Vaccinium Myrtillus • Bilberry
Bilberry is a blue food and member of a the Vaccinium genus which includes other species of berries including huckleberry, cranberry and blueberry.
Both the leaf and the fruit contain compounds believed beneficial in managing diabetes, circulatory disorders and mild inflammation.
Bilberry extracts are used in Europe to treat eye disorders like macular degeneration, cataracts and night blindness.
Bilberry extracts improves brain activity, vision and coordination, by speeding the transmission of optic impulses.
The pharmacologically active compounds in bilberry are the flavonoids (leucoanthocyans, anthocyanosides and iridoids). Standardized extracts of bilberry should contain 25% active agent.
Leucoanthocyans prevent the degenerative diseases of aging caused by free radical oxidative damage.
The anthocyanosides of bilberry enhance the strength of collagen. Collagen (a helical protein composed of three linked chains) is destroyed during the inflammatory process. Inflammatory damage causes a host of degenerative chronic diseases (osteoarthritis in the joints, periodontitis around teeth and diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration of
The metabolism of collagen is affected by anthocyanosides whose activity is consistent with other flavonoids in their ability to enhance collagen cross-linkage, prevent free radical damage and inhibit the inflammatory release of leukotrienes, prostaglandins and histamine.
Crosslinking is essential for collagen fibers to acquire the tensile strength required for function. Crosslinking requires the oxidation of lysine side chains by a copper-containing enzyme (lysyl oxidase). Inhibition of the enzyme results in fragile connective tissue. Protecting the enzyme results in stronger tissues.
Flavonoids (anthocyanosides) prevent the aggregation of platelets, a process believed responsible for the initiation of atherosclerosis. Flavonoids synergistically work with vitamin C to decrease capillary permeability and fragility.
The strengthening of capillary walls is due to the anthocyanosides promoting cross linkage in collagen and protecting it from free radical damage.
Anthocyanosides have a predilection for brain tissue thus improving the integrity of the blood-brain barrier. The strengthening of the blood-brain barrier is essential to restoring the brains protective mechanism against cerebral toxins (ammonia, free radicals).
Bilberry has a hypoglycemic effect on blood glucose levels (lowers it) due to its high content of chromium. Bilberry has had a long folk use in the treatment of diabetes. Bilberry extracts are used in Europe as an “anti-diabetic” tea and in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy.
During normal vision, light is focused through the lens and onto the retina where it interacts with rods and cones. The light is thus converted to electrical impulses and sent to the visual areas in the brain (visual cortex).
Bilberry extract improves peripheral and night vision by its affinity for the visual purple area of the retina. The visual purple area controls the eyes’ adaptive response to light and dark. The health of the eye is dependent upon a rich blood supply that is improved by the increased oxygen delivery provided by bilberry extract.