Bilberries are colorful deep purple edible berries, in the genus Vaccinium. They have a richer
taste then their cousin the blueberry, and the fruit’s pulp is reddish to purple, and readily exudes a reddish-purple juice. Because the berry is soft and juicy compared to the blue berry, it is difficult to pick and difficult to store. This makes the fruit a prized commodity in markets and gourmet shops where they can fetch up to 25 euro a pound.
The berry is readily available in the wild, however, and in some countries the populace is free to go anywhere to pick it, except in private gardens and nature preserves. The berry is very tasty and is made into jams, preserves or pies.
The purple pigment in Bilberries is a chemical in the anthocyonoside family, and has strong anti-oxidant effects. The pigment protects the retina of the eye by strengthening the walls of blood vessels and reducing inflammation. The billberry anthrocyonosides exert a positive effect on blood vessel walls even in such conditions as diabetes and high blood pressure.), Both conditions can normally cause increased arterial wall damage, however, studies have shown that the anthrocyonoside pigments in Bilberry can reverse this process. (Ann Ottalmol Clin Ocul. 1987;113-1173-7 Bilberry extract may also help to reverse cataracts and glaucoma. (Alt Med Rev. 2001;6(2):141-166) And there is some evidence that extracts of the berry can improve night vision. (Altern Med Rev. 2000;5(2):164-173) . The active pigments in Billberry are similar in their healing effects of proanthrocyonosides found in other purple fruits such as grape seed. Each pigment is unique and each has its own profile of positive healthy effects.
Bilberry extract is found in a number of herbal preparations. One rcent preparation to hit the market is BioVision by E-Helps. BioVision is designed to prevent age relates macular degeneration and to improve night vision and overall visual performance, and Billberry is one of six herbal compounds included in BioVision.