Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) medicinal uses and pictures
Bilberry is a small shrub that bears edible blue coloured fruit commonly known as bilberries. The berries are often confused with American blueberries due to their appearance. The fruits can be eaten fresh and used in making jam, juice, pies and crepes. They are used as flavours for many desserts. The healthy bilberries grow in the wild, and the berries must be handpicked. They are thought as super berries, in the Northern Europe. The perennial dwarf shrubs are rhizomatous. The shrub grows only up to 4–15 inches. The stems are erect, branched and woody. The flowers are pitcher-shaped, greenish and reddish. They are very tiny, only about 4–6 mm. The leaves are alternate and short-stalked. The berries are spherical, shiny dark blue in colour, only about 6– 8 mm in length. The shrubs mainly grow in the Grove- like forest, swamps, dry forest heaths and moors. The flowering time is May to July.
Bilberry has many names like Blue whortleberry, Blaeberry, Huckleberry, Hurtleberry, Winberry and fraughan. Other names include Whinberry, Windberry, Myrtle blueberry, and Wimberry.
Botanical name and family
Botanical name – Vaccinium myrtillus
Geological area where Huckleberry grows
Huckleberry is native to Europe. It is widely grown in British Isles, Northern Asia, Western Canada, Greenland, and the Western United States. It grows wildly in acidic soil. The bilberry has been consumed for many years. Today, its use has spread to Asia, especially India. Wild bilberries are mostly seen in the Northern Hemisphere.
Medicinal use of Bilberry
Bilberry has been used for medicinal benefits from 1,000 years in Europe. Huckleberry contains anthocyanins, delphinidin and cyanidin glycosides. It has high Vitamin C and Vitamin E content. Huckleberry has been in use of several folklores and conventional medicines.
Here are some of the benefits of bilberry –
- Austrians used bilberry for the treatment of gastrointestinal tract disorders and diabetes treatment at home.
- Bilberry supplements are used to prevent and cure circulatory problems and diarrhea treatment.
- Bilberry leaf has been used to cure high blood pressure and diabetes.
- It is used to treat kidney stones and Typhoid fever.
- Huckleberry is effective in curing problems of eyes and retina.
- Huckleberry can also improve the night blindness condition. During World War II, the British pilots used to eat large amounts of Bilberry jam before a flight to improve their night vision. Modern researches have supported these claims.
- It also prevents macular degeneration, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy.
- It improves blood circulation avoiding stroke, angina, and atherosclerosis.
- The bilberry can improve varicose veins.
- Huckleberry contains anthocyanosides, the antioxidants that can strengthen blood vessels and capillary walls.
- They can also improve red blood cells count and stabilize collagen tissues like tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
- Huckleberry has cholesterol lowering effects on the body.
- It helps to preserve the elasticity of red blood cells, which allows them to pass through the capillaries to supply sufficient oxygen.
- It is a vasodilator that can open up blood vessels and lower the blood pressure.
Using medicines from bilberry during pregnancy or breastfeeding is not recommended. One must take the opinion of an Ayurvedic medicinal professional before such consumption.