|Other:||Bilberry (Europe), huckleberry & blueberry (North America )|
Bilberry grows in Northern Europe. Like the North American blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium), their edible berries contain antioxidants including anthocyanins. The main difference between the two species is bilberries contain roughly 5 times the condensed tannins than blueberries making them more astringent. Traditionally, strong decoctions of the dried fruit treat diarrhea and dysentery. Furthermore, their gentle action makes them suitable treatment for children's diarrhea. Research shows they possess antibacterial and also antiparasitic activity against giardia the cause diarrhea. Animal studies suggest that bilberries may also improve colitis.
Bilberries appear to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, decrease inflammation, and improve blood sugars. Bilberries may thus have the potential to reduce diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Historically bilberry was used for eye conditions, and preliminary research suggests it prevents macular degeneration.
The fresh fruit can be used to prevent degenerative diseases; the dried berries can be used specifically for diarrhea.
• diarrhea, particularly with children (dried fruit)†
• constipation, sluggish bowels (fresh berries)
• prevents lower urinary tract infections
• may prevent stroke and cardiovascular disease (berries)
• reduced vascular tone (berries)
• atherosclerosis (berries)
• capillary fragility
• hemorrhoids (also post-hemorrhoidectomy)
• varicose veins
• venous insufficiency
• retinopathy (berries)
• macular degeneration
• impaired night vision
• colorectal cancer
• breast cancer
† Note: bilberries as several times more astringent than north american blueberries and thus is better suited for diarrhea.
• Dried: 20-60 g/day (~1/4 cup)
• Fresh: 15 g of berry
Note: the dried berries are indicated for diarrhea, not the fresh berries.
Long-term use: Berries are safe. Leaves are generally safe but long-term use safety has not yet been established.
- Anti-coagulant therapy • monitor patients with concomitant use.
- Iron supplements • may reduce the absorption of non-heme iron. Take iron supplements a few hours apart.
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