Bilberry For Better Vision
"Where's the blue food?" George Carlin would demand during one of his comedy specials. (He wouldn't count blueberries because they were mostly purple). "They're hiding the blue food from us! Why? Does it bestow immortality?" Well, bilberries are blue, but it they don't bestow immortality.
However, they do strengthen your eyesight, making night driving clearer and small print easier to read. That's something for blue food, George.
What Are Bilberries?
Those in America may not be familiar with bilberries, which are very popular in Europe. They basically look like...well, like little blue berries. They come in other names such as bog bilberry and whortleberries. They are quitre sweet and make great teas, pastry fillings, jams or eaten by themselves.
Bilberries have long been a European folk remedy for poor eyesight, nearsightedness or for those who need their eyesight to become a bit clearer. Bilberry tea and jam were fed to British World War II bomber pilots who had to fly at night. That's how bilberry started to be seriously looked at as something to help you look at things. Europe takes bilberry's effects much more seriously than in America.
How Do They Work?
It is thought that bilberry accelerates the production of retinal purple, which helps protect and improve eyesight.
Taking bilberry capsules or drinking bilberry tea will NOT make the blind see, cure eye diseases or repair any damage to the eye. Sorry -- it's not that dramatic.
But if you are working night shift, or are having some problems driving at night, or have to read itty-bitty text all day, or have to go for nightly bombing runs over the skies or Europe, then bilberry can often help people do those taks much easier.
Bilberry has not been approved by the FDA to help in eye health. Bilberry is not predictable in who it will help. However, it certainly is one of the tastier natural remedies available, and it is legal to buy, sell or posess. And, there are no known negative effects from an overdose.
It is thought that bilberry can also thin the blood, so if you are on any blood thinning drugs, stay away from bilberry! You should also stay away from bilberry if you are pregnant, trying to conceive or are nursing.
Bilberry is best taken in capsule or tincture form, although they sure are tasty and make a sweet herbal tea. Pick one form and stick with that. You need to give it a few weeks before you know whether they help you or not.
It is still not known what the long term effects of taking bilberry are, so take only as much as recommended. Give your body a break from it every now and then.
Bilberry capsules have worked well for several members of my family (including myself) who took it for a few years and then stopped when driving or working at night could be avoided. I do think it helped me when I had to stock store shelves during the graveyard shift, when the store is at a dim lighting.
Like any other drug or medicine, results will vary.
Oh, and bilberries can also turn your tongue blue. Film by Hlucka.
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