Every Herb Has a Story: Bilberry for Eyes

http://www.motherearthliving.com/Natural-Health/every-herb-has-a-story-bilberry-for-eyes.aspx

R.BureshRandy Buresh (Registered Nurse and Herbalist), is the co-owner and founder of Oregon’s Wild Harvest. Oregon’s Wild Harvest grows, harvests and produces their own medicinal herbal products, many of which use the herbs grown on their certified Biodynamic® and Organic farm in Sandy, Oregon. www.oregonswildharvest.com.

Every herb has a story, and that of bilberry reaches a climax during World War II.

It was during World War II that British Royal Air Force pilots were eating bilberry jam and noticed something afterward: their night vision was sharper than usual whenever they ate the jam before starting their nighttime missions. They credited the improvement in vision to the bilberry jam.

Of course, bilberry had been around a long time before WWII. Bilberry has been used as a medicinal herb since the 16th century, but it was after the Royal Air Force pilots’ discovery that this plant acquired its present reputation as a superberry linked to good eye health.

Recent clinical research confirms that ingesting bilberries improves visual acuity in healthy people, provides nutritional support for the blood vessels of the eyes and helps maintain normal eye health. 

7-11-11 bilberry
Bilberries are full of antioxidants that can greatly benefit eyesight.
Photo by Timo_w2s/Courtesy
Flickr 

Bilberry's "Super Powers" 

What makes bilberry so powerful? The awesome “secret ingredients” in bilberry are compounds called anthocyanididins, which strengthen blood vessels and improve circulation. Circulation to the vessels in the eye, and in particular the macula, is critical as we age. Without healthy circulation to this region, the macula degenerates and eventually leads to blindness. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over 50. Bilberries aid the eyes by boosting the production of a pigment that helps the eyes adapt to lighting changes. These anthocyanidins have amazing properties. They provide 50 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E and 10 times the antioxidant power of vitamin C. Due to these high antioxidant levels, capillary walls are kept strong and flexible. And bilberry contains vitamins A and C, boosting its antioxidant power and helping to prevent free radical damage to the eyes.

Some people enjoy bilberry as fresh berries, which they often add to desserts, or as a tea. But to consume the amount most beneficial for eye protection, you need a large quantity of berries or tea. Bilberry supplements provide the antioxidant-rich, super-punch needed to promote and maintain optimal eye health. 

You can experience the visual sharpness first discovered by the RAF pilots—and protect your eyes from age-related eye disorders with a healthy diet of leafy green vegetables and regular bilberry supplements. We’re each given just one set of eyes. Naturally, we want to protect them in every way we can.