Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) is one of the richest natural sources of anthocyanins. These polyphenolic components give bilberry its blue/black color and high antioxidant content. Anthocyanins are believed to be the key bioactive responsible for the many reported health benefits of bilberry and other berry fruits.
Clinical studies show that bilberry is effective for retinopathy and has some evidence for degenerative retinal conditions. Although bilberry is promoted most commonly for improving vision, it has been reported to lower blood glucose, to have anti-inflammatory and lipid-lowering effects, and to promote antioxidant defense and lower oxidative stress. Other suggested applications include chest pain (angina), hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), circulatory problems, diarrhea, mouth/throat inflammation (topical), and varicose veins.
Bilberry is of potential value for the prevention of conditions associated with inflammation, dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia or increased oxidative stress, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, diabetes, and dementia and other age-related diseases. There are also reports that bilberry has antimicrobial activity.
Bilberry has also other names: airelle, black whortles, burren myrtle, dyeberry, huckleberry, hurtleberry, myrtilli fructus, trackleberry, Vaccinium myrtillus, whortleberry, and wineberry. However, it should not be confused with the North American blueberries, although the species are closely related and belong to the same genus, Vaccinium. Bilberry are non-climacteric fruits with a smooth, circular outline at the end opposite the stalk, whereas blueberries retain persistent sepals there, leaving a rough, star-shaped pattern of five flaps. Bilberries grow singly or in pairs rather than in clusters, like blueberries do, and blueberries have more evergreen leaves. Bilberries are dark in colour, and usually appear near black with a slight shade of purple due to the much higher content of anthocyanins compared to blueberries.
Eevia Health extracts the anthocyanins in various concentrations, the highest being a 36% concentration of anthocyanin.