Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a perennial small-branched shrubby fruit-bearing plant that grows in the North American Rocky Mountains, Western Asia and Europe.
Bilberry is also known as whortleberry, black whortles, whinberry, trackleberry, huckleberry, hurts, bleaberry, hurtleberry, airelle, vaccinium frondosum, and European blueberries.
What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?
The bilberry plant contains vitamins A and C, and quinic acid and various tannins.
As a source of vitamins A and C and anthocyanosides, bilberries are a source of antioxidants. Antioxidants scavenge the body for free radicals and eliminate them.
In addition to having antioxidant effects, anthocyanosides are also clinically proven to promote blood vessel health and proper circulation. Improved circulation may lead to vasodilation, improved joint health, increased blood flow to the brain, and supply the nervous system with blood.
As a source of quinic acid [C6H7(OH)4COOH - a sugar compound], bilberry - like it's cousin the cranberry plant - may be useful for supporting urinary tract health.
Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?
Everyone can benefit from supplementing with bilberry (see above).
Bilberry is not an essential nutrient and no symptoms of deficiency exist.
How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?
Follow label directions.
No side effects are known, and bilberry extract is not known to be contraindicated with any prescription medication or over the counter dietary supplement.