|Bilberry is a member of the genus Vaccinium, comprised of nearly 200
species of berries that include cranberry, cowberry and American
blueberry. Bilberry differs from the American blueberry in that its meat is
dark purple, whereas the American version is of cream color. Of course,
bilberries have been utilized for hundreds of years as food and for their
high nutritive value. It has also been used as a folk medicinal treatment
for disorders of the urinary system, including urinary infections and
kidney stones, and for diarrhea and dysentery.
In Europe, bilberry extracts are now part of the conventional medical
treatment of various eye disorders, including cataracts, macular
degeneration, night blindness, diabetic retinopathy and retinitis
pigmentosa. These uses have been backed by the release of various
current studies. The substance that gives bilberries its pharmacological
activity is its anthocyanosides.
Anthocyanosides possess potent antioxidant properties, can increase
intracellular vitamin C levels and decrease capillary permeability and
One of the anthocyanosides most important actions is to normalize
collagen structures, which ultimately leads to bilberry's apparent ability
to prevent and reverse visual and vascular disorders.
Other uses of bilberry have been documented, and are worth noting.
These include blood sugar control, cholesterol reduction, the relaxation
of smooth muscle, and the ability to prevent and reduce the severity of