Blueberry – Properties and medicinal uses

As a great medicinal fruit, blueberry is used to treat a number of disorders. It is particularly known to prevent and treat cystitis. Before we look at its therapeutic and healing properties, lets take a look on the fruit as a whole.
Botanical name: Vaccinium myrtillus L.
Other names: Late sweet blueberry, Highbush blueberry, Lowbush blueberry
Close species: Bilberry, Cranberry, Cowberry
Spanish name: Aràndano
French name: Airelle

Blueberry is the fruit of any of the plants of the genus Vaccinium. The plants reaches a height of about 25-50 cm, they are deciduous and small, and of the family Ericaceae.
Long time ago, the blueberries were considered insignificant, and were used mainly to garnish other foods. Not until within this decade where series of investigations carried out on it showed how important it is medicinally to the body.

Properties of Blueberry

The contents of blueberry is divided into nutritive and non-nutritive component. The nutritive component contains:
* Carbohydrates most of which is fructose, representing about 11.4% of its total content.
* Very little protein and fat content
* Significant amounts of mineral, among which potassium stands out
* Reasonable amounts of vitamins, among which vitamin A stands out.

On the other hand, they contain a great combination of non-nutritive substances, which are responsible of blueberries medicinal properties, such as acting as an astringent and an antiseptic. Some of these substances include organic acids, anthocyanins, tannin, and glucoside pigment (myrtilin)

Medicinal uses of Blueberry

The above properties of blueberries makes them indicated in the following cases:

* Urinary infections – Over the recent years, investigations carried out have shown that both blueberries and cranberries have a remarkable antibiotic and antiseptic effects on the germs that cause infections. Using blueberries and cranberries to treat lower urinary tract infections is of more advantage that the use of antibiotics. This is because:
– The consumption of blueberries or cranberries prevent the persistent stay of bacteria on the cells that line the interior of the urinary tract. This effect is not experienced if treatment is done with antibiotics, the bacteria partially goes away and resurfaces later on. This explains the reason behind the frequent reinfections of these urinary tract disorders if treatment is based on antibiotics.
– Treatment with antibiotics makes the bacteria develops resistance to it with time, but this is not the case with the use of blueberries or cranberries.
Using cranberry or blueberry juice for treatment is simple. For chronic cystitis, drinking a glass of cranberry juice daily will be of great benefit, and this benefit is usually noticed in a few days. And for those with a recurring cystitis, the consumption of a glass of cranberry juice daily will considerably lower the frequency of its occurrence.

* Circulatory disorders – The anthocyanin content of blueberry makes them of great benefit to the circulatory system. Due to this substance, blueberries help protect the walls of the capillaries and veins. They also help reduce inflammation and swelling in the tissues. This makes their regular consumption recommended in the following cases:
– Varicose ulcers
– Varicose veins
– Phlebitis
– Swollen lower extremities
– Hemorrhoids.

* Kidney stones – The consumption of cranberry juice can help dissolve calcium phosphate calculi (stones that cause kidney stones). Moreover, blueberries and cranberries contains quinic acid. Quinic acid acidifies the urine and helps prevent the formation of the same calcium phosphate calculi stated above.

* Loss of vision – The same anthocyanin present in blueberries and cranberries that helps protect the walls of the capillaries and veins, also helps improve visual acuity and retinal function.

* Infectious diarrhea – The astringent effect of the tannins present in blueberries, coupled with its antimicrobial action, helps relieve infectious diarrhea. They also help stop the reproduction of Escherichia coli, a common intestinal germ. Blueberries and cranberries are also particularly indicated in cases of flatulence (excess intestinal gas), and disbacteriosis, which is the disturbance of the important bacteria present in the intestine mainly due to the use of antibiotics.

* Other disorder – Apart from the disorders mentioned above, the consumption of cranberries and blueberries is highly recommended in cases of:
– Hypertension
– Arteriosclerosis and
Retinal disorders.

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By Abbati

Abbati studied Biological sciences at Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He loves learning about the medicinal properties of foods, and the need to explore them!

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