- superfood for eyes
he bilberry (Vaccinium
myrtillus), is a short, shrubby perennial plant that grows in the woods
and forest meadows of Europe, western Asia, and in the Rocky Mountains
of North America. As with many other plants of the Vaccinium family, the
bilberry bears edible fruits similar to those of the American blueberry
bush. Indeed, it is sometimes called the "European blueberry".
The cranberry and huckleberry also belong to this plant family.
blue-black berry, which is creamy-white inside, has been valued as a food
since prehistoric times. The fruit is well-known as a filling for pies,
and for use in jams and other recipes. In addition, for centuries European
herbalists have used the plant's fruit and leaves for medicinal purposes,
treating a variety of complaints by use of a strong, boiled "tea"
made from the plant. Urinary-tract infections, kidney stones, and diarrhoea
are just a few of the ailments which bilberry has been used to treat.
The modern reputation of the bilberry as a medicinal plant was sparked
during World War II, when British Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots found that
their night-vision was improved if they ate bilberry preserves before
starting their night-time missions. Subsequent research has revealed that
bilberries do indeed contain powerful substances (antioxidant anthocyanosides)
capable of protecting cells and tissues in the eye (and in other parts
of the body) against free radical damage and deterioration.
Today, bilberry ranks among the most popular supplements for maintaining
healthy vision and for assisting in the treatment of various vision disorders,
including poor night-vision, cataracts, and macular degeneration (AMD).
However it may be valuable also for other conditions, especially those
associated with poor blood-circulation. Bilberry has anti-inflammatory
benefits and is able to reduce symptoms of hemorrhoids. Until recently
traditionally usage of bilberry was for acute diarrhea and diabetic retinopathy.
The beneficial components of bilberry
.Researchers intrigued by the improved night-vision of the bilberry-eating
RAF pilots eventually identified certain active compounds in the berry
called anthocyanosides. These substances appear to have the effect of
fortifying blood-vessel walls, improving blood flow to the tiny blood
vessels that keep eyes healthy, as well as flow in larger blood vessels
that help maintain good circulation throughout the body. Anthocyanosides
also appear to strengthen collagen, the protein that provides support
to healthy connective tissue.
Other important healing substances in bilberries -- astringent compounds
called tannins -- are helpful in the treatment of such problems as diarrhoea,
sore throat, and mouth inflammations; a tea made from the dried berries
can be either drunk or (when cooled) gargled. In Germany, the health authorities
have approved the use of bilberry for treating mild cases of these ailments.
Bilberry and disorders of vision
Herbalists have long considered bilberry useful for treating night blindness,
to improve daytime vision impaired by glare, as well as to prevent and
treat macular degeneration and cataracts. Although specific evidence showing
that bilberry is effective for vision-related problems is still quite
weak -- some studies indicate at least some short-term effectiveness,
while others find no benefit over use of a placebo (dummy pill) --, the
herb's popularity persists. The plant appears to assist the retina, the
light-sensitive part of the eye, in adjusting quickly to both dark and
light. This is probably a result of the plant's anthocyanosides, which
have antioxidant properties and appear to boost nutrient and blood delivery
to the retinal cells. These flavonoid compounds, the same above-mentioned
anthocyanosides, are highly effective free-radical scavengers, possessing
an antioxidant effect up to 50 times more powerful than vitamin E.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a condition in which the light-sensitive
area in the center of the retina gradually deteriorates. This is an extremely
important cause of blindness -- in many countries, it is the most common
cause. Several studies have shown that the potent antioxidants found in
bilberry may be a natural way to prevent this degeneration of vision.
Studies have shown that the rate of retinal degeneration associated with
macular degeneration can be slowed by increasing the amount of anthocyanosides
in the system, which can be achieved simply through dietary supplementation.
Besides helping prevent macular degeneration, the herb may also help slow
the progression of cataract. This is a clouding in the eye-lens that is
common in older people, and is another extremely important cause of blindness.
In one study of 50 patients with age-related cataract, it was found that
taking bilberry extract along with vitamin E supplements stopped the progression
of cataracts in nearly all of the participants. It remains unclear, however,
whether the vitamin or the bilberry, or even the combination of the two,
was responsible for this beneficial effect.
The herb has also shown promise in lessening the effects of diabetic retinopathy,
a degenerative eye disease that affects people with diabetes. This disorder
is the third of the "big three" causes of blindness. It may
be expected to become even more significant in future, since rates of
diabetes are tending to increase.
Apart from visual complaints, bilberry is used to improve varicose veins
and other circulatory problems. The active ingredients in bilberry appear
to enhance blood flow to vessels that serve in its circulation throughout
the body. For this reason, the herb may benefit people suffering from
poor circulation in their extremities, painful varicose veins, and haemorrhoids
-- all discomforts that can be expected to lessen with enhanced circulation.
In 1988, a single-blind, placebo-controlled trial of this herb studied
60 patients with poor circulation (or venous insufficiency). The results
showed that bilberry extract decreased the participants' discomfort when
taken over a period of 30 days. The study had some design flaws, however,
and more research on the subject is clearly needed.
Forms of bilberry for treatment
Bilberry can be taken in the form of the berries eaten fresh or dried,
tea made from the berries or leaves (see below), bilberry extract, and
as powder in capsules. The extract usually contains the greatest percentage
of anthocyanidins (anthocyanosides). In parts of Europe, high-quality,
pharmaceutical-grade bilberry is converted into a potent extract from
the whole, dried, ripe fruit. The content of anthocyanidins is then standardized
to defined limits to ensure consistent effectiveness. Look for extracts
standardized to contain between 23% - 37% anthocyanosides.
The dried fruits of the bilberry appear to be safe to take at commonly
recommended dosages, but it is probably best to avoid the leaves because
not much is known about their effectiveness or safety.
Bilberry extract can be taken with or without food.
Although bilberry is usually taken internally, it may also be used externally
in the form of compresses and other formulations made from the strong
tea (after cooling).
Specific uses of bilberry
For cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems: Take 80-
160 mg of standardized extract or 1/2 teaspoon liquid extract two or three
times a day.
For the prevention of diabetic retinopathy: Take 80-160 mg (standardized
to 23-37% anthocyanosides) three times a day.
For varicose veins: Take 80-160 mg standardized extract three times a
For sore throat and diarrhoea: Prepare bilberry tea by pouring 1 cup of
very hot water over 1 or 2 tablespoons of dried whole berries (or 2 or
3 teaspoons of crushed berries). Let the tea steep, covered, for 10 minutes,
then strain. Commercial teabags are also available. Drink up to 4 cups
daily as needed.
Possible interactions and side-effects
Bilberry fruit extract has no known side effects when taken at recommended
doses, even when used on a long-term basis.
If you suspect that you have developed an eye problem or a circulation
disorder, consult your doctor for a diagnosis. If you have a case of diarrhoea
that persists beyond a few days, consult your doctor.
info about Bilberry
info about antioxidants
x 10 tablets. 50mg Schisandra chinensis extract and 150 mg Bilberry
In our 40s we needs EYE TEST
at least every two years
Our eye lens becomes stiffer, resulting
in more difficulties with near vision. And this is inevitability.
But yearly eye tests and early treatment can prevent
macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma