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Bilberry Extract

Overview

Bilberry extract is made from the leaves and berries of the bilberry plant, which grows over much of Europe and Australia. Kin to the American blueberry, the plant has edible berries which are used to make jams, preserves and pies or eaten as is.  The leaves and berries have been used in traditional herbal medicine for generations to relieve diarrhea and stomach upsets.

 

Bilberry extract also seems to help prevent problems with the eyes, and improve general circulation.  The most effective form of bilberry seems to be a standardized bilberry extract containing 18-25% of the assumed active ingredients Ė phyto-chemicals called anthocyanidin flavonoids.

 

What Bilberry Extract Does:

Standardized bilberry extract contains anthocyanidins, flavonoids that function as powerful antioxidants. Anthocyanidins contribute to overall cell health, and promote healthy circulation by strengthening cell walls.  Specifically, they seem to strengthen capillaries, which has the effect of improving circulation.

 

The circulation improvement may also be the reason for the reports (mostly anecdotal) of improved night vision when taking bilberry extract. S cientists have suggested that the improved capillary action may help the eyes adjust to more easily to changing levels of light.  The anthocyanidins in bilberry extract promote the production of rhodopsin, which improves night vision as well.  And finally, the antioxidant action of anthocyanidins present in bilberry extract definitely does seem to be specific to eye health, as multiple studies have strongly suggested a relation between taking bilberry extract and improvement of conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration.

 

Bilberry extract also contains tannins Ė natural astringents that help stop bleeding and may account for the traditional herbal use of bilberries to treat bruising and promote healing.

 

Health Benefits of Bilberry Extract:

During World War II, fighter pilots noticed that their night vision appeared to be more acute if they ate bilberry jam before night bombing missions. I ntrigued by the reports, scientists studied the effects of bilberry extract on vision and night vision after the war. There have also been studies into the other reported effects of bilberry extract.  The results show:

-         Bilberry extract fights the effects of age related macular degeneration.  Macular degeneration is an age-related condition that is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults.  Itís been proven that antioxidants like bilberry extract and Vitamin B12 help slow and prevent the effects of oxidation that lead to macular degeneration.

-         Bilberry extract stops the growth of cataracts. In a clinical evaluation conducted in 1989, 50 patients with some cataract formation were given supplements of bilberry extract and vitamin E.  Cataract growth was stopped in 48 of the 50 patients. 

-         Bilberry extract improves general eye health by improving circulation in the retina. Itís been proven effective in improving glaucoma, nearsightedness, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration as well as cataracts.

-         Bilberry increases blood flow in capillaries, and seems to relieve discomfort in those who suffer from poor circulation to the extremities.

-         Bilberry extract strengthens capillary walls, helping to prevent bruising, varicose veins, thrombosis and angina.

-         Bilberry extract contains glucoquinine, which has been shown to lower blood sugar, and may be helpful in the treatment of diabetes.

-         Bilberry is a traditional herbal cure for diarrhea, and functions as an anti-inflammatory.

-         In studies, bilberry extract has prevented stomach ulcers in rats that are predisposed to them. Further research is needed, but itís likely that bilberry functions to protect the stomach lining from damage.

 

Possible Side Effects of Bilberry Extract

Bilberry extract is generally considered safe. There are no reported harmful side effects, though extremely large doses should not be taken.  While no known drug interactions have been reported, it may be wise to consult a physician before taking bilberry extract if you are taking an anticoagulant.

 

Summary

Many nutritionists recommend taking bilberry as dried bilberry extract, standardized to contain 23%-37% anthocyanadins.  Because bilberry extract seems to increase the effective rates of other nutrients, they also recommend taking bilberry extract as part of a more inclusive product.  Itís part of the reason that we choose to take Total Balance from Xtend-Life natural products of New Zealand.  The recommended Xtend-Life daily serving size of Total Balance formula provides 300 mgs of standardized bilberry extract to work with other ingredients like vitamin E, vitamin B12 and quercetin for improved circulation and better eye health.

 

 

 

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