Blueberry/Bilberry (Vaccinium spp.)

Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.)

Other common namesVaccinium corymbosum (North America’s most common blueberry variety), Vaccinium myrtillus (known in Europe as bilberry) and other species under the same common names, whortleberry, high bush blueberry, low bush blueberry.

* The closely related blueberry and bilberry species (and a number of others that are given the same common names) in the Vaccinium genus share almost all of the same medicinal uses, so I will not be covering them separately.

The following information may not be re-posted, copied or published without my permission and appropriate credit given. Please contact me via email (listed on the About page) if you wish to re-publish any of the information on my blog.

Family: Ericaceae

Actions:

blueberry

Photo courtesy of Gordana Adamovic-Mladenovic / Wikimedia Commons

Antioxidant, astringent, tonic for the eyes, anti-cancer, nutritive, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antilithic,

Harvest:

Berries are best taken from a plant that is at least 3 years old. They usually ripen in summer.

Part used: Leaves, berries.

Constituents:

Tannins, quinic acid, anthocyanins, pectin, proanthocyanidins, flavanols, bioflavonoids, vitamins and minerals, polyphenols, catechin and others.

Indications:

Used to treat diarrhea, nutritional deficiency, macular degeneration, glaucoma and other eye conditions, MS, neurological disorders, degenerative disorders, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, cancer (do not use while undergoing treatments unless cleared to do so by a doctor), tumours, cold and flu symptoms, sore throat, viral and bacterial infections, recovery following a miscarriage, or to assist labour (with the guidance of a qualified practitioner), improve cardiovascular health and relieve urinary tract infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, high cholesterol, preventing/dissolving kidney stones and weight management.

Medicinal preparations:

Internal

The berries can be made into both culinary and medicinal preparations (or, both in one). Blueberry cough syrups make for a palatable alternative for children with cold and flu symptoms. The berries may also be dried, powdered and encapsulated for supplemental use. This is particularly helpful for chronic and severe conditions (such as MS, chronic pain or macular degeneration, which it can greatly improve and stop from progressing further), where a higher dose is required. Both the leaves and berries can be made into tea (leaves via infusion, berries by decoction) or tincture (but the alcohol percentage would need to be quite high to extract from the berries).

External

Try crushing fresh berries and applying them topically as a poultice to treat wounds or skin irritations, or adding them to base ingredients to make cosmetic products (be sure to keep refrigerated if using fresh berries). Use the leaves for making a wash, or to stop bleeding.

Contraindications:

Contact a physician before using the leaves or the berries in therapeutic doses if you are pregnant or nursing (it is ok to eat the berries in moderation as a food item during most pregnancies).  In diabetics, this plant may cause blood sugar to lower, so use caution if taking medications to regulate it. Diabetics should also stop taking blueberry supplements two weeks prior to undergoing surgery, as it can make blood-sugar regulation during the operation more unpredictable. Consult with a doctor before using to dissolve/expel kidney stones or gallstones, to ensure that the stones are not too large to pass safely.

I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns. 

Energetic/traditional use:

This herb has been used for protective rites, and diverting an enemy’s focus.  It is energetically affiliated with the kidneys, so it fits that it is also used for cleansing and purification. In addition to its benefits for the physical eyes, it is reputed to boost sight from the third eye as well, and improve psychic ability.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.

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