Health benefits of Bilberry

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Health benefits of Bilberry

Bilberry Quick Facts
Name: Bilberry
Scientific Name: Vaccinium myrtillus
Origin Northern and Central Europe
Colors Dark in color with a slight shade of purple
Shapes Coarsely wrinkled small berries (5–9 mm in diameter), globular, with a flat top, about the size of a black currant
Flesh colors Dark red, strongly fragrant flesh
Taste Sweet, with a slight tart and acidic quality
Calories 44 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Manganese (143.48%)
Vitamin C (48.89%)
Copper (12.22%)
Iron (10.00%)
Carbohydrate (8.85%)
Health benefits Protection against liver damage, Chronic venous insufficiency, Diabetes, Atherosclerosis, Protection against kidney failure, Prevention of cancer, Diarrhea and wounds, Lower the Risks of Alzheimer’s Disease, Cardio-protective effects, Improve Bad Cholesterol, Helps against Urinary Tract Infections, Protection against eye disorders,Digestive health, Helps protect the Skin, Acts as a Natural Cosmetic Ingredient, Improve women’s health
Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) is a member of the Ericaceae family, and is also known as European blueberry, huckleberry, whortleberry, blueberry and bearberry. It is a European berry shrub that is native to Northern and Central Europe. The name bilberry is actually derived from the Danish ‘bollebar,’ which means dark berry in reference to the typically dark-blue fruit. It is a small, wild perennial shrub that grows throughout Europe and now is cultivated from the Far East to the United States. The plant yield huge amount of small darkish blue berries that have wonderful medicinal uses. They are often consumed fresh or made into jams and preserves. Leaves are used medicinally as well, but to a lesser amount than the berries. The qualities of the herb are sour, astringent, cold, and drying.

While Bilberry is a popular element in many European desserts such as pies, crepes, tarts, and jams, as well as being a tasty fruit that can be eaten fresh or as a juice, it turns out that it also has a number of beneficial chemicals which make it a great natural remedy. Some of these chemicals include tannins, flavonoids and anthocyanosides. Fruit and leaves (both fresh and dried) have been used in different types of herbal medicines for centuries.

Descriptions

Bilberry is a fruit that is native to Europe and is very similar in color and size to the Blueberry. It is a low-growing perennial shrub growing up to 4 to 16 inches in height and 12 inches in width. The plant grows wild in forests and meadows and on heath land and moors and requires a moist but freely-draining lime free soil, preferring one that is rich in peat or a light loamy soil with added leaf-mould. The plant has numerous green, triangular erect stems and sharp-edged, green branches.

Leaves 

Bilberry leaves have short stalks that wither during winter. They are are ovate or obovate with rounded tips and are alternately arranged on the branches.These are bright-green in color and have a tapered shape. The leaves feel leathery when touched. They are rosy during the initial days, then turn yellowish-green and turn red in autumn with a very ornamental design. These leaves are used to adulterate tea. 

Flower

The flowers of Bilberry plant usually come out during May-July. They are generally pitcher shaped and reddish, yellowish or greenish in appearance or a combination of all three colors. It has a very shallow five-lobed calyx, four or eight stamens and a single carpel. The flowers grow as solitary on axils and are about 4-6 cm long. The plant flowers in early spring just as its leaves are spreading out.

Fruit

The fruit is globular, with a flat top, about the size of a black currant. They are small berries about 5–9 mm in diameter. Bilberries are dark in color, and usually appear near black with a slight shade of purple.  Flesh is dark red colored and is strongly fragrant.  The fruit has slightly acid flavor and sweet taste with a slight tart and acidic quality. When eaten raw, they have a slightly acid flavor. When cooked, however, with sugar, they make an excellent preserve. The fruits can be consumed fresh or made into jams, fools, juices or pies. In France and Italy they are used as a base for liqueurs and are a popular flavoring for sorbets and other desserts.

