Also known as huckleberries, whortleberries, blueberries etc., bilberries are the fruits of bilberry, a perennial ornamental shrub that is commonly found in various climates in damp woodlands and
The bilberry has been used for a long period of time as a medicinal herb due to its curative effects on our health. The berries (fruits) and the leaves are mainly used from this plant.
The berries contain flavonoids, anthocyanin and glucoquinine that help preventing or treating vascular and blood disorders like varicose veins, venous thrombosis, angina, capillary fragility.
Flavonoids are a class of naturally occurring plant compounds that function as antioxidants. They are plant pigments and even if they are not labeled as essential nutrients, they enhance the processing of vitamin C, which is itself a powerful antioxidant. Flavonoids are also needed to maintain capillary walls and protect against infections. Deficiency of flavonoids may lead to easily bruising.
Anthocyanin is a water soluble pigment found in plants, more specifically in the cell vacuole. It is usually red, purple or blue and gives the color of many flowers and plants. This pigment is also a powerful antioxidant and protects the plants from UV rays negative effects by absorbing the dangerous high light rays.
Glucoquinine is a compound found in all the berry plants and it has been used in multiple studies on insulin-addicted diabetics, as it is considered to reduce blood sugar levels and, therefore, the need for insulin administration.
The herb also contains vitamin A and C that, in combination with anthocyanin pigment, improve visual accuracy, improve blood circulation to the eyes and the nervous system and can prevent or fight against eyes disorders such as: retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma, myopia etc. This happens because anthocyanins are responsible for protecting the tissues of the retina of the eye against free radical damage. The vitamins and nutrients in bilberries also release visual fatigue and "night blindness."
The nutrients and vitamins in bilberries have anti-infective and anti-inflammatory actions, fighting successfully against urinary tract infections - like cystitis. Berry juice contains "antibiotic" substances called proanthocyanidins that annihilate the Escherichia coli bacteria which cause urinary tract infections and prevent these bacteria from adhering to the mucosal cells lining the urinary tract.
It has been scientifically proven that if poured in a test tube containing Escherichia coli, the bilberry juice can neutralize these bacteria within a 24 hours period. This is why drinking bilberry juice regularly - at least a glass per day - makes urinary infection risks less likely to occur.
Doctors also recommend bilberry in the prevention and treatment of gastritis and peptic ulcer.
Bilberry teas are very beneficial for stomach disorders and in soothing the digestive tract. This is due to the tannins in the bilberry which also help in speeding wound healing and reduce throat inflammation caused by flues, colds or different types of allergies.
The antioxidant effect of vitamins and other nutritive compounds of bilberries also protect against oxidative cell damage that can lead to age-related memory loss and cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer's disease.