RESEARCH SUMMARY – Bilberry (Vaccinium Myrtillus)
Bilberry has been valued for centuries as a nutritious food and a wild edible delicacy. The berries, best known as an edible fruit, are an ancient food in northern Europe.
In European herbal remedies, bilberry fruit preparations are now used to enhance poor micro-circulation, including eye conditions such as night-blindness and diabetic retinopathy.
In France, bilberries have been prescribed since 1945 for diabetic patients, a major cause of blindness in diabetics.
In an Italian study, bilberry's flavonoids lowered cholesterol levels in the blood and improved circulation.
In animal studies, bilberry reduced and stabilized blood sugar levels.
Bilberries are high in flavonoids, which have antioxidant and disease-fighting properties and they help cells in the body resist and repair damage.
The flavonoids found in bilberry provide the blue color of the berry. The bilberry flavonoids are called anthocyanosides, which were found to be the main active ingredients.
Bilberry flavonoids can increase certain enzymes and substances in the eyes that are crucial to good vision and eye function. Furthermore, anthocyanosides can increase circulation in the blood vessels in the eyes, and help these blood vessels repair and protect themselves. Specifically, research has shown that anthocyanosides help stabilize and protect a protein called collagen, which is a basic building block of veins, arteries, capillaries, and connective tissue. Particularly, anthocyanosides seem to work favorably in the tissues found in the retina, the back of the eye where major functions of vision take place.
Bilberry’s component anthocyanosides is an active blood sugar reducer.
Modern laboratory studies on bilberry fruit extracts have confirmed that bilberry produces a slight relaxation effect on vascular smooth muscles.
Extracts of the fruit have also been shown in laboratory experiments to inhibit enzymes such as elastase, which can cause the degradation of collagen. This can lead to a reduction in factors associated with inflammatory conditions such as atherosclerosis, pulmonary emphysema, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Results of clinical studies involving more than 700 patients with various conditions related to poor micro-circulation in cases of atherosclerosis, a tendency to bruising, hemorrhoids and varicose veins have shown that bilberry extracts help reduce damage from free radicals (antioxidant effects) and promote healthy circulation to the extremities.
Bilberry extracts help to keep atherosclerotic plaques from forming on the lining of the arteries by strengthening the collagen that makes up the arterial walls. This helps to keep the arteries flexible, which helps to normalize blood pressure.
CONSTITUENTS OF BILBERRY
- Bioflavonoids containing anthocyanosides have been shown to have strong antioxidant properties
- Twelve different phenolic acids
- Three glycosides of quercetin, including quercitrin, isoquercitrin, and hyperoside
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin C
- Other bio-active compounds
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