People have been enjoying blueberries since prehistoric times, but the first medical use report dates back to the 16th century. During history, dried berries or blueberry leaves were recommended for treating various disorders, including scurvy (caused by vitamin C deficiency), urinary tract infections and kidney stones.
Blueberry is a low, bushy, perennial plant that grows in the forests and hinterland of northern Europe. Bushes of sweet blue-black berries can also be found in Western Asia and in the Rocky Mountains in North America. Substances with beneficial effects on health, found in mature fruit, contain anthocyanazides (from the group of flavonoids); contemporary forms for medical use contain high concentrations of these substances.
How does it work?
Anthocyanazides, strong antioxidants, which are the main active substances of blueberrie, are responsible for many beneficial effects. These substances help in the fight against unstable oxygen molecules, free radicals, which cause cell damage.
MAIN USEFUL EFFECTS: blueberry extract is a leading herbal remedy to maintain healthy eyesight and treat various eye diseases. Particularly important is the action of the blueberry on the retina (part of the eye, sensitive to the light), which helps in adjusting to watching in the dark. Its use in treating night blindness and worse vision during a strong daylight has been greatly expanded.
Blueberry strengthens small blood vessels, capillaries, and thus improves oxygen-rich blood supply; because of this properties, it could play a major role in preventing and treating degenerative retinal disease (retinopathy). In one study, 31 people took the blueberry extract every four weeks. This has led to the enrichment of the capillary network and the reduction of bleeding in the eye, especially in cases of diabetic retinopathy.
Blueberry is used in the treatment of the two leading causes of elderly vision loss: macular degeneration, progressive disorder affecting the central part of the retina; and cataract, which reduce the lens’s opacity. A study, conducted on 50 elderly male patients, showed that application of blueberry extract along with vitamin E in almost all subjects slowed the formation of cataract. It is also known that blueberry strengthens collagen (a protein that serves as the backbone of healthy connective tissue), which can help prevent and treat glaucoma, a disease caused by excessive eye pressure.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: since anthocyanazides from blueberries improve blood flow through the capillaries, but also through large blood vessels, the standardized blueberry extract can be beneficial to people with poor circulation in the limbs. It is also useful in treating enlarged veins, as well as in relieving pain and bruising in hemorrhoids – this is especially important during pregnancy because enlarged veins and hemorrhoids can then cause great difficulties. People with easy bruising can benefit from blueberries due to its impact on capillaries.
Further researches are needed, but the blueberry seems to have other beneficial effects as well. One study has shown that blueberry improves the appearance of short-sighted people; the mechanism of this action is unknown. Initial results of researches on women show that blueberry facilitates menstrual cramps because anthocyanosin relaxes smooth muscles, including the uterus. According to studies conducted on animals, anthocyanazides from blueberries can help in stomach ulcers and reduce triglyceride levels (a type of fat) in the blood.
How to take it?
DOSAGE: the usual dose of blueberry extract is 40 to 160 mg twice to three times a day. For long-term use, including the prevention of macular degeneration, fewer doses are recommended; for diabetics, the recommended doses are higher – up to 320 mg per day.
USE GUIDELINES: blueberries can be taken with another food or individually. No adverse effects were reported in pregnant women and women who breastfeed. In addition, no interactions with medications (with or without prescription) were noticed.
Possible side effects
It appears that blueberry in therapeutic doses, even during long-term use, is very safe and has no side effects.
IMPORTANT: if you are ill, consult your doctor before taking any supplements.