Eyes On Bilberry
Also known as Vaccinium Myrtillus, bilberry is a shrub that grows about 16 inches in height. It has oval, pointed leaves and small, pink and white flowers which bloom from April through June. Bilberry is a relative of blueberry, cranberry and huckleberry, and its fruits look and tastes much like blueberry.
Both the fruit and leaves of bilberries are rich in compounds known as anthocyanidins. Anthocyanidins are a type of flavonoid; and extremely powerful antioxidant. As antioxidants, the flavonoids in bilberry extract can prevent damage caused by free radicals that result from oxygen reactions in the body.
Bilberry is also rich in tannins. Tannins is a substance that acts as an astringent, thereby helping bleeding to stop.
The Benefits And Uses Of Bilberry
- Bilberry extract helps to protect the eye from free radical damage by strengthening the tiny capillaries that affect vision. The capillaries can become damaged by diabetes and hypertension. By increasing microcirculation in the eye, the anthocyanidins in bilberry extract can help to improve vision.
- Bilberry helps to keep the circulatory system to function smoothly. Studies suggest that bilberry helps increase capillary flexibility and restore normal flow in the legs. Bilberry extract can also be used to treat varicose syndrome which include pain and swelling in the calves and ankles.
- On the note of promoting better circulation, bilberry extract also prevents blockage of blood vessels by calcium or fat deposits. This helps to prevent atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries cause by deposits of plaque.
- Because of its antioxidant properties, some experts propose that bilberry may relieve the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Bilberry has been most commonly used for diarrhea and mild inflammation of the mouth and throat.
How Should Bilberry Be Taken?
Bilberry fruit can be eaten or made into extracts. Its leaves can be used to make tea. Bilberry extract is available in capsules or tablets, of which supplements should be standardized to contain at least 25% anthocyanidins. The usual dosage of bilberry extract is extremely safe, and no known side effects or drug interactions had been reported.
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Who Should Not Take Bilberry?
All groups of people listed below should consult their physician prior to taking bilberry:
- those with blood clotting disorder
- those on medication to prevent blood clots
- pregnant women
- women who are breastfeeding