What is Bilberry?
Other names: Vaccinium myrtillus, European blueberry, huckleberry, whortleberry, burren myrtle
Bilberry fruit is a close relative to the American blueberry. It's a common ingredient in pies, cakes and jams. The active constituents are thought to be antioxidants called anthocyanins.
Why Do People Use Bilberry
Bilberry is primarily used for eye conditions and to strengthen blood vessels. During World War II, British Royal Air Force pilots reportedly found that eating bilberry jam just before a mission improved their night vision which prompted researchers to investigate bilberry's properties.
Bilberry is also used for glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts.
The anthocyanins in bilberry may strengthen the walls of blood vessels, reduce inflammation and stabilize tissues containing collagen, such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Grape seed contains similar substances, however, bilberry's anthocyanins are thought to have particular benefits for the eye.
Because bilberry is thought to strengthen blood vessels, it's sometimes taken orally for varicose veins and hemorrhoids.