Vaccinium myrtillus benefits and medicinal uses

Vaccinium myrtillus is a perennial dwarf shrub grows to a height of 10-40 cm. abundantly branched; the Bilberry has an erect stem that is bristly when young and glabrous when mature.

Vaccinium leaves are alternate, short-stalked and wither by winter. The blades are elliptical semi-matt and dark green. They are ovate, finely serrated, and tapered.

Flowers are green-yellowish red 4-5 lobed fused, with a single carpel. It has 4-8 stamens. Flowers have solitary axils. Fruit is spherical 4-8 mm in size, dark blue, and glaucous. Flowering is from May- July.

Bilberry health benefits, uses and side effects (Vaccinium myrtillus)

Vaccinium myrtillus common name

The common name of this plant is Bilberry. Other common names are Huckleberry, blueberry, bog berry, whortleberry, and Hurtle berry.

Botanical name and family

The botanical name is Vaccinium myrtillus. It belongs to the Ericaceae family.

Geological places where Vaccinium myrtillus grows

It grows in US, Canada, Poland, Germany, Mexico, France, Spain, Sweden, and New Zealand. In the US, the states that produce 98% of the Bilberries are Michigan, Georgia, California, Washington, North Carolina, Mississippi, Indiana, Florida, Oregon, and New Jersey.

Vaccinium myrtillus medicinal uses and benefits

Bilberry fruit flower and leaves

The Bilberry fruit has its rich blue color due to the presence of anthocyanins and flavonoids. The high oxidant content and the polyphenolic compounds give the Bilberry its medicinal properties. Here is a look at the benefits of Bilberry, bilberry leaf health benefits, Vaccinium myrtillus fruit extract and Vaccinium myrtillus skin benefits.

  • Improve the collagen structure: The Bilberry helps stabilize the structure of the collagen due to the action of the anthocyanosides.  It prevents the degradation of the collagen and improves the connective tissue bonding.
  • Good for relaxation: One of the primary effects of the anthocyanosides is to relax the muscles. It removes the knotted tensions and helps make the muscles loose. It especially helps women who suffer from dysmenorrhea. The bioflavonoids help the vascular smooth muscles to relax.
  • As an external antiseptic: The Vaccinium myrtillus shows good antiseptic action. It destroys the pathogens such as bacteria that invade the living tissue. You can apply the bilberry tincture to the external wounds and become safe from the attack of bacteria.
  • Help strengthen capillaries: Capillaries have remarkable permeability and fragility. This shortcoming gets rectified by the action of Vaccinium myrtillus that strengthens and makes them healthy. Due to this vasoprotective action, many ailments stand corrected.
  • Protective action against cancer cell growth: Bilberry inhibits cancer cell proliferation better than the other plants used in the study of cancer. The cell growth inhibition was better for Bilberry than for other plants that contain anthocyanins such as lingonberry or black currant.
  • Antiplatelet activity: The normal platelet aggregation underwent a study. Bilberry anthocyanins reduced the aggregation more than ascorbic acid alone. When they combine, the effect is the strongest. In a study conducted on rats, the prostacyclin synthesis became inhibited in vitro by flavonoids. Similar activity by the Vaccinium myrtillus showed in the rat arterial tissue.
  • Hypotensive effect: Due to their ability to relax vascular smooth muscles, they say that Bilberry will potentially drop blood pressure. This could prove very useful for people suffering from high blood pressure.
  • Effects of intracellular signalling: The nature of the anthocyanosides is to inhibit cAMP phosphodiesterase. This substance is actively involved in intracellular signal transduction pathways.
  • Diuretic action: You get relief from several ailments of the bladder through the diuretic action of the Bilberry herb. It cures urine retention and flushes the bladder of all toxins. This makes the urinary system effective and healthy.
  • Antiulcer effect: In a study conducted on animals, large doses of cyanidin chloride from Vaccinium myrtillus gave the release prostaglandin E2 in the gastric mucus. Cyanidin chloride suppressed the gastric ulcer in the animals.
  • Anti-galactagogue effect: When nursing women produce too much milk, it can lead to problems for them. So, they gave them Bilberry extract. This stops the milk production, and so the women get relief.
  • Antibiotic activity: Bilberry has notable antibiotic activity. It prevents the infections by germs and other pathogens. You can use Vaccinium myrtillus in many forms – as the fresh leaves, as a decoction of the dried and powdered leaves, or a paste to apply externally at the site of wounds and blisters.
  • Enhance health of the liver: The hepatoprotective action helps the person get better protection for the liver. It enhances the health by flushing the toxins from the body, and thereby, it prevents injuries to the liver. This showed up in a study on the animals, and it is possible that it could prove useful for humans too.
  • Helpful in reducing inflammation: Many people suffer pain from age-related ailments such as rheumatism. The action of Bilberry helps reduce the inflammation and the pain in the joints of the patients to a great extent. For this purpose, they use a paste of the leaves of the Bilberry plant. They apply it over the joints twice a day.
  • Presence of glucoquinine: This is a natural substance present in Vaccinium myrtillus plant. It helps reduce the blood sugar levels a lot. Though this is helpful, diabetic patients who use medication to control their blood sugar levels might experience low sugar levels. So, they need to be careful. They must consult their prescribing physician before they take Bilberry in big doses.
  • The astringent activity of Vaccinium myrtillus: You can dry up secretions and discharges by using the Bilberry extract. It helps because it has an astringent nature. Many people use it for cosmetic purposes as it can remove the excess oil on the face and make the skin more attractive. Apply the preparation made with Bilberry leaves to add luster to the face.

Possible side effects of Vaccinium myrtillus

Though allergic reaction to the use of Bilberry is rare, consult your physician immediately if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Itching or swelling
  • Rash
  • Severe dizziness
  • Breathing trouble

Also, there is the possibility that bilberry interacts with other herbs such as Aloe Vera, Ginger, or Milk Thistle.

Making the Bilberry tea

Use freshly chopped Itching leaves to make the tea. Add 5-6 teaspoons of chopped leaves to three cups of water. Boil water and let the leaves steep in it for 10 minutes. Strain and cool the water; add two teaspoons of honey.

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Anoop Sharma

About Anoop Sharma

Anoop Sharma is an IT professional, freelance health writer and creator of www.medicinalplantsanduses.com. He is passionate about helping others learn about health issues and their natural remedies, yoga and healthy food.

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