Bilberry has been used in folk medicine since the sixteenth century. Modern scientists began studying bilberry after WWII when British RAF pilots noted taking the herb improved their night vision. Today, bilberry is noted for treating a wide variety of eye disorders and for maintaining healthy vision.
The bilberry plant is a short, shrubby perennial related to the blueberry. It grows in northern Europe, western Asia and in the Rocky Mountains of North America. Bilberries contain a flavonoid compound called "anthocyanosides"; which are powerful antioxidants.
Bilberry extract helps the retina adapt to light and dark, and so is often prescribed to treat night blindness and those with poor adaptation to bright light. Bilberry strengthens the capillaries in the eye and may play a role in preventing or treating eye diseases such as retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. Bilberry may also help other circulatory ailments such as varicose veins and hemorrhoids - especially during pregnancy.
Bilberry extract comes in tablet, capsule and tincture forms, but its best enjoyed as an herbal tea.