Health benefits of Bilberry

Most parts of the bilberry plant, such as the leaves and the dried or ripe fruit are utilized in the preparation of herbal medicines. Usefulness of bilberry in curing a range of diseases has been discussed as below:

1. Protection against liver damage

Bilberry exerts defensive effect against restraint stress stimulated liver damage owing to the presence of antioxidants. Scientific research has shown the inhibitory and radical scavenging activity of bilberry extracts, which increases the level of beneficial glutathione and vitamin C in the body and decreases the concentration of nitric oxide in the liver tissues.(1)

2. Chronic venous insufficiency

In Europe, health care professionals use bilberry extracts to treat this condition, which occurs when valves in veins in the legs that carry blood to the heart are damaged. Research has reported improvements in symptoms, but most were poorly designed.

3. Diabetes

Bilberry leaves have been used traditionally to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Research shows that all berries help reduce the body’s glucose response after eating a high sugar meal. Research suggests that bilberry may be effective for managing blood sugar levels, mainly when combined with oatmeal. More research is needed. At this time, bilberry is not recommended to help manage diabetes.

4. Atherosclerosis

Research show that anthocyanosides present in bilberry may strengthen blood vessels, improve circulation, and prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, a major risk factor for atherosclerosis (plaque that blocks blood vessels, leading to heart attack and stroke). More research is needed.

5. Protection against kidney failure

Scientific research has shown that bilberry extracts help in normalizing multiple critical factors including levels of creatinine, serum blood urea nitrogen and nitric oxide.  This inhibitory action is again due to the antioxidant profile of bilberry, which boosts the oxygen radical absorbance capacity in the kidney tissues and protects it from oxidative damage.(2)

6. Prevention of cancer

Bilberry extracts are effective against the development of various cancers including colon cancer, breast cancer and leukemia.  Research conducted on different berries has rendered bilberry to be the most powerful in inhibition of cancerous cells. This owes to the presence of phenolic components delphinidin and glycosides in bilberry, which prevent the propagation of malignant cells and induces apoptosis.(3), (4)

7. Diarrhea and wounds

Bilberry has been used in European medicine since one thousand years, mainly to treat diarrhea. The fruit consists of tannins, substances that act as both an anti-inflammatory and an astringent. Bilberry is supposed to help people with diarrhea by reducing intestinal inflammation. No research, however, have analyzed bilberry’s use for diarrhea.

8. Lower the Risks of Alzheimer’s Disease

Evidence suggests that fruit and vegetable juices containing various phenolic compounds can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In some cases, symptoms of Alzheimer’s was considerably decreased upon treatment with myricetin, quercetin or anthocyanin-rich extracts found in bilberry and showed that behavioral abnormalities may have been alleviated.(5), (6)

9. Cardio-protective effects

Bilberry is effective in maintaining cardiovascular health which is one of the main causes of death all around the world. This heart protective effect is attributed to the potential of anthocyanins present in bilberry, which helps in improving the LDL and HDL cholesterol levels in the body. Research has also authorized the positive effects of its fruit on the blood pressure and vascular health leading to the inhibition of platelet aggregation and smooth muscle contraction. Another research has recommended the anti-ischemic and anti-arrhythmic activity of bilberry on the heart which helps stimulate the coronary flow and is instrumental in preventing multiple cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.(7), (8)

10. Improve Bad Cholesterol

Anthocyanosides found in bilberries helps to strengthen blood vessels and prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, a major risk factor for atherosclerosis that is the plaque that blocks blood vessels leading to heart attack and stroke.

Research reported that bilberry enrichment, when compared to black currants, reduced total and LDL-cholesterol levels. In fact, the total anthocyanin content was four times greater in bilberries than in black currants, perhaps making it a better choice for reducing LDL cholesterol levels.(9)

11. Helps against Urinary Tract Infections

Bilberry extract might be utilized to assist treat UTIs, too, because of the fact that it’s a close cousin towards the cranberry (that also aids in UTIs).

12. Protection against eye disorders

Bilberry is useful for the maintenance of eye health. Apart from the traditional usage, research has also encouraged the effectiveness of bilberry extract in preventing age-related ocular disorders along with other eye diseases such as cataract and night-blindness. Powerful radical scavengers present in it helps enhance the vision and may be beneficial for the restoration and homeostasis of corneal limbal epithelial cells. Another research conducted on bilberry has also recommended its beneficial enzyme stimulating activity which protects the eyes from endotoxin-induced uvenitis. Its extracts stimulate the production of rhodopsin pigment which supports the eye to adapt to light changes.(10), (11), (12)

13. Digestive health

Bilberry has been used to cure stomach disorders such as diarrhea, indigestion and nausea. This is due to the astringent action of tannins and pectin present in bilberry, which exerts therapeutic effect on the stomach inflammations and also heals inflammation caused in the mucous membranes of throat and mouth when applied topically.

