Over centuries bilberry has been used for its medicinal purposes. Similar to blueberries and cranberries, bilberry also contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. This fruit is used for its astringent, tonic, and antiseptic properties which can treat various health problems like diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids, and gastrointestinal inflammation. The most important use for bilberry has been the treatment of various eye disorders and improvement of capillary health.
Bilberry has been very effective in improving night vision. Being a close relative of blueberry, it contains high levels of natural antioxidant compounds. These antioxidants prevent free radicals from causing any damage to the eye. It also strengthens the small blood vessels that carry oxygen to the eyes.
Bilberry is high in flavonoids known as Anthocyanosides, which quickens the regeneration of Rhodopsin, a purple pigment used as rods in the eye for night vision. It is also useful in treating macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and cataract. One study has shown that a combination of bilberry extracts and vitamin E reduces the progression of cataracts.
Studies have shown that supplementation with bilberry improves eye adaptation to darkness for people with poor vision. It does not work with people having good vision though. Bilberry extracts are known to improve the functional ability of the eyes and other organs. It is also useful in treating bruising, general subcutaneous bleeding, and easing inflammation that occurs in osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gum disease.
Bilberry leaves can be used to treat diabetes due to their hypoglycemic properties. It can be used as a topical treatment in the form of infusion or decoctions, like tea or liquid extracts for eyes and mouth inflammation, skin infections, and burns. It is known to treat chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins, pain, itching, and skin ulcers in the legs. It may also prove to be effective in treating Raynaud’s disease.
It can be useful in treating atherosclerosis as it strengthens artery walls and promotes good circulation. Eating bilberry mixed with honey is a popular home remedy for diarrhea. It is also very effective in curing and treating peptic ulcers, fibrocystic breast disease, and painful menstruation. It is available in tincture as well as capsule form. And fresh bilberries are always there to be plucked.
To reduce cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems take 80-160 mg of standardized extract or 1/2 teaspoon liquid extract two or three times a day. For diabetic retinopathy take 80- 160 mg (standardized to 23-37% anthocyanosides) at least three times a day
To treat varicose veins consume 80-160 mg of standardized extract three times a day.
For sore throat and diarrhea make bilberry tea by pouring 1 cup hot water in 1 or 2 tablespoons of dried whole berries (or 2 to 3 teaspoons of finely crushed berries). Strain and drink at least 4 cups a day.
In some individuals consumption of bilberry internally may interfere with iron absorption. Lactating and pregnant women should avoid it, completely.