ALBANIA. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) Whole Fruit, Certified Organic
Common names: European Blueberry, Huckleberry, Whortleberry, Black Whortles, Trackleberry, Bleaberry, Hurtleberry, Airelle, Arandano, Brimbelle, Whinberry, Raisin du Bois, Gueule Noire
Bilberry is a deciduous shrub, growing up to around 2 feet high. It is native to northern Europe, Britain, and Asia, especially in hilly areas, and appears as an introduced species in western North America, and a cultivated crop in northern Africa.
Bilberries have been consumed as a food and used in healing since ancient times. They have long been noted for their astringent properties in gastrointestinal conditions such as diarrhea, for urinary complaints, and to reduce breast milk secretion. Culpeper suggests that they belong “under the dominion of Jupiter,” and adds, “It is a pity they are used no more in physic [medicine] than they are.” Other traditional uses include scurvey and diabetes.
Although the lore that RAF figure pilots were given Bilberry jam in World War II to improve their night vision has been dismissed by some, researchers have confirmed the berry’s value in relieving retinal inflammation. Contemporary herbalists recommend it for a number of conditions affecting the eyes, in addition to venous and circulatory issues, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, menstrual disorders, and gout.
Its value for treating colitis has been confirmed in animal experiments. A 2020 review article notes that the anthocyanins found abundantly in Bilberries “have been associated to many beneficial health effects, such as prevention or treatment of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, aging diseases, urinary tract infections and periodontal diseases.” Other components include flavanols, vitamins, minerals, and organic acids.
Tasty Bilberries clearly belong on the list of “functional foods,” with many benefits and few drawbacks when consumed in reasonable amounts!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.