The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

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Bilberry

Contents:

Common Names | Parts Usually Used | Plant(s) & Culture | Where Found | Medicinal Properties | Biochemical Information
Legends, Myths and Stories | Uses | Formulas or Dosages | Nutrient Content | How Sold | Warning | Resource Links | Bibliography

Scientific Names

Bilberry

Bilberry

  • Vaccinium myrtillus L.
  • Ericaceae
  • Heath family

Common Names

  • Black whortleberry
  • Blueberry (V. angustifolium)
  • Burren myrtle
  • Dyeberry
  • Huckleberry
  • Hurtleberry
  • Whinberry
  • Whortleberry
  • Whorts
  • Wineberry

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Parts Usually Used

Leaves and berries
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Bilberry

Bilberry

Bilberry is a shrubby perennial plant; the angular, green, branched stem grows from a creeping rootstock to a height of 1 to 1 1/2 feet. The leaves are alternate, obovate or ovate, weakly serrate, dark green and shiny on top, and 1/2 to 1 inch long. The reddish pink or red and white, solitary, axillary flowers have a pitcher-shaped corolla and appear in May and June. The fruit is a blue-black (may be red in some areas), 5 seeded berry. Berries grows in twos or threes at the bases of the leaves instead of in clusters terminating the branches as in true blueberry. Seeds resemble currants. Although often called huckleberry, the bilberry is more nearly related to the cranberry.

According to Culpeper there are two sorts common in England, the black and the red berries. Both used similarly.
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Where Found

Grows in the sandy areas, in acid soil, in forests, heaths, rocky barrens, bog and tundra. Northern United States. In the woods and forest meadows of Europe.
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Medicinal Properties

Antiseptic, astringent, nutritive, diuretic
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Biochemical Information

Fatty acids, hyroquinone, iron, loeanolic acid, neomyrtillin, sodium, tannins, and ursolic acids, quinnic acid (in the leaves) potassium, and vitamins A and C.
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Bilberry growing wild

Bilberry growing wild

Bilberry is a well-known folk remedy for poor vision, especially for people who suffer from “night blindness,” that is, they have difficulty seeing in the dark. In fact, bilberry jam was given to Royal Air Force pilots who flew nighttime missions during World War II. It works by accelerating the regeneration of retinol purple, commonly known as visual purple, a substance that is required for good eyesight. European medical journals are filled with studies confirming bilberry’s positive effect on vision. Unfortunatley, this herb has not received the attention it deserves in the American medical community so far.

Used to make wine.

Elizabethan apothecaries made a syrup of the berries with honey, called rob, as a remedy for diarrhea.

Bilberry is a home and industrial leather dye of brown and yellow colors. Combined with other chemicals to produce violet, red, green and blue for wool, cotton and linen material.
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Uses

Bilberry fruit

Bilberry fruit

For diabetes, (bilberry berries increases insulin production, caution should be taken by diabetics and cases of hypoglycemia), sinusitis, kidney and bladder problems, ulcers. Leaves help to lower blood sugar levels and to ease inflammation. The leaf is effective as a remedy for diarrhea. Fresh berries can produce diarrhea in some people and stop it in others. Also the fruit is used for anemia, consumptive wasting, indigestion, and colitis. Roots are used for dropsy, and urinary stones. Dried berries pass through the stomach without affecting it; beginning work in the small intestine. A strong decoction of the berries is said to be used for typhoid fever. Fresh or well-preserved berry juice makes a good gargle for sore throats or as a mouthwash for inflamed gums or for leucoplasia (an inflammation of the tongue producing white patches). Eating the fresh berries help regulate bowel action, stimulate appetite, end intestinal putrefaction which causes gas. Leaf tea used for coughs, vomiting, stomach cramps, and catarrhal enteritis. Externally, use as a wash for skin problems, sores, wounds, ulcers, and burns. Strengthens capillaries that feed eye muscles and nerves reducing and even reversing the damage caused by blood vessel deterioration. Increases night vision, reduces eye fatigue, helpful for nearsightedness (myopia). Helps preserve eyesight and prevent eye damage. At one time, it was used in the treatment of scurvy in Norway and other northern countries.
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Formulas or Dosages

Gather the leaves when the plant is fully developed but before the berries are ripe.

Infusion: use 2-3 tsp. leaves with 1 cup water. Take 1 cup a day.

Decoction: use 1 tsp. dried berries with 1 cup water; let stand for 8 hours.

Extract: mix 15-40 drops in water or juice, and drink 3 times daily.

Tincture: take 15-40 drops in water, 3 or more times a day as needed.
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Nutrient Content

Potassium, and vitamins A and C

Huckleberry nutrients

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How Sold

Capsules: 1 capsule, from 1-3 per day.
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Warning

Interferes with iron absorption when taken internally.
The leaves lower blood sugar levels, so insulin-dependent diabetics should not take them in infusions without professional supervision.
Leaves can produce symptoms of poisoning if used over long periods.
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Resource Links

LiveStrong.com: Bilberry Uses

LiveStrong.com: Bilberry Vs. Huckleberry

LiveStrong.com: Borage Oil & Bilberry

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Bilberry

National Center for Complementary Medicine: Bilberry

U.S. National Library of Medicine: Bilberry

University of Maryland Medical Center: Bilberry

Glaucoma.org: Alternative Medicine

PubMed.gov: Inhibition Activity of Wild Berry Juice Fractions against Streptococcus pneumoniae Binding to Human Bronchial Cells.

PubMed.gov: Cancer-preventive activities of secondary metabolites from leaves of the bilberry Vaccinium smallii A. Gray.

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Bibliography

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! A Useful Guide to Herbal Health Care, HCBL (Health Center for Better Living).,1414 Rosemary Lane, Naples, FL 34103., Special Sale Catalog, 1996

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