14. Helps protect the Skin

Bilberry has additionally been utilized as cure for numerous skin conditions, just like skin ulcers as well as varicose veins. Simply because frequently ingesting bilberry assists enhance the circulation of blood, it has also been utilized to fight venous deficit, which in turn causes particular skin difficulties.

15. Acts as a Natural Cosmetic Ingredient

The extract of the bilberry fruits and leaves is a well-liked component utilized for cosmetics. Bilberry extract acts as a skin-conditioning agent that can help nurture the skin as well as boosts its strength. The most typical cosmetic uses which contain natural bilberry extract consist of makeup, facial creams, as well as lotions.

16. Improve women’s health

Bilberry is considered to avoid and lower menstrual cramps in females. Together with that, the normal usages of bilberry assist deal with ulcers and stop fibrocystic breast disease.

Ayurvedic benefits of Bilberry

  • Varicose veins could be reduced by utilizing bilberry herb by reduction of swelling as well as improving circulation. The advantages of bilberry consist of promoting a healthy blood circulation as well as avoiding blood clots, which a number of clinical tests support.
  • Bilberry has always been a folk treatment for conditioning the eyes that is supported by numerous scientific tests. A bilberry herb supports the blood vessels within the eyes and keeps the eye muscles robust as well as working effectively. This will assist to avoid cataracts as well as diminishing vision. World War II pilots used to consume bilberry jam to enhance their night vision.
  • Bilberry may reduce pain and irritation as well as assist to cure ulcers.
  • Reynaud’s disease symptoms could be reduced by means of bilberry a supplement that enhances blood circulation. Reynaud’s disease leads to the limbs to feel incredibly cold, as well as improved circulation may help to fight this.
  • Diabetes could be assisted by bilberry, which could reduce blood glucose levels.
  • Menstruation cramps could be reduced along with bilberry herb, as it can certainly enhance the flow of blood.
  • Digestive problems for example diarrhea could be reduced by the astringent properties of the bilberry fruit.
  • Removes toxins from your system, safeguarding cells as well as conditioning the body versus illness, and also the anti-oxidants in bilberry are believed to operate particularly on the blood cells.
  • Bilberry herb’s antioxidants will help keep blood pressure level down.
  • It may be used to deal with mouth ulcers as well as gum swelling. Consuming bilberry tea is additionally considered to assist heal hemorrhoids.
  • Bilberry supplements are available in numerous forms. The herb could be used fresh, in tablet form, like a tea, or even bilberry extract form.
  • Bilberry extract is really a concentrate of the fruit, that is loaded with flavonoids and it has all of the qualities of the fruit.
  • Bilberry tea is an infusion of the leaves or even fruit in warm water. An herbal tea is an easier way of administering a natural supplement. A cooled bilberry tea can be used like a mouthwash to take benefit of the herb’s anti-bacterial qualities. The tea could be drunk both cold and hot.
  • Dried leaves of bilberries are used in the treatment of a variety of complaints.
  • A tea made from the dried leaves is strongly astringent, diuretic, tonic and an antiseptic for the urinary tract.
  • It is also a remedy for diabetes if taken for a prolonged period.
  • Leaves contain glucoquinones, which reduce the levels of sugar in the blood.
  • Decoction of the leaves or bark is applied locally in the treatment of ulcers and in ulceration of the mouth and throat.
  • Distilled water made from the leaves is an excellent eyewash for soothing inflamed or sore eyes.
  • Fresh fruit has a slightly laxative effect and is commonly used in the treatment of diarrhea etc.
  • The dried fruit is also antibacterial and a decoction is useful for treating diarrhea in children.
  • Skin of the fruits contains anthocyanin and is specific in the treatment of hemeralopia.
  • The fruit is a rich source of anthocyanosides, which have been shown experimentally to dilate the blood vessels, this makes it a potentially valuable treatment for varicose veins, hemorrhoids and capillary fragility.
  • It is used in traditional medicine to treat eye disorders and support vision health.
  • Dried bilberry tea is used internally to treat nonspecific diarrhea.
  • A decoction of the leaves or bark of the root may be used as a local application to ulcers, and in ulceration of the mouth and throat.
  • Fruit is helpful in scurvy and urinary complaints.
  • Syrup made of fresh bilberries and honey was used in treatment of diarrhea during the 16th century in Europe.
  • Berries were also used in treatment of scurvy, infections and kidney stones.

History

Bilberry bush is a relative of the blueberry and is native to many areas, including the Rocky Mountains and regions of Europe and Asia. Its berries and leaves have been used for medicinal purposes since the Middle Ages for a variety of conditions, including diarrhea, scurvy, infections, burns, and diabetes. During World War II, British pilots ate bilberry jam, thinking it would improve their night vision.

Today, bilberry is used as a dietary supplement for cardiovascular conditions, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, eye problems, diabetes, and other conditions. Bilberry extract is sold in tablets, capsules, and drops, and the berries are sold dried and as a powder. The leaves are made into teas.

Types of Bilberry

Bilberries consist of many strongly associated varieties of the Vaccinium genus, which includes:

  1. Vaccinium myrtillus L. (bilberry)
  2. Vaccinium uliginosum L. (bog bilberry, bog blueberry, bog whortleberry, bog huckleberry, northern bilberry, ground hurts)
  3. Vaccinium caespitosum Michx. (dwarf bilberry)
  4. Vaccinium deliciosum Piper (cascade bilberry)
  5. Vaccinium membranaceum (mountain bilberry, black mountain huckleberry, black huckleberry, twin-leaved huckleberry)
  6. Vaccinium ovalifolium (oval-leafed blueberry, oval-leaved bilberry, mountain blueberry, high-bush blueberry).

1. Vaccinium myrtillus L. (bilberry)

Vaccinium myrtillusVaccinium myrtillus is actually a variety of shrub along with delicious fruit of blue color, frequently known as “bilberry”, “whortleberry” or even “European blueberry”. It’s got much in common with the American blueberry (Vaccinium cyanococcus). It really is much more specifically known as Common Bilberry or even Blue Whortleberry, to differentiate it from other Vaccinium relatives. Local titles include blaeberry, hurtleberry, Huckleberry, winberry and fraughan.

2. Vaccinium uliginosum L.

Vaccinium uliginosum L.Vaccinium uliginosum is indigenous to cool temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere, at low altitudes within the Arctic, and also at high altitudes south towards the Pyrenees, the Alps, and the Caucasus in Europe, the mountains of Mongolia, northern China and central Japan in Asia, and the Sierra Nevada in California and the Rocky Mountains in Utah in North America.

It will grow on moist acidic soils on heathland, moorland, tundra, as well as in the understory of coniferous forests, from sea level in the Arctic, approximately 3,400 meters (11,200 ft.) altitude in the south of the range. It is just a tiny deciduous shrub expanding to  cm 10-75 centimeters (0.33-2.46 ft.) tall, hardly ever 1 meter (3.3 ft.) tall, along with brown stems (unlike the green stems of the closely associated Bilberry). The foliage is oval, 4-30 millimeters (0.16-1.2 in) long as well as 2-15 millimeters (0.079-0.59 in) wide, blue-green with pale net-like veins, having a smooth margin as well as curved apex.

The flowers usually are pendulous, urn-shaped, pale pink, 4-6 mm long, created in mid spring. The fruit is really a dark blue-black berry 5-8 millimeters (0.20-0.31 in) diameter, having a white flesh, delicious as well as sweet whenever ripe at the end of summer.

3. Vaccinium cespitosum

Vaccinium cespitosumVaccinium cespitosum, (also, caespitosum), the dwarf bilberry, is really a varieties of flowering shrub within the genus Vaccinium, which include blueberries, huckleberries, and cranberries. It’s really a low-lying plant rarely attaining half a meter (1.5 feet) tall that forms a carpet like stand in rocky mountainous meadows. The dwarf bilberry leaves is reddish-green to green and also the flowers usually are small urn-shaped light pink cups less than a centimeter broad. The fruits usually are delicious blue bilberries.

