Introduction of Bilberry:Black Whortles or Huckleberry.

Popular Herbs. ✵The article gives records of the herb Bilberry, its English name, Latin name, common names, property and flavor, its botanical source two plant species, ①.Vaccinium myrtillus L., ②.Vaccinium hirtum Thunb., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of these two plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of these two plant species, the features of the herb Bilberry, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Bilberry(Vaccinium myrtillus).

Bilberry:fruit photo English Name: Bilberry.
 Latin Name: Vaccinium myrtillus L.
 Common Names: Bog bilberry, dwarf bilberry, European blueberry, huckleberry, whortleberry, trackleberry, Dyeberry, Bleaberry, Black Whortles, Burren myrtle.
 Property and flavor: The leaf is warm in nature, tastes bitter. The berry is neutral in nature, tastes sour, sweet.

 Brief introduction: Bilberry is a thickly branched, deciduous shrub, that belongs to the same plant family as cranberry and American blueberry. Its juicy, black, coarsely wrinkled berries contain purple meat and multiple brownish-red seeds. It is a flowering perennial and can be found in woods, and forest meadows across northeast Asia, Europe, and parts of North America. Both the dried berries and the oval leaves are used medicinally.

 Bilberry, scientific name Vaccinium myrtillus, in the UK it is named bilberry, bleaberry, wineberry, whortleberries, in USA (the United States of America) it is called huckleberries. Since time immemorial as food plants. At the beginning of 16th century Europe, it was used as a medicinal plant, the leaves have been used traditionally for converge, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, strong, anti-diabetic activity, has been used to treat diabetes in a variety of herbal mixture.

 Botanical source: Common herbal classics defined the herb Bilberry as the dried fruit or berry of the species (1). Vaccinium myrtillus L.,(2).Vaccinium hirtum Thunb. They are plant species of the Vaccinium genus, the Ericaceae family (Ericaceae Juss.). The fresh fruit, dried fruit, and oval leaves are used medicinally. These two commonly used species are introduced:

(1). Vaccinium myrtillus L.

 Vaccinium myrtillus.:growing plant Botanical description: Vaccinium myrtillus L. is a deciduous shrub, the plant is short, 15~30, or 60 cm tall; There are creeping rhizomes. Stems are upright, multi-branched, and young branches are green, glabrous, with sharp edges. Many leaves scatter on branches, the leaves are papery, egg-shaped or oval, 1~2.8 cm long and 0.6~1.3 cm wide, the tip is sharp or obtuse, the base is wide wedge-shaped to obtuse, the edge is serrulate, both surfaces are glabrous, the midrib, lateral veins, and reticular veins are slender, flat on the leaf surface and protruding on the back surface; Petiole is extremely short, about 1 mm long. 1~2 flowers grow in the axils of the current year's branches, drooping, and their pedicels are 2.5~3.5 mm long, coming from between 2 scaly bracts, glabrous; Bracteoles are not seen; Calyx tube is glabrous, the mouth is nearly undivided, the margin is undulated or nearly entire, glabrous; Corolla is pale green with reddish halo, globose altar, 4~6 mm long, 4~5 lobed, lobes are reflexed; 8~10 stamens, filaments are extremely short, glabrous, gradually widening towards the base, with the 2-drill like a spur on the back of the medicine chamber. The berry is spherical, 6~10 mm in diameter, blue-black when ripe, and covered with off-white powder cream. The flowering period is in June and fruiting in September.

 Vaccinium myrtillus.:growing plant Ecological environment: The plant grows in northern Xinjiang, in the larch-spruce forest at an altitude of 2,200~2,500 meters, often in pieces. It is also distributed in most of Europe and northern Asia, from Altai to Kamchatka via Lake Baikal. The fruit is sweet and sour.

 Growth characteristics: The plant grows at the area of altitude 2,200~2,500 meters above sea level, in larch spruce or pine mixed raw coniferous forest, prefer moisture acid soil, commonly grown into pieces.

(2).Vaccinium hirtum Thunb.

 Vaccinium hirtum Thunb:fruiting plant Botanical description: Vaccinium myrtillus is a deciduous shrub, the stems are much-branched, the young branches are pale yellow, grooved, white pubescent, and the old branches are glabrous. Many leaves grow on scattered branches, leaves are papery, egg-shaped or oval, 3~6.5 cm long and 1.3~3 cm wide, with sharp or tapered tips, wedge-shaped base, and wide wedge-shaped to slightly obtuse edges, white pubescence grows on both sides when young, slender midrib and lateral veins, slightly visible on the surface and slightly raised on the back; Petiole is 1~2 mm long, sparsely pilose. Flowers are not seen. 1~3 berries grow in the axils of the top leaves of last year's branches. The fruit stalks are 6~8 mm long, glabrous, and jointed with the fruit; Fruit is red, oblong, 5-ribbed, and glabrous when ripe; Persistent calyx with 5 teeth, calyx teeth are triangular or semicircular, 2~3 mm long, basal is commissure, glabrous. The fruiting period is in September.

