Blueberry (Vaccinum myrtillus, V. corymbosum, V. ashei, V. angustifolium) is a member of the Ericaceae (Heath) Family, and relative of cranberries. The genus name, Vaccinium is derived from the Latin, vacca, meaning cow, who relish this plant.
Blueberries are considered alterative, anti-emetic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, diuretic, kidney yin tonic, and urinary antiseptic. Large amounts of the berries are laxative, though small amounts treat diarrhea.
Blueberries improve circulation to the brain and extremities. They help prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall, and are used to prevent and treat urinary tract infections. They cool and cleanse the kidneys and liver. Blueberries contain pectin, which helps prevent the buildup of plaque in the blood and binds with cholesterol, lowering its levels. It is believed that the pigment, anthocyanadin in blueberries interacts with the collagen of both large and tiny blood vessels, making their walls stronger and helping deter fragile capillaries and varicose veins. Blueberries reduce blood platelet aggregation, meaning they help prevent the blood from clumping together. Blueberries contain a substance called myrtillin, which lowers blood sugar levels and for that reason are considered beneficial against diabetes.
Blueberry increases circulation to the eyes and helps in a wide range of eye diseases. During World War II, British Royal Air Force pilots ate European bilberry (variety of blueberry) jam before night missions to improve their sight. Blueberries and bilberries treat eye weakness, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, myopia, and night blindness. The berries are especially helpful to those who use their eyes a lot, such as computer workers, drivers, pilots, sports professionals and air traffic controllers.
Blueberries have long been used to improve anemia, arthritis, dry skin, dysentery, E. coli, hemorrhoids, dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps), fevers, gout, intestinal flu, joint inflammation, mouth sores, obesity, ulcers, and worms.
Blueberries contain beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron, and potassium. They are rich in silicon, which is believed to help regenerate the pancreas. Blueberries can make one's stools darker, which is harmless.
Blueberries are sour, astringent, cold, and moist. Look for firm, plump berries. They are wonderful plain, added to pies, tarts, and jam, cobblers, muffins, breads, ice cream, yogurt and blueberry soup.