Bilberry/Huckleberry - Vaccinium spp. (in the Ericaceae or Heath family)
Part used: Leaves and berries.
Taste/smell: The leaves are astringent and the berries are sweet and tart.
Dosage: Decoction: 1 tablespoon of the leaves per cup of water; or 1:1 fresh plant liquid extract of the leaves and berries: 20-40 drops 1-4 times per day in a little water.
The berries can be eaten freely.
Use: The berries, and to a lesser degree the leaves, are used for diabetes and hyperlipidemia. They are also used for circulatory problems, including varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peripheral vascular insufficiency and easy bruising. The circulatory actions are thought to be due to bilberry's ability to strengthen capillary walls and reduce capillary leakage by supporting crosslinkage of collagen and inhibiting collagenase and elastase. It also enhances microcirculation by supporting capillary walls, inhibiting platelet aggregation and acting as an antioxidant.
The berries are used to prevent cataracts, retinopathy, macular degeneration, myopia, eyestrain and night blindness. Bilberry/huckleberry/blueberry may be useful in diarrhea.
Contraindications: Large doses of the leaves may cause gastric irritation due to the tannin content.