Blueberry

Blueberry  Crew

Vaccinium corymbosum and Friends
ERICACEAE FAMILY

Instead of focusing on a single berry, I’m going to be looking at a specific Genus that has several species of berries in it!  We are talking about the Vaccinium Crew and it rolls deep – Cranberry (V. macrocarpon), Blueberry (V. corymbosum) and Bilberry (V. myrtillus) all are members of this botanical Genus.

While each Vaccinium has its own speciality, they hold similar properties and in general we use them in very similar ways – as a superb anti-inflammatory, to support the vasculature, and to prevent or heal from infection.  Please check out our detailed “Berry Bliss” Materia Medica which has a Blueberry entry along side several other blissful berries like Goji and Schisandra.  And if you’d like to view the Free School Class we taught on this, please visit the Herbalista Toolkit.

DESCRIPTIONS

  • Blueberry: Native to North America. Low-growing, perennial shrub with green oval shaped leaves. Blueberries tend to hold onto their leaves through the winter. White, bell shaped flowers grow in clusters and mature to a beautiful blue (hence the name).  Often cultivated.
  • Bilberry: Native to northern Europe. Low-growing, perennial shrub with pale green leaves and finely-toothed margins. Pale green-pink globular flowers grow singularly or in pairs and ripen to a very dark bluish-black color.  Bilberries grow in poor, acidic soils and due to the small sized fruit, are not typically in cultivation.  In Ireland, the traditional time to harvest the wild fruit is the final weekend of July to mark the end of summer and that Sunday is known as Fraughan Sunday.
  • Cranberry: Native to North America with a subgenus native to northern and central Europe. Small, low-growing perennial shrub or vine with evergreen leaves.  The flowers are pink, with dramatically reflexed petals and mature to a plump red fruit. 

PART USED

Berry

HARVEST

Harvest when ripe.  Use fresh for food and medicine or dry to use later.  Dry in dehydrator or low oven setting.

FLAVONOID FOCUS

  • Anthocyanins (pigment) accounts for up to 60% of the phenolic content in blueberries. 
  • Quercetin is the main flavanoid of Bilberries, accounting for up to 50%
  • Cranberries – 10 times the amount of anthocyanins were found in the skin than the pulp, highlighting the importance of whole plant medicine– eat it!

ENERGETICS: sweet, sour, cooling

ACTIONS: astringent, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, nutritive, antioxidant,  

SYSTEMS: cardiovascular, neurovascular, epithelial tissue, urinary, eyes

INDICATIONS

  • Bilberry: macular degeneration, systemic inflammation, diabetes, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, atherosclerosis
  • Blueberry: systemic inflammation, diabetes, high cholesterol, dardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension
  • Cranberry: urinary tract infections, systemic inflammation, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension

PREPARATION + DOSAGE (INTERNAL)

The best way to consume these fruits is as a FOOD.  However, all three of the vacciniums we have highlighted here are also used in herbal medicinal preparations.  Here are a few of our own recipes.

PAIRINGS (INTERNAL)

  • ALL: Pair with other antioxidant and flavonoid rich herbs (i.e. hawthorne, rosehip, etc)
  • Blueberry: Pair with Cinnamon to support blood sugar balance.
  • Bilberry: To support ocular health, pair with herbs such as Calendula and Goji
  • Cranberry: For UTI, pair with diuretic and antibacterial herbs (i.e. Goldenseal, Buchu, Cornsilk, etc.) 

SAFETY/ CAUTIONS

Food like and generally considered safe.