The Bilberry Herb - A Few Facts
The bilberry herb is more common than the name suggests. In Scotland it is called the blueberry; in the western United States we know it as the huckleberry. Some sources indicated the bilberry herb is closely related to the blueberry and cranberry which is true. The lingonberry, well known throughout Scandinavia, but especially Sweden, is another close relative. Other sources cite the huckleberry as being a close relative, which is not exactly true. The huckleberry and bilberry are one and the same. The bilberry is also referred to as the European blueberry. It grows as a dwarf shrub, usually reaching no more than between 2 and 3 feet in height.
Much is made of the health benefits and healing power of the bilberry herb, and bilberry supplements are offered for sale in the marketplace. Many of the claims are true, others are a bit of a stretch, and a few are false. The bilberry herb (huckleberry), like the blueberry, is powerful in antioxidant properties. Although the blueberry is richer in these properties, the bilberry herb certainly ranks as one of the best sources of this particular health benefit.
A Safe Food To Eat - The bilberry herb is excellent for making pies, jams and jellies. Bilberries are great tasting additions to ice cream and make superb milkshakes. In the Rocky Mountain states, these are simple known as huckleberry shakes. As far as any toxic elements or side effects are concerned, the bilberry is a safe food. Eating too many bilberries can have effects similar to eating too much of anything. Even bilberry supplements are generally considered to be safe, although this depends to some extent on what other ingredients are to be found in a particular pill or powder. Where problems might arise, is in ingesting bilberry extract. Some toxic effects have been noted in this area, although nothing too serious appears to have been documented. The extract of almost any herb or other food item is always a very concentrated substance, and normally intended to be consumed only in small quantities.
Benefits – Fact and Fiction - It is in the area of benefits of eating the bilberry herb, including the leaves, and bilberry-based products, where it can be at times difficult to separate fact from fiction. The bilberry herb is definitely a very healthy food item, there's no argument there. The bilberry is supposed to be good for the eyes, and useful both in treating eye ailments and preventing them. There appears to be much truth in this. Claims that bilberries improve night vision have never been proven however, or at least documented as such. There is little doubt the bilberry's anti-oxidant properties boost the performance of the immune system, just as is the case with the blueberry. Various claims are made regarding the bilberry leaves. Bilberry leaf tea is claimed to reduce blood sugar levels, improve circulation, and resolve digestive problems. These claims may or may not have some truth to them. In any event, bilberry leaf tea appears to be a harmless drink, and the leaves are a good source of several trace minerals which are beneficial to our health and well being.
Tried A Bilberry Milkshake? - In summary, the bilberry herb is a very healthy food item. Bilberries sold in the market place tend to be a bit pricey, especially since fresh bilberries are not particularly good keepers. Whether or not bilberry supplements are all they are sometimes claimed to be remains an open question. If the opportunity presents itself, one recommendation is to treat yourself to a bilberry milkshake. Unless you're allergic to dairy products (ice cream), or overly concerned about your weight, a bilberry or huckleberry milkshake is a pleasure to drink and quite healthy as well.