- Aging & Longevity
Bilberry Health Benefits
Bilberry - Known as the Herb For Healthy Eyes
What is Bilberry (Vaccinium Myrtillus)
Bilberries are similar to blueberries in appearance and are related but a different species. Bilberries are commonly eaten in Europe and are referred to as the "European Blueberry". Bilberries grow either as single berries on the shrub or in pairs. Blueberries grow in clusters on the shrub. Bilberry pulp is either red or purple in color where blueberry pulp is light green in color. Both berries are known for their antioxidant properties, however, bilberries contain a much higher concentrate of active substances anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a form of isoflavoniods and have been studied extensively to validate their effectiveness of reducing cell damage caused by oxidative stress. Studies also demonstrate the possibility that they contain anti-inflammatory properties as well as act as protection against vision impairment and improvement in some eye diseases. Current studies are underway to find out if bilberry aids in lowering blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can lead to diabetes; a disease that can affect sight and possibly lead to blindness. It was thought previously that bilberry supplements could improve night vision for those impaired by "night blindness". Further studies revealed that there was no conclusive scientific evidence to prove this to be true. However, similar studies have proven bilberry to be effective in lowering blood sugar levels as well as helping in the prevention of getting cataracts. Dried bilberry fruit and bilberry tea are used as a treatment for diarrhea and relief from nausea and other digestive ailments. There have been no scientific studies performed to prove or disprove these claims.
What Are the Health Benefits
- Clinical trial studies have shown that bilberry can protect eye health in many ways. It has been shown to improve blood circulation. A lack of proper blood circulation in the body can lead to many health problems including problems that effect good vision.
- There may be relief for some digest upsets and if drinking some bilberry tea helps there is little danger of negative side effects.
- Due to their high anti-oxident content, they may be taken as a supplement to improve overall good health as bilberry is known to have immune-boosting properties. Again, as long as the recommended dosage is not exceeded and you have checked with your physician, they should be safe to take.
* High dosages of bilberry leaf over long periods of time could possibly lower blood sugar to a level that is too low and could be dangerous. Make sure you monitor your sugar levels closely if you are diabetic.
* If you are pregnant or breast feeding it is wise to avoid using it as there is not enough conclusive human trial studies to prove it is safe to an unborn or breast feeding infant.
* If you are scheduled for surgery it is wise to avoid the use of bilberry for at least two weeks prior. Bilberry can interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery.
Food - there are no known food interactions.
Medications - there is a possibility of dangerous interactions used in combination with the following diabetes medications:
- Glimepiride (Amaryl)
- Glyburide (Diabeta, glynase PresTab, Micronase)
- Pioglitazone (Actos)
- Rosiglitazone (Avandia)
- Chlorpropamide (Diabinese)
- Glipizide (Glucotrol)
- Tolbutamide (Orinase) and possibly others
Also medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant/Antiplatelet Drugs)
- Clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam and others)
- Ibuprfen (Advil, Motrin and others)
- Naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn and others)
- Dalteparin (Fragmin)
- Enoxaparin (Lovenox)
- Heparin, Warfarin (Coumadin and others)
The above possible contraindications taken in conjunction with bilberry should be discussed with your personal doctor. Do not take any supplements without first speaking with a professional.
Bilberry contains chromium and too much chromium can cause chromium poisoning. If you take supplements containing chromium make sure you are not taking too high a dosage that could be lethal. Again, it is always best to consult your doctor or a professional.
Summary of Health Benefits of Bilberry
With regards to all of the recent studies along with passed down knowledge by word of mouth of the many healing properties of bilberry; it has surged in it's popularity and usage. Whether it is taken as a supplement, drank as a tea, or simply enjoyed as a delicious fruit, there is enough reason to believe there are healthful benefits to be had. However, as noted above, discuss any vitamins and supplements with your doctor first particularly if there could be contraindications with any prescription drugs you are taking.