Swedish blåbärspaj) and blåbärssoppa, a bilberry soup served hot or cold. In Iceland they are popularly eaten with skyr (a cultured dairy product similar to yoghurt). In Poland, they are either eaten fresh (mixed with sugar), put into sweet buns as a filling (known as a jagodzianka and a popular bakery product during the summer), or used to make jams (known for their health benefits in the treatment of diarrhoea). They are sometimes served with sweet smetana (a soured cream).
They are sometimes associated with improvement in night vision: RAF pilots are said to have consumed bilberry jam during World War II to sharpen their vision for night missions, although the origins of the story are obscure and there is no medical evidence for such an effect. Bilberries have been used in a variety of folklore and traditional medicine, but there are no proven health benefits or anti-disease effects from consuming them.
How does it work?
Bilberry contains chemicals called tannins that can help improve diarrhea, as well as mouth and throat irritation, by reducing swelling (inflammation). There is some evidence that the chemicals found in bilberry leaves can help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Some researchers think that chemicals called flavonoids in bilberry leaf might also improve circulation in people with diabetes. Circulation problems can harm the retina of the eye.
Just like its cousins, huckleberry, and blueberry, bilberry is the richest natural sources of anthocyanin, which  is an antioxidant that provides it the dark blue color. Along with anthocyanin, it also contains other phenolic components such as quercetin, tannins, pectin, and catechins. It also contains alkaloids, carbonic acids, and a range of vital nutrients including vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, and K. The mineral treasure present in it chromium, manganese, zinc, and iron.
7 Top Bilberry Benefits
1. Improved Vision
Due to the anthocyanosides, bilberry is widely used to improve night vision or vision handicaps in low light, decreasing vascular permeability and capillary fragility. It was reported that during World War II, British fighter pilots had improved nighttime vision after eating bilberry jam.
Bilberry has been suggested as a treatment for retinopathy, which is damage to the retina. Bilberry has also exhibited protective effects against and macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.
2. Helps Eliminate Circulation Problems
In Europe, health care professionals use bilberry extracts to treat circulation problems, also known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Research suggests that this condition, which occurs when valves in veins in the legs that carry blood to the heart are damaged, may be improved by taking bilberry extract. Other research suggests that taking bilberry anthocyanins daily for up to six months might improve swelling, pain, bruising and burning associated with CVI.
3. Improve Bad Cholesterol
The amazing anthocyanosides found in bilberries may strengthen blood vessels and prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, a major risk factor for atherosclerosis that is the plaque that blocks blood vessels leading to heart attack and stroke.
A study reported that bilberry enrichment, when compared to black currants, reduced total and LDL-cholesterol levels. In fact, the total anthocyanin content was four times higher in bilberries than in black currants, possibly making it a better choice for reducing LDL cholesterol levels.
4. May Improve the Blood Sugar in Diabetics
Traditionally, bilberry leaves have been used to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Research shows that most berries help reduce the body’s glucose response after eating a high-sugar meal and studies suggest bilberry may be effective for managing blood sugar levels, particularly when combined with oatmeal, though more research is needed.
5. Help Prevent Cancer
In vitro work and animal tumorigenic models have demonstrated that bilberry anthocyanins have cancer-preventive qualities and suppressive activity due to antioxidants; the berries also have anti-inflammatory effects. A commercial anthocyanin-rich extract from bilberry was shown to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells. In a DNA study, an anti-inflammatory profile was seen in macrophages treated with a bilberry extract and since inflammation is an important risk factor for cancer, bilberry may be very useful in its prevention.
6. Effective for Treating Diarrhea
Bilberry has been used in European medicine to treat diarrhea for many years. The fruit contains tannins, substances that act as both an anti-inflammatory and an astringent that helps with constricting and tightening tissues. By reducing intestinal inflammation, bilberry is believed to help with reducing the symptoms of diarrhea.
7. Lower the Risks of Alzheimer’s Disease
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 and showed that behavioral abnormalities may have been alleviated.
Uses Of Bilberry
Bilberry can be consumed in fresh, dried, powdered, extracted, or in liquid form. When purchasing bilberry extract, ensure that you buy the ones that have 25% anthocyanin in it for good health results. There are different ways to serve bilberry such as:
1.Add bilberry fruit or the leaves to hot water and serve yourself a healthy bilberry tea drink!
2.Use bilberry as a filling for pies and tarts.
3.Prepare bilberry jams and relish it with bread.
4.You can also drink some refreshing bilberry juice. The juice is also used as a base for liqueur and as a flavoring for sorbets and other desserts.
5.If you are lazy to do any of the above, just gobble it up in its raw form! It serves as a yummy snack too.
25% HPLC UV
Purple Red fine powder
25% HPLC UV
Purple Red fine powder