Bilberry - Berry for Health
Bilberry is a shrub that belongs to the genus Vaccinium, family Ericaceae. It combines several low-growing shrubs which bear tasty fruits. Throughout the Europe, Asia and North America there are around 100 known bilberry species, all having similar names.
Bilberry is a perennial shrub, which reaches the height up to about 16 inches. It produces wiry angular brunches, oval, pointed leaves and small pink and white flowers. Bilberry dark blue berries ripen in the late summer and they are typically covered with the delicate grey bloom.
The preferred habitat for bilberries is one in high grounds with filtered shade and moist. It also grows well in damp, acidic and non calcareous soils throughout temperate and subarctic regions. Bilberries are often found in various climates, mostly in damp woodlands and moorlands.
Leaves and berries of the plant are used as the source for various preparations. Teas are usually made from the leaves, however they are often found in various extracts. The bilberry fruit may either be eaten fresh or dried for the extracts, too.
The berries are available in fresh forms, or dried - in teas. The leaves of bilberries are mainly found in tea forms and as the ingredients in various herbal preparations.
It has been proved by numerous researches that bilberry leaves are the source of number of the chemicals with beneficial properties for health. Glucoquinine, for example, is able to lower blood sugar levels; quinic acid is effective against rheumatism and gout, and other components in leaves produce astringent, tonic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic actions.
The effectiveness of bilberry fruit extracts is associated with the essential compounds called anthocyanins. These chemicals possess antioxidant properties, prevent capillary fragility, improve blood supply to the nervous system, thin the blood and lower the blood pressure.
Vitamins A and C in bilberry enhance human vision and help form collagen, which is essential for blood vessels and tissue cells growth. Tannins, other chemicals in bilberry fruit, act as astringent and possess anti-inflammatory properties.
Herbal medicine has known bilberry’s beneficial properties since Middle Ages. Applied topically or made into infusions, the herb has been used to handle a variety of conditions and to enhance health.
Dried bilberry fruit and bilberry tea have proved to be effective in treatment of diarrhea, and in relieving nausea and indigestion. It is also effective in handling inflammation of the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat.
The herb is said to improve night vision and to stop degenerative eye disorders. Variety of vascular and blood disorders is handled with bilberry, too. It shows positive actions in treating varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency, thrombosis, and angina.
Since bilberry leaves possess sugar-lowering properties, the herb has been used to control sugar levels in patients with diabetes. Some herbal preparations are also used for skin disorders. While taking bilberry, remember that it may be toxic if consumed in large amounts.
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