 Ecological environment: Vaccinium myrtillus distributes in the north of China, and grow on the top of the mountain. It is also distributed in other northeast areas of Asia, and North America.

 Differences from Blueberry: Bilberry is often confounded with Blueberry, these are two species belonging to the same family, and plants and fruits are also different.

 Bilberry fruit is smaller than blueberries, but the taste was more intense, the color of bilberry fruit is deeper than blueberry and normally dark, blackish-purple; bilberry pulp color is green, while the European blueberry pulp color is red or purple, when the consumption of bilberry fruit, eaters fingers, lips easily be dyed, so some European dentists used its red sap demonstrate to children how to properly brush your teeth because the teeth are not brushed stain will happen to the place.

 Blueberry fruit grows in clusters, and Bilberry fruit often grows solitary or opposite, the fruit is more soft and juicy than blueberries, so not easy to transport, and fruit prices are often higher. Frozen Bilberry can save throughout the year.

 Vaccinium myrtillus.:bilberry fruits Characters of herbs: The leaves and fruit of bilberry are collected in the wild from July to August and dried in the shade.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.Anthocyanins may help to maintain the integrity and stability of collagen capillaries; ②.Promote blood vessel expansion and flexibility; ③.improving oxygen and blood transportability to the eye; ④.Platelet Effects; ⑤.Antioxidation,Anti-cancer effects; ⑥.Anti-viral; etc.

 The herb bilberry was studied for its efficacy on infectious diarrhea and indigestion, for its astringent, antiseptic, and absorptive actions, control of vomiting, Its component anthocyanoides could boost oxygen and blood supply to the eye, thus it is useful to improve visual acuity, help correct day blindness or chronic eye fatigue, protect other eye disorders such as glaucoma and cataracts. Bilberry was found also help prevent fragile capillaries and decrease the permeability of blood vessels, other findings propose the herb bilberry and its anthocyanosides help protect against or effectively treat edema, liver cell damage as an antioxidant, inflammation, and high blood sugar which is important for diabetics, angina for chest pain, blood clots and atherosclerosis by counteracting excessive platelet aggregation, and painful menstrual periods by relaxing smooth muscles. Leaf preparations effectively lowered blood cholesterol levels in one study.

 Studies in Europe found the herb bilberry fruit has ophthalmic, wound healing, anti-ulcer, anti-atherosclerotic, and vasoprotective activities, its component anthocyanins could inhibit platelet aggregation, and its leaf preparations have been found hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic activity, antibacterial activity against several bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Bilberry was also found to have antineoplastic effects, antioxidant effects, antiulcer effects, microvascular integrity effects, platelet aggregation effects, and wound-healing effects.

 Medicinal efficacy: Traditionally, bilberry was used by Europeans as a tea for the treatment of simple diarrhea, a decoction of dried berries is used for gum disease, sore throat, other inflammation of the mouth and throat, and urinary tract infections, after World War II (Second World War), it was used by pilots to relieve night missions, improve visual activity, then it was applied for other eye complaints including cataracts and glaucoma, today herbalists recommend bilberry also for diabetes, peptic ulcers, painful menstrual periods, vascular disorders such as varicose veins. Its other folk remedy use is for the prevention and treatment of diabetes, complaints of the gastrointestinal tract, kidney and urinary tract, and arthritis, gout, and dermatitis internally, externally for inflammation of the oral mucosa, eye inflammation, burns and skin diseases. It is approved for diarrhea, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, etc.

 In TCM books, the herb bilberry leaf is recorded to function in detoxification, and remove dampness through diuresis, it is indicated for stranguria, and gout. The herb bilberry fruit is recorded functions to relieve diarrhea, it is indicated for diarrhea and dysentery, enteritis.

 Administration of Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus): 
Reference: Administration Guide of Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Herbal classic books and TCM Books: In North America, bilberry is recommended at dosages: dried bilberries are chewed in dosages of 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls, along with some fluid. Two 500 milligram capsules are taken two times a day. In Europe, the fruit is recommended at 20~60 grams for internal use, and a 10% infusion is recommended for external use. Infusion is advised to use 5~10 grams of the mashed herb in cold water to prepare, bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, then strain, a 10% decoction is prepared for external use. Commercially available tablets and capsules that are standardized to 36% anthocyanosides is recommended 60 to 160 mg three times daily. There is no reliable dosage for bilberry leaf. In TCM, bilberry leaf is recommended internally as water decoction, 3~9 grams, and bilberry fruit is recommended internally as water decoction, 3~9 grams.
 Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions: The herb bilberry is safe in typically recommended amounts. However, toxic reactions can develop with prolonged use or high doses of the leaves, in animal experiments, wasting, anemia, other complications, and some fatalities have occurred. The herb should not be used during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.

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