Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is fruit that resembles the blueberry, only smaller and appear black with a slight tint of blue. The Bilberry fruit naturally grows in the northern and western regions of the British Isles where the soil is acidic and damp. The berries are difficult to grow so they are seldom cultivated. Like American blueberries, bilberries are usually consumed fresh for their sweet taste. It is also used in cooking pies, jams, sorbets, and as base for liquors. More importantly, there are numerous protective Bilberry benefits for human health.
Bilberry is considered an herbal medicine for different health conditions. The research on its health benefits began during the World War II after British Royal Air Force Pilots noticed an improvement in their night vision after regularly eating bilberry jam before a mission. It contains active ingredients are antioxidants called anthocyanosides, which offers protection to the collagen structures in the blood vessels inside the eyes.
- Bilberry for eyes is used in the prevention and treatment of macular degeneration, cataract, and diabetic neuropathy. According to many studies, Bilberry contains rhodopsin, a very active ingredient that works by helping the eye to properly adapt to changes in lighting and improve vision at night. It also naturally supports healthy blood supply in the eyes to prevent vision problems related to ageing.
- Bilberry is an effective anti-diarrhetic agent. The bilberry fruit is often dried for its anti-diarrhea purpose, because the drying process stimulates the production of tannins. These tannins are the key to preventing diarrhea.
- Multiple studies suggest that Bilberry tea helps in reliving mild enteritis. Bilberry tea also has the ability to regulate normal bowel movements.
- In Europe, bilberry supplements are used for chronic venous insufficiency and other circulatory health problems. Bilberry benefits for chronic venous insufficiency relieve other related circulatory problems like varicose veins, itching, skin ulcers, and leg pain. It was also found to inhibit the onset of atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the hardening of the arteries.
- Bilberry possesses active antioxidant properties which produce anti-ageing effects. The cell damage from destructive free radicals are said to speed up the ageing process. Free radical damage causes the unhealthy signs of ageing like wrinkles, fine lines, low energy levels, low libido, cardiovascular diseases, vision health, and memory loss.
- Bilberry benefits women in the relief of menstrual cramps. Menstrual cramping is really painful, and causes a lot of discomfort in women during their periods.
Bilberry Side Effects
Known bilberry side effects include stomach upset, nausea, headache, and dizziness. In some cases, bilberry may cause thinning of blood.
Possible Drug Interactions
Caution should be observed when taking bilberry supplements while taking other medications. However, there have been no reports of adverse effects from taking bilberry supplements in conjunction with other drugs. Consulting a Doctor prior to taking bilberry capsules and pills is recommended.