Monday, October 20, 2008


Bilberries look very much like blueberries. They have been used in European medicine to help support vision, circulation and diarrhea.

The Bilberry bush grows wild throughout the forests and meadows of many parts of Europe and western Asia, and also in the Rocky mountain regions of North America. The bilberry is closely related to the blueberry, cranberry and the huckleberry, and it shares the health benefits of those related fruits.
Benefits of bilberry:
Bilberry contains flavonoids called anthocyanosides, which are found largely in dark-skinned fruits, and act as potent antioxidants in the body. These anthocyanosides are thought to be at least part of the reason that bilberry is effective in treating such eye disorders such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and cataracts. In one Italian study, a combination of bilberry extracts and vitamin E stopped the progression of cataracts in 97 percent of the study participants. Bilberry may also help improve night vision. British pilots in World War II ate bilberry jam before flying at night, claiming that the jam gave them better vision. Some research seems to indicate that the pilots were correct—bilberry may help the eyes adjust to different light intensities more quickly.
In Europe, a bilberry extract called Vaccinium Myrtillus Anthocyanoside (VMA) is a popular treatment for chronic venous insufficiency, a condition characterized by swelling, varicose veins, pain, itching, and skin ulcers in the legs.
It might also prove to be an effective treatment for Raynaud’s disease, a condition that causes numbness and pain in the outer extremities (fingers, toes, nose) upon exposure to the cold--the anti-inflammatory properties of bilberry help reduce the stress on capillaries, and relax small blood vessels, which helps keep the blood flowing to all parts of the body. Because bilberry strengthens the capillaries, it is also used to discourage bruising.
Bilberry promotes good circulation and strengthens artery walls, and thus may be an effective treatment for atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up on the artery walls and blocks the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart.
Bilberry’s anti-inflammatory properties also work to reduce the overall inflammation, including inflammation of the gums, that has been linked with heart disease. Bilberry has long been used to ease gastrointestinal discomfort. During the 16th century in England, eating bilberries mixed with honey was a popular remedy for diarrhea. Today, Commission E, an expert panel that evaluates herbal medicines in Germany, endorses bilberry as a treatment for diarrhea. The commission also recommends bilberry for treatment of mouth sores—bilberry is thought to have strong antiseptic qualities, and initial studies indicate that it may be an effective treatment for peptic ulcers as well. Bilberry has also been used traditionally in the treatment of diabetes, fibrocystic breast disease, and painful menstruation.

What is it inside the bilberry herb that enables it to provide such amazing benefits? They are the following: arbutin, ericolin, beta-amyrin, anthocyanosides (strengthens the walls of the capillary and vascular system), nonacosane.
Conditions helped by bilberry:
• Diarrhea
• Dysentery
• Mouth and Throat Inflammations
• Atherosclerosis
• Peripheral Vascular Disease
• Cataracts
• Diabetes mellitus
• Fibrocystic breast disease
• Retinopathy
• Stomach Ulcers
• Gout
• Urinary Tract Infections

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