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Old 12-05-2009, 08:59 PM
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Thumbs up Bilberry for Vision

Bilberry for Vision: A Little Known Berry Offers Eyes Powerful Protection

Protect your eyes and more with this blood vessel protective berry.

By Gale Maleskey, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian

May 21, 2009

During World War II, British Royal Air Force pilots swore by the bilberry, a cousin of the blueberry, to keep their eyes sharp. They would eat a good dose of bilberry jam just prior to a nighttime bombing mission. They thought it improved their vision, often dramatically, and improved their accuracy on bombing missions.

Subsequent studies have shown that bilberry contains active ingredients known as anthocyanosides. These substances protect the retina of the eye by strengthening the walls of blood vessels and reducing inflammation. Many problems in the retina start with inflamed, leaky capillaries. Fluid seeps out of capillaries and damages cells in the retina. In fact, retinal damage, including macular degeneration, is one of the most common causes of blindness in older people.

Studies have shown just how helpful bilberry can be to eyes. Bilberry extract has been shown to help stop retinal damage caused by diabetes or high blood pressure (Ann Ottalmol Clin Ocul. 1987;113:1173-7), improve night vision (Altern Med Rev. 2000;5(2):164-173) and may inhibit or reverse eye disorders such as cataracts and glaucoma. (Altern Med Rev. 2001;6(2):141-166.)

The active ingredients in bilberry are similar to proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs) found in grape seed. For that reason, bilberry has been recommended for many of the same therapeutic uses as OPCs. These include treatment of easy bruising, varicose veins, minor injuries and for surgery support. (Research shows it can even help hemorrhoids!)

If you decide to supplement with bilberry, be sure to use an extract standardized to contain at least 25% anthocyanosides. Bilberry works especially well with other blood vessel-protecting nutrients, such as grape seed extract, alpha lipoic acid and gingko.

The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Taking good care of your eyes is imperative if you want to maintain a high quality of life as you age. Age-related vision loss affects over 30 million Americans over the age of 40, but as more and more research is showing, you can avoid it by being proactive! Numerous studies show that vision loss can largely be prevented with antioxidants such as those found in bilberry.

"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanual Kant~

NatMedTalk and Beyond
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Old 08-07-2010, 03:02 AM
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Add this:

I read your article about cataracts and thought I'd tell you about my wife who was told that she had cataracts in both eyes by Vision Express. She was then advised that taking blueberries was good for the eyes. She started taking blueberries and pure blueberry juice daily and, after a year, returned to Vision Express and was told she no longer had cataracts
- Ted Burke, Kent ('Letters to the Editor', Mature Times 2009)
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:03 AM
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There might be some truth to the bilberry thing, but then again, when the allies developed the norton (sp?) bomb site in WW2, the Intel agencies spread a rumor about british pilots eyesite improving after eating bilberry jam to try and keep the nazis in the dark.

Anyway, at whole foods and some other health food stores, there is an italian barand called bionature and they have a bilberry jam.
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Old 08-14-2010, 03:13 AM
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Here's another excellent piece on bilberries - with the recipe for bilberry jam!

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Old 09-16-2010, 12:54 PM
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Bilberry is an amazing nutrient. You should add all berries to your diet. Bilberry needs to be taken in supplement because it is not sold fresh in the supermarkets. Blueberries and other dark colored berries are also good.

The amount needed to consume for therapeutic quantities might be too much to take in jam form due to the amount of sugar. But jam is better than no bilberry.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:36 AM
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This is an old post but I find it interesting. Thanks Kind2creatures for bringing it to my attention.

At my health food store in their herb section I saw a jar of dehydrated billberries. I think this is a very good thing. Maybe pulverize them to eat then there is no sugar issue with the jam.
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Old 01-09-2011, 05:36 AM
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The reason Bilberry, like Blueberry, protects eyesight is that the Anthocyanins they contain work as iron chelators and we see here that iron chelation protects eyes.

Oral iron chelator deferiprone protects against iron overload induced retinal degeneration
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