Health Benefits of Bilberry Tea
Summary of Bilberry Tea Benefits
Use this herbal tea for:
- Lowering blood sugar
- Upset Stomach
- Eye health and vision
- Digestive tract health
- Mouth sores and ulcers
- Sore throat and inflammation
- Cystitis and urinary tract infections
Bilberry tea is made from the fruits and leaves of a shrub native to Europe and Asia. The leaves are very colorful, changing to a vivid red throughout the season. The ripe berries are black but have a downy covering that gives them a blue appearance.
The tea can contain fruits, leaves or a combination of both. Many people take this tea, particularly for eye health and for its effect on reducing blood sugar - although it is not suitable for Diabetics who need to take medication.
It is also very helpful for protecting against upset stomach and urinary tract infections and for these two reasons, the teabags are a very popular addition to 'holiday essentials' packing lists! Bilberry tea contains a substance that naturally inhibits the growth of those bacterial 'nasties', the micro-organisms that grow in the intestinal tract and cause the symptoms of 'holiday tummy' including diarrhea and dysentery.
When Not To Use Bilberry Tea
Do Not Use If:
- You are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- You have surgery scheduled. Stop taking Bilberry tea at least two weeks before any planned surgery. This is because it could cause a problem with control of your blood sugar during and after your surgery.
- You take insulin or by mouth medications for the control of Diabetes.
- You take anticoagulant or anti-platelet drugs to slow blood clotting.
You should not take the leaf tea for prolonged periods as Bilberry tea side effects may include excessive lowering of blood sugar.
How To Make Bilberry Tea
The simplest and most convenient way is to use teabags.
I recommend Alvita Bilberry Tea bags because they contain only top quality ingredients, they contain no caffeine, the bags are not chlorine bleached and there are no strings or staples in the pack.
To make your tea using these teabags, just place one bag in a porcelain or glass tea cup and pour on up to 6 fluid ounces of boiling water. Leave the teabag to steep in the water for around three minutes and gently press the teabag against the side of the cup with the back of a teaspoon when removing to get maximum flavor.
Making Tea From Whole Dried Bilberries
Making your own tea from whole, dried bilberries is easy to do:
Just use about half a teaspoon of the dried berries per cup, pour over boiling water, leave to steep for up to five minutes according to taste, strain and serve.
Making Bilberry Leaf Tea
This tea has a very different taste although it has similar properties to tea made with the dried fruits.
Use one to two teaspoons of the dried leaves for each cup, pour on boiling water and leave to steep for up to ten minutes. Strain and serve.
Editor's Note. A tea ball is very useful if you want to make a single cup using either the dried fruit or leaves. It allows the flavors to infuse in the boiling water without the need for straining afterwards - just lift out the tea ball and it is ready to drink.
To prepare as a tea, pour 8 oz. boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of herb. Cover and steep for 5-10 minutes, strain and serve immediately.
Bilberry tea can be quite bitter so natural honey is the best sweetener if you find the bitterness does not suit your palate. It is also delicious when served chilled from the refrigerator or with ice.
Alternative Names for Bilberry
You may come across Bilberry called by a number of other names.
Airelle, Arándano, Black Whortles, Bleaberry, Brimbelle, Burren Myrtle, Dwarf Bilberry, Dyeberry, European Blueberry, Feuille de Myrtille, Fruit de Myrtille, Gueule Noire, Huckleberry, Hurtleberry, Mauret, Myrtille, Myrtille Européenne, Myrtilli Fructus, Raisin des Bois, Swedish Bilberry, Trackleberry, Vaccinium myrtillus, Vaccinium corymbosum, Whortleberry, Wineberry.
The list above is published on the website of the University of Maryland Medical Center
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Directions For Treating Different Conditions With Bilberry
- Diarrhea or Dysentery
Make double strength tea with two teabags per cup or glass and take two to three times a day until symptoms subside. After this, take one cup once a day until completely recovered.
- Eye Problems
If you feel your eyes do not adapt well to darkness, when driving, for example, or if you are suffering from eyestrain after concentrating for long periods at your computer or on craft projects, use Bilberry teabags daily to strengthen your vision. Many people also take the tea to protect their eyes against the degenerative eye problems that can occur with age, such as macular degeneration.
- Throat Infections, Sore Throat and Mouth, Mouth Ulcers
Use Bilberry tea as a gargle two to three times a day when you have acute symptoms and during colds or flu. It is very soothing and healing.
Grow Your Own Bilberries
Bilberry is a plant with many beneficial uses. The fruits are similar to blueberries (although smaller) and can be made into jam and used in pies. In WWII, RAF pilots and Bomber crews were said to be particularly fond of Bilberry Jam as they said it improved their night vision!
The plant grows as a small woody shrub, about 18" high and can be successfully grown in gardens.
Plant about 12" apart if you have room for more than one but if not, the plant is self fertile so you will still get fruits.
Leaves and Fruits can be harvested and dried or frozen ready for use in herbal tea.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and that if nothing else, it may encourage you to pack a few Bilberry tea bags when you are off on vacation!
© 2014 Alison Graham
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