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Health Benefits of the Bilberry Fruit and Leaves

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Updated October 03, 2008

Bilberry comes from a plant that is similar to the blueberry. It has been widely used in traditional European medicine for more than 1,000 years. Also, people cook with bilberries, much like they do with blueberries, by making pies and jams and other desserts. The bilberry is also called the European blueberry, the whortleberry and the huckleberry.

Bilberry Uses and Health Benefits

The bilberry was used in the past to help treat scurvy (a condition once common among sailors because of the lack of fresh fruit and, specifically, vitamin C). These days, the bilberry is used for many issues, including diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and circulation problems. The leaf of the bilberry plant also is sometimes used to treat diabetes. Basically, the fruit is eaten whole or made into extracts, whereas the leaves are used in teas (and extracts).

Bilberry – Does It Work?

Well, that’s a tough question. No one has really bothered to research it. Chances are it does some good, much like the blueberry, but that the claims have been exaggerated. The bilberry is a fruit and is good for you. As long as you stick to eating the fruit, there haven’t been any side effects reported. Be careful of bilberry leaf tea and extracts made from the bilberry leaf. Those contain toxins that you don’t want in your body in high doses.

Source: National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Herbs at a Glance.

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