Hailing from Northern Europe, bilberry is a cousin of blueberry. While it is widely used throughout the continent, the eastern region in particular makes use of it as a food and as a supplement. Traditionally and today, this little berry was taken for eye health support and stomach health. This fruit is a true superfood, filled with antioxidants making it anti-inflammatory and a fighter against diabetes and cancer .
What makes bilberry so powerful is the anthocyanidins that it is packed so full of. These compounds are what give this berry so much of its capabilities. It even affects its color which varies between inky blue and dark purple. These compounds fight off inflammation which is useful in treating many diseases or conditions that have an inflammatory side to them.
An example would be macular degeneration or simply retina decay. Bilberry cannot be used as a cure for the condition though, since the positive effect is mild as David Kiefer, MD, in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin says. Damage won’t be reversed completely, but if bilberry is used daily to preserve eye health, minor inflammation and possibly eyesight will improve.
Interestingly, there is an old story set during World War II about a group of British Royal Air Force pilots. These pilots regularly consumed bilberry jam for tea. They began to notice better night vision. One night they bombed the enemy with overwhelming accuracy that was attributed to their enhanced night vision caused by the effects of the fruit. Their story became well-known [2,3]. Unfortunately there is no evidence, so the story has been brushed off as just a legend.
Now, bilberry also has positive effects against diabetes and cancer. In research done on diabetic mice, bilberry extract lowered blood sugar levels and raised insulin sensitivity. This means that blood sugar levels went down to a normal state and insulin was able to maintain that state. Before, insulin sensitivity was too low to react and maintain healthy blood sugar levels in the mice .
As for bilberry’s effects on cancer, it is known that bilberry extract has the ability to suppress tumor cells and initiate “cell death” where the cell destroys itself. One specific study treated breast cancer cells with bilberry extract and observed suppression of tumor cells and at higher concentrations induction of “cell death”. A little above those concentrations, the extract performed even better and played an active part in destroying the cell itself rather than watching the cell die after being induced to do so .
In conclusion, the evidence shows that bilberry is much more than just a commodity. Its use as a supplement in Europe dates back a thousand years. Through research, bilberry is shown to be beneficial for inflammation, eye health, diabetes, and cancer. Currently it is one of the top selling herbal supplements in its extract form consisting of 25% anthocyanidins. This is one of the many components in the Morning Formula of Balanced Trio. It is proven to be safe and effective.
 Bilberry. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/bilberry
 Bilberry Extract and Vision.WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/features/bilberry-extract-and-vision
 Every Herb Has a Story: Bilberry for Eyes. Mother Earth Living. http://www.motherearthliving.com/natural-health/every-herb-has-a-story-bilberry-for-eyes.aspx
 Dietary Anthocyanin-Rich Bilberry Extract Ameliorates Hyperglycemia and Insulin Sensitivity via Activation of AMP-Activated Protein Kinase in Diabetic Mice. Takikawa, M. et al. Journal of Nutrition 140.3 (2010): 527-33. Web.
 Cytotoxic Effects of Bilberry Extract on MCF7-GFP-Tubulin Breast Cancer Cells. Nguyen, Vy,et al. Journal of Medicinal Food 13.2 (2010): 278-85. Web.