Herb Reference Guide

Bilberry

History

Bilberry is a perennial shrub native to Northern Europe, Northern America, and Canada. The plant produces a berry similar to the American Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), but the species myrtillus is more densely concentrated in the antioxidant pigments, and is a smaller fruit. There are other differences; bilberries have dark blue, strongly fragrant flesh, while American blueberries have white, mildly fragrant flesh; the bilberries grow as single fruit on low bushes, usually wild in woods of the Northern Hemisphere, but American blueberries grow in a large bush with several fruit at once; bilberries are generally wild plants while American blueberries can be cultivated. Both species have been used as both food and medicine traditionally throughout history.

Function

Since bilberries are more fragrant, and have more concentrated flavor and vitamins (like all more natural wild fruit varieties), they are especially well suited for making syrups and bilberry wine. Bilberry contains a group of antioxidants called anthocyanosides. Over 15 different anthocyanosides have been identified in Bilberry. The research on these constituents has focused on their potential ability to protect tissue integrity within the eyes from normal age-related oxidative stress and to promote healthy visual acuity. They are also well known to promote the health of capillaries and collagen structures. The use of this food to help support healthy circulation through the nutrient support they provide to the vascular system, veins and arteries is also well noted in the literature.

Uses of Bilberry

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Anthocyanosides (up to 25%) and Lutein

Parts Used

  • Berry

Important precautions

Not for use during pregnancy. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.

Additional Resources

Karlsen A, Paur I, Bøhn SK,et al. Bilberry juice modulates plasma concentration of NF-kappaB related inflammatory markers in subjects at increased risk of CVD. Eur J Nutr. 2010 Sep;49(6):345-55.

Koli R, Erlund I, Jula A, Marniemi J, Mattila P, Alfthan G. Bioavailability of
various polyphenols from a diet containing moderate amounts of berries. J Agric
Food Chem. 2010 Apr 14;58(7):3927-32. PubMed PMID: 20073463.

Kramer JH. Surv Ophthalmol. 2004
Nov-Dec;49(6):618; author reply 618. PubMed PMID: 15530951.