4. Vaccinium deliciosum

Vaccinium deliciosumVaccinium deliciosum is often types of bilberry known by the typical titles Cascade bilberry, Cascade blueberry, and blue leaf huckleberry. It develops at heights of 600-2,000 meters (2,000-6,600 ft.) in subalpine as well as alpine environments. Its habitat consists of coniferous forests as well as meadows. It’s really a rhizomatous shrub having a clumpy, tangled form, its tangling stem rooting where its nodes touch moist substrate. It might form extensive colonies. The new green twigs are generally hairless as well as wax-like. The deciduous foliage is alternately organized. The thin oval leaf blades are approximately 5 centimeters long. The edges are mainly smooth yet might be serrated close to the ends.

5. Vaccinium membranaceum

Vaccinium membranaceumVaccinium membranaceum is really a variety in the group of Vaccinium typically called huckleberry. This specific varieties is famous by the typical titles thin leaf huckleberry, tall huckleberry, big huckleberry, mountain huckleberry, square-twig blueberry, and (ambiguously) as “black huckleberry”.

It develops at higher elevations in subalpine as well as alpine environments. It takes place both in pine as well as spruce centered forests as well as in open meadow ecosystems. In forests V. membranaceum frequently dominates the forest understory throughout early to mid-stages of succession. Vaccinium membranaceum is fire adapted. The leaves and stems of the huckleberry are resistant against low-intensity fires, and when burned away they’ll resprout intensely from rhizomes hidden underneath the soil

6. Vaccinium ovalifolium

Vaccinium ovalifoliumVaccinium ovalifolium (popularly known as Alaska blueberry, early blueberry, oval-leaf bilberry, oval-leaf blueberry, and oval-leaf huckleberry) is really a plant within the heath family having three types, all of these develop in northerly regions, like the subarctic

It is a distributing shrub which might grow to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall. It’s got pink 1/4 in (0.64 cm) urn-shaped flowers. 

How to Buy Bilberries

When you shop for bilberries, ensure that they aren’t excessively ripe and they also have got a snug, smooth skin.

Prevent purchasing bumpy or even moldy pieces, since these won’t flavor very well and can decay on the quicker rate when compared with fresh, healthy bilberries.

Bilberries Storage Tips

Bilberries could be kept for very long times by freezing. To do this, all that you should do is clean all of them with gentle hands within cold water and also pat them dry. Put them inside a cookie tray and place them to the freezer. As soon as they are frozen, transfer them straight into an air-tight pot with no delay and also store them within the freezer. If you don’t wish to store them for a long period, you are able to immediately put them in the jar and cover all of them with a plastic wrap. However, prevent cleaning them as added moisture may cause them to rot more rapidly.

Dosage

Recommended dosages of bilberry depend on what form of the fruit is being consumed. If consuming fresh berries, 55-115 grams three times daily is recommended. Most bilberry is in the form of aqueous extract standardized to 25-percent anthocyanosides at a dose of 80-160 mg three times daily. The actual dosage of anthocyanosides is 20-40 mg three times daily.

Different Uses of Bilberry

Historically, bilberry has been used for various purposes. In the medieval ages, consuming bilberry was supposed to help treat diarrhea. In Scotland and Ireland, it was used to dye wool, linen and paper. Nowadays, bilberry is mainly added to numerous dishes. The best known preparations include:

  • Raw: Bilberry can be simply eaten raw for a quick snack.
  • Tea: Bilberry can be enjoyed as a warm cup of tea.
  • Pie: You can create a delicious pie by using bilberries as the filling.
  • Juice: The berries can be turned into a juice that you can enjoy any time of the day.
  • Jam: Simply boil the berries in water and a natural sweetener to make a delicious jam that you add to your favorite foods.

How to Make Bilberry Tea

Bilberry is traditionally eaten raw, but this may not be palatable to your taste. If you want to try bilberry, you can make tea out of it, allowing you to obtain its health benefits easily. Another advantage of making your own tea is that the ingredients are fresh, so you can be sure that it does not contain preservatives and toxins that manufacturers usually use.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 3 Tbsp. of crushed dried bilberries, depending on your preference
  • 1 cup of water

Procedure:

  • Place the dried bilberries in your cup.
  • Boil the water, and then pour it into the cup as well.
  • Steep the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy.

Note: If you don’t want bilberry chunks in your tea, you can boil them, and then strain the liquid afterwards.

Bilberry Side Effects

1. Toxicity

Bilberry extract doesn’t have any recognized unwanted effects, depending on the University of Michigan Health System, when ingested in safe amounts. Nevertheless, using an excessive amount the extract for the extended period of time might be dangerous, alerts the University of Maryland Clinic. The tannins in bilberry may possibly produce weight-loss, muscle spasms, and in addition possibly even loss of life.

2. Anti-coagulant Effect

In theory, the anthocyanosides within supplements from bilberry may possibly alter how quickly blood clots. The UMMC declares that you need to talk about things together with your doctor just before utilizing bilberry supplements along with blood thinning drugs just like warfarin or even aspirin. It could also increase your own chance of bleeding in case you have hemophilia or even a similar clotting problem, warns the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

3. Lowered Blood Sugar Levels

Extract from the bilberry plant can help to eliminate blood sugar levels, according to Medline Plus. A person susceptible to hypoglycemia needs to be cautious about making use of bilberry extract. In addition, diabetics which are taking drugs, as an example metformin or insulin, to handle blood sugar levels, or even which are taking herbs because of this specific reason, must track their blood sugar levels much more carefully whenever use bilberry extract.

* In case you are pregnant or even breastfeeding it is advisable to prevent utilizing it since there is insufficient definitive human trial research to show it is risk-free to the unborn or even breastfeeding child.

* In case you are appointed for surgery it is advisable to prevent the usage of bilberry for a minimum of two weeks prior. Bilberry can hinder blood sugar levels control throughout and after surgical treatment.

Please speak with your medical doctor before you decide to use bilberry to cope with your wellbeing issues.

Bilberry Facts 

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a European berry shrub that is related to the blueberry, huckleberry, and bearberry plants that grow in the United States. The name Bilberry (by some old writers ‘Bulberry’) is derived from the Danish ‘bollebar,’ meaning dark berry.  Bilberry is a small, wild, perennial shrub that grows throughout Europe and is now cultivated from the Far East to the United States. The shrub yields large amounts of small, darkish blue berries. Besides their medicinal use, they are often eaten fresh or made into jams and preserves. The leaves of the plant are used medicinally as well, but to a lesser extent than the berries. The qualities of the herb are sour, astringent, cold, and drying.

Name Bilberry
Scientific Name Vaccinium myrtillus
Native Northern and Central Europe
Common Names Bilberry, Whortleberry, Whiniberry, Huckleberry, Dwarf bilberry
European blueberry; Bog bilberry, Chinese blueberry, bog berry, blåbär, Heidelbeere, petit myrte
Name in Other Languages Chinese: Hēi guǒ yuè jú (黑果越桔), Hei guo yue jie,  Ou zhou yue ju (欧洲越橘 ),  Shān sāngzi (山桑子)
Danish: Blåbær
Dutch: Blauwe bosbes, blauwe bosbes,
English: European blueberry, bilberry, blueberry, dwarf bilberry, myrtle blueberry, myrtle whortleberry, whinberry, whortleberry, dwarf whortleberry, low bilberry, Blaeberry, Burren myrtle,  Dyeberry, False huckleberry, Hurtleberry, Wineberry,
French: Myrtille commune, myrtille, Airelle noire,  Ambreselle, Brimbelle, Maurettes, Myrtille vraie, Raisin des bois.
Finnish: Mustikka
German: Blaubeere, Heidelbeere, Heidelbeere,  Bickbeere, Schwarzbeere
Hindi: Neelabadari
Italian: Mirtillo
Japanese: Biruberii (ビルベリー), aojiku-sunoki, hime-usunoki
Norway: Blåbær, Myrtille
Portuguese: Mirtilo, uva-do-monte
Russian: Chernika mirtolistnaya  (Черника миртолистная)
Spanish: Arándano, Ráspano, Mirtillo
Swedish: Blauwe bosbes, blåbär, mustikka
Tamil: Avurinelli
Telegu: Korindapalu
Plant Growth Habit Low-growing perennial shrub
Growing Climate Grows wild in forests and meadows and on heath land and moors.
Soil Requires a moist but freely-draining lime free soil, preferring one that is rich in peat or a light loamy soil with added leaf-mould.
Plant Size 4 to 16 inches in height and 12 inches in width
Stem Numerous green, triangular erect stems
Branches Sharp-edged, green branches
Leaf Ovate or obovate leaves with rounded tips. They are green colored and alternately arranged on the branches.
Flower Urn-shaped flowers are pale pink or reddish. Flowers contain both types of reproductive organs (bisexual).
Fruit Shape & Size Coarsely wrinkled small berries (5–9 mm in diameter), globular, with a flat top, about the size of a black currant.
Fruit Color Dark in color with a slight shade of purple.
Flesh Color Dark red, strongly fragrant flesh
Flavor/Aroma Slightly acid flavor
Taste Sweet, with a slight tart and acidic quality
Seed Many small, shiny brownish-red seeds.
Plant Parts Used Ripe fruit, leaves
Varieties
  • Vaccinium ovalifolium
  • Vaccinium membranaceum
  • Vaccinium deliciosum
  • Vaccinium cespitosum
  • Vaccinium uliginosum L.
  • Vaccinium myrtillus L. (bilberry)
Lifespan 2 years
Major Nutrition Manganese, Mn 3.3 mg (143.48%)
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) 44 mg (48.89%)
Copper, Cu 0.11 mg (12.22%)
Iron, Fe 0.8 mg (10.00%)
Carbohydrate 11.5 g (8.85%)
Total dietary Fiber 2.8 g (7.37%)
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) 0.06 mg (4.62%)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 0.583 mg (3.64%)
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) 0.16 mg (3.20%)
Chromium 1 µg (2.86%)
Calories in (100 g.) 44 K cal
Health Benefits
  • Protection against liver damage
  • Chronic venous insufficiency
  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Protection against kidney failure
  • Prevention of cancer
  • Diarrhea and wounds
  • Lower the Risks of Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cardio-protective effects
  • Improve Bad Cholesterol
  • Helps against Urinary Tract Infections
  • Protection against eye disorders
  • Digestive health
  • Helps protect the Skin
  • Acts as a Natural Cosmetic Ingredient
  • Improve women’s health
Culinary Uses
  • Small seeds make them suitable for jam.
  • The fruit can be dried and used like currants.
  • A tea is made from the leaves.
  • Bilberry fruit is commonly used for the same purposes as the American blueberry: pies, cakes, jams, muffins, cookies, sauces, syrups, juices, candies and so on.
  • In France and Italy they are used as a base for liqueurs and are a popular flavoring for sorbets and other desserts.
  • In Brittany they are often used as a flavoring for crêpes, and in the Vosges and the Massif Central bilberry tart (tarte aux myrtilles) is a traditional dessert.
  • In Romania they are used as a base for a liqueur called afinată.
  • They are used in the manufacture of liqueurs and to improve aroma of sorbets.
Other Facts
  • A green dye is obtained from the leaves and the fruit and is used to color fabrics.
  • A blue or black dye is obtained from the fruit; this can be used as an ink.
  • Bilberry fruit will stain hands, teeth and tongue deep blue or purple while eating.
  • Juice obtained from bilberries is used as edible ink for staining the meat.
  • Bilberry is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species.
Precautions
  • Bilberry fruit should not be confused with bilberry leaf, which may lower blood sugar levels.
  • If you use warfarin or other blood thinners: Bilberry may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • If you use aspirin or aspirin products: Bilberry may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • If you use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Bilberry may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Intake of large quantities of the fresh berries can cause loose stools.
  • Bilberry may cause gastrointestinal upset, dizziness or headaches, but such reports are rare.
  • Bilberry leaves shouldn’t be taken in large doses or over long periods of time because they are toxic.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=23605#null

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/2888/

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=41040

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Vaccinium+myrtillus

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/bilberry-fruit

http://www.floracatalana.net/vaccinium-myrtillus-l

http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/bilberry

https://www.drugs.com/npp/bilberry.html

http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/bilber37.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccinium_myrtillus

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilberry

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/bilberry

https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/bilberry-herb.html

http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/6/5/500.pdf

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=VAMY2

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