Due to the fruit sugar found in them, ripe bilberries have a mild laxative action. Dried bilberries are markedly binding and possess an antibacterial action. An herbal decoction prepared from the dried bilberries is effective in the treatment of diarrhea affecting children. The bilberry decoction is also used as an herbal mouthwash in treating various oral disorders and throat problems. Many different physical disorders and symptoms are treated using the dried leaves of the bilberries - different kinds of remedies are made from the dried leaves. The dried leaves of the bilberry are prepared from green leaves harvested early in the autumn, only the green fresh leaves are selected, and these are then dried by gently heating them and put in storage for late use. The use of the leaves as herbal medicine should not exceed three weeks at a stretch. The strong astringent action of the herbal tea made from the dried leaves is beneficial in the treatment of many diseases; this herbal tea also possesses a diuretic, a tonic and an antiseptic action, and is particularly beneficial for problems affecting the urinary tract of a person. This herbal tea is also used a remedy for treating diabetes and benefits the patient especially when it is used for a long period of time. While not suggesting their use as an alternative to conventional treatments, one report states that the bilberry leaves can also be helpful in treating pre-diabetic states in the human body. Bilberry leaves contain compounds known as glucoquinones, these compounds help in lowering elevated blood sugar. A topical oral treatment commonly utilized in treating ulcers and ulceration of the mouth and throat is a decoction made from the leaves and the bark of the bilberry. The distilled liquid made using the leaves of the bilberry makes excellent eyewash and is soothing to inflamed or sore eyes. A slight laxative effect is affected on the body by the fresh fruit when it is eaten raw, however, if the berries are dried, they possess an astringent action and are commonly employed as a treatment for disorders such as diarrhea and in treating many other intestinal complaints. A plant pigment called anthocyanin is found in the skin of the berries and the skin is specifically used in the treatment of hemeralopia - day-blindness. The bilberry is very abundant in anthocyanosides, these compounds have been experimentally shown to cause dilation in the blood vessels, and this property makes the bilberry potentially valuable as a treatment for problems such as varicose veins, to treat chronic hemorrhoids and to treat fragility in the capillary system.
The bilberry is a native species of Europe and temperate regions of North America. The herb grows well in heath land, on moors and meadows, and also in moist undergrowth in lightly wooded areas. Bilberry is harvested during the summer, the fruits and leaves are collected from plants in the wild. To grow at optimal rates, the bilberry prefers moist but well drained lime free soils. This herb grows well in soils that are rich in peat, while good growth is also observed on light loamy soil that has added leaf moulds or humus. The acidic range preferred in the soil ranges from a pH range of 4.5 to 6, the herbs can become chlorotic rapidly if lime is present in the soil due to the alkalinity. Bilberry prefers a site that has good exposure to sunlight and gives the best berries at such sites; however, the herb successfully grows in areas in light shade as well. The bilberry is sensitive to disturbance in the soil around the roots, cultivated plants are best grown in pots till they become well established and can then be planted out in their permanent positions in the garden. The bilberry can grow in light woodland as it tolerates some shade. The bilberry is quite resistant to wind and exposure. The fruits of plants grown in an exposed open location tend to be better than the berries borne on plants grown at sheltered sites. In woodlands with acidic soils, bilberry may grow very well and can form the ground vegetation in such woods. When it is growing well, it is a freely suckering shrub. If the aerial parts are destroyed by being burnt they can regenerate quite well from what is left underground. Bilberry is also tolerant to some grazing from grazers and browsers. Bilberry is self-sterile according to one report, while another report states that the plant self-fertilizes. Wild animals and birds enjoy the berries and the herb is a source of food for a number of insect species wherever it grows. Most plants in this genus are resistant to the destructive honey fungus and can resist this parasite well. The normal mode of propagation is through seeds. Bilberry seeds are sown in late winter in a lime free potting mixture within a greenhouse - the seeds must be lightly covered with soil and not buried in the seed bed. A time period of upwards of three months may be required by stored seeds to overcome cold stratification. One study suggests that bilberry seeds are best sown inside a greenhouse as and when they ripen. As the seeds germinate and seedlings reach five centimeter in length, each of the seedlings can be pricked out into separate pots and then grown in a lightly shaded site within the greenhouse for their first winter. These seedlings can be planted out into their permanent sites late in the spring or in early summer, as soon as the last expected frosts of the year have passed. Bilberry cuttings can also be taken; cuttings of the half ripened wood, each at 5 cm - 8 cm including a heel can be taken in August and propagated on a frame. The cuttings from mature wood can be taken late in the fall. The bilberry can be subjected to layering late in the summer or early in the fall. One study states that the spring season is the best time to layer the plants.
The normal dosage regimen of the bilberry herbal extract used by the majority of people is 240 mg - 480 mg daily either in the form of capsules or in tablet form. Capsules and tablets are standardized to contain 25 % anthocyanosides and can easily be found in many herbal stores.
The use of the bilberry herbal extract in recommended amounts does not produce any known side effects in patients. The remedy made from the bilberry does not react with the most common prescription medications. In addition, no known contraindications to the bilberry exist regarding its consumption by nursing or pregnant mothers.
FRESH - Bilberry can be eaten fresh, a large bowl of whole fresh bilberries is excellent for constipation. The fresh bilberries may also be mixed with cream, sugar or milk as well. JUICE - Bilberry juice is effective in treating diarrhea; the juice can be taken in 10 ml doses without the sugar. DECOCTION - Take one glass daily for chronic diarrhea. MOUTHWASH - The diluted bilberry juice is excellent for the treatment of ulcers and inflammation in the gums. LOTION - Bilberry juice can also be diluted with an equal amount of the witch hazel as a cooling lotion to treat sunburn and various inflammations in the skin. POWDER - Powdered bilberry is also a good remedy for babies and infants affected by diarrhea. The powdered herb can be mixed at a ratio of 75 mg per 1 lb body weight to the infant's formula and the baby should be given this drink.
INFUSION - Bilberry leaf infusion can be used in addition to dietary controls as part of the treatment for late onset, non-insulin dependent diabetes. MOUTHWASH/GARGLE - The bilberry infusion can be used to treat ulcers and inflammation in the throat.