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What is Vaccinium Myrtillus Extract good for?

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.

Bilberry Extract is extracted from ripe bilberry berries. It contains a relatively large amount of anthocyanins and some polysaccharides, pectin, tannins, arbutin, vitamin C and B vitamins, etc. Anthocyanins have antioxidant effects and free radical scavenging capabilities, and also have biological activities such as anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, regulating blood lipids, and improving insulin resistance.

Nutrient Content

Bilberries are the richest natural source of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants. In addition to anthocyanins, it also contains other phenolic components such as quercetin, tannins, pectin, and catechins. It also contains alkaloids, carbonic acid and a host of important nutrients, including vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E and K. Among the mineral treasures are chromium, manganese, zinc, and iron.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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