Veterinarian Reviewed on June 15, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
Bilberry Berry (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Bilberry berry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a shrub that bears edible berries. It is a large family of plants that have many related species as well. The Bilberry berry is also known as blueberry, whortleberry, whinberry, windberry, myrtle blueberry and also black hearts.
The Bilberry berry is cultivated in temperate and subartic regions and is related to blueberries but appear much smaller and are darker in color. The Bilberry berry and the Bilberry leaves are used in many medicinal treatments. The berries can also be used for food stuffs like in jams, juices and for fillings for pies.
History and Origin
The Bilberry berries were historically collected and eaten or were made into many different types of food. This plant is very difficult to cultivate and in many parts of Europe, it is collected in public lands. It may be confused with the blueberry especially in several European languages.
In ancient times, the Bilberry berry is usually used as a food but the leaves of the Bilberry plant is also used as a poultice for burns, wounds, boils as well as for skin infections.
The Bilberry berry actually contains chemicals called tannins that have been found to be very effective in the treatment of many different types of gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, stomach pains, indigestion, bloating and even gas. Tannins also help in reducing inflammations of the oral cavity and lessen throat irritation.
Chemicals that are found in the Bilberry berry can also lower blood sugar levels that could benefit people with diabetes. It can also lower cholesterol levels and can ultimately lower blood pressure as well. The effect of the Bilberry berry in the circulatory system can benefit people that suffer with chest pain, atherosclerosis and varicose veins.
The Bilberry berry also has anti inflammatory functions that can be effective for arthritis, gout and skin problems. It can also help improve blood circulation that can treat hemorrhoids. The Bilberry berry is also proven effective in the treatment of urinary tract infections and kidney infections.
The effect of eating Bilberry berries to improve night vision is just an old wives tale. However there have been studies conducted regarding the therapeutic effects of Bilberry berry in inhibiting macular degeneration.
Bilberry berries have a very high antioxidant content; it can help speed up cell regeneration and thus has become a common ingredient in anti aging skin products.
Little is known of the effect of the Bilberry berry in pregnant and breastfeeding women so it is definitely contraindicated. It may also pose a risk to very young children. If you would like to use Bilberry berry extracts and dietary supplements for your illness, consult your doctor or herbalist first. Bilberry berries may lower blood sugar so it is definitely important to monitor your blood sugar levels especially when you are taking diabetes medications. It may also interfere with the effect of other medications so it is best to consult your doctor regarding its use.
Taking Bilberry berry extracts and food products made from Bilberry berries such as jams and juices are safe and there are no side effects whatsoever in taking more than recommended when it is in this form.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan