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Bilberry Extract

Bilberry Extract

Extract Name: Bilberry Extract

Abbr. Name: Bilberry P.E.

Extract Category: Herbal Extract

Extract Class: Herbal Extracts

Bilberry Extract Detail:


Bilberry (Vaccinium vites-idaea L) is a short, shrubby perennial plant that inhabits the woods and forest meadows of Europe, Western Asia, and the Rocky Mountains of North America. As with many other plants that belong to the same plant family (Vaccinium), bilberry bears edible fruits similar to those found on the American blueberry bush. Cranberries and huckleberry belong to this plant family too.
Specifically, bilberry may help to:
Improve night vision as well as prevent and treat macular degeneration and cataracts. Even though the evidence showing that bilberry works for various vision-related problems is still quite weak, 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 oxygen and blood delivery to the eye.
Herbalists have also long considered bilberry useful for treating night blindness and daytime vision impaired by glare. But while some studies indicate at least some short-term effectiveness with bilberry, others find no benefit at all over the use of a placebo (dummy drug or sugar pill).
The herb is also quite popular for preventing macular degeneration, a condition in which the light-sensitive area in the center of the retina breaks down.
It may also help slow the progression of cataracts, a clouding in the eye's lens that is common in older people. In one study of 50 patients with age-related cataracts, 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.
Improve varicose veins and other circulatory problems. The active ingredients in bilberry appear to enhance blood flow to vessels that circulate blood throughout the body. For this reason, the herb may benefit people suffering from poor circulation in their extremities, painful varicose veins, and hemorrhoids--all discomforts that can be expected to improve with enhanced circulation.
A 1988, single-blind, placebo-controlled study of this herb included 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.

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