The European bilberry bush is a close relative of American blueberries, cranberries, and huckleberries. The berry is creamy white instead of purple, but it is used, like blueberries, in the preparation of cakes, cobblers, jams, juices, and pies.
The bilberry has a long history of medicinal use. Hildegard of Bingen wrote 900 years ago to recommend the use of bilberries to treat amenorrhea. Renaissance physicians used bilberries to treat conditions ranging from kidney stones to typhoid fever.
The best known application of the herb in modern medicine, however, arose during World War II. British Royal Air Force Pilots reported that a dollop of bilberry jam just before a mission improved their night vision, sometimes dramatically.
After the successful use of bilberry jam in World War II, researchers determined that bilberry fruit and bilberry leaf contain biologically active substances called anthocyanosides. Scientists believe that these chemicals may strengthen the walls of the blood vessels in the eye and benefit the retina, reduce inflammation, and stabilize tissues containing cartilage, such as ligaments and tendons. The herb is also used to treat a variety of conditions that benefit from arterial support, including bruising, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.
The effect of bilberry on night vision is most consistent in people who have poor night vision. The herb probably will not improve night vision in people who already have good night vision.
For best results, take bilberry on a regular basis, but also use blueberries, cranberries, elderberries, raspberries, and strawberries to support cardiovascular and retinal health.
For educational purposes only
This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.