Bilberry is any of several Eurasian species of low-growing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium (family Ericaceae), bearing edible, nearly black berries. The species most often referred to is Vaccinium myrtillus L., but there are several other closely related species. Bilberries are distinct from blueberries but closely related to them.
The leaves can be used in the same way as those of Uva Ursi. The fruits are astringent, and are especially valuable in diarrhoea and dysentery, in the form of syrup. The ancients used them largely, and Dioscorides spoke highly of them. They are also used for discharges, and as antigalactagogues. A decoction of the leaves or bark of the root may be used as a local application to ulcers, and in ulceration of the mouth and throat.
The fruit is helpful in scurvy and urinary complaints, and when bruised with the roots and steeped in gin has diuretic properties valuable in dropsy and gravel. A tea made of the leaves is also a remedy for diabetes if taken for a prolonged period.
Also known as "Black Hearts" according to Thomas Hardy in his 1878 novel The Return of the Native, the European bilberry bush is a close relative of American blueberries, cranberries, and huckleberries. It flourishes in damp acidic soil throughout temperate and sub artic regions of the world. The bilberry has a long history of medicinal use. The English used it as a dye for wool due to its wonderful dark blue/purple coloring. After the successful use of bilberry jam in World War II, researchers determined that bilberry fruit and bilberry leaf contain biologically active substances called anthocyanosides.
The dried Bilberry Leaf has long been used in folk medicine for gastrointestinal disorders. This organic herb, which being the leaf of the plant, is not an "herb" in the technical sense, is used in a number of ways. Dried Vaccinius myrtillus leaves are often steeped in tea and taken as an infusion; like other dried herbs, whole Bilberry Leaf can be ground into a powder and used in essential oils or as a paste for topical application as well. In short, the leaf of the Vaccinium myrtillus plant is used like other natural herbs.
Note: In rare cases, side effects can include nausea, and a very few people may exhibit an allergic reaction. Pregnant women should avoid taking Bilberry Leaf.
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