Scientific: Vaccinium myrtillus [WikiPedia]
Composition: Bilberry contains chemicals called tannins
Appearance: Bilberry is a
plant. The dried, ripe fruit and leaves are used to make medicine. The
bilberry bush is a relative of the blueberry and is native to many
areas, including the Rocky Mountains and regions of Europe and Asia.
Parts Used: Fruit and leaves
Common Uses: Bilberry
suggested uses include for chest pain (angina), hardening of the
arteries (atherosclerosis), circulatory problems, degenerative retinal
conditions, diarrhea, mouth/throat inflammation (topical), retinopathy,
and varicose veins. Clinical studies show bilberry is effective for
diarrhea and retinopathy. Bilberry is available under the following
different brand and other names: airelle, black whortles, burren myrtle,
dyeberry, huckleberry, hurtleberry, myrtilli fructus, trackleberry,
Vaccinium myrtillus, whortleberry, and wineberry. Of interest to
veterinarians is relatively new research into bilberry’s effects on
circulation. The flavonoids in bilberry have long been known to improve
circulation, presumably by reducing capillary fragility. Bilberry has
been used in humans to improve retinal blood flow and to treat
peripheral circulation disorders such as bruising and varicosities (e.g.
varicose veins). More recently, it was found that the flavonoids
strongly inhibit the formation of hemangioma (benign tumors), resulting
in a reduction of tumor size by about 50 percent in one human study.
These results suggest bilberry extract may hold promise in treating
vascular (blood vessel) tumors in dogs, such as hemangiosarcoma. An
anti-neoplastic (i.e. anti-tumor) effect against other cell types has
also been demonstrated, due in part to bilberry’s content of
anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a powerful antioxidant that play a
significant role in inhibiting tumor formation due to their ability to
reduce free radicals which might otherwise damage DNA and promote tumor
Bilberry is unlikely to be effective for progressive
retinal atrophy (PRA or deterioration of the blood vessel and nerve-rich
back of the eye) in dogs, since the problem does not arise from poor
blood flow (instead, PRA creates poor blood flow). While it hasn’t been
proven yet, bilberry may be of far more benefit for dogs in the
treatment of hemangiosarcoma (blood vessel cancer). Bilberry can be
expected to benefit any condition that would benefit from antioxidant
therapy, given bilberry’s content of potent flavonoids.
Topic Specific Research:
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and
other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe
and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any
other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.
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