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Helpful herbs

MagazineJune 2003 (Vol. 14 Issue 3)Helpful herbs

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), a type of blueberry, contains active flavonoid compounds known as anthocyanosides, which act as antioxidants in the retina of the eye

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), a type of blueberry, contains active flavonoid compounds known as anthocyanosides, which act as antioxidants in the retina of the eye. Over-the-counter bilberry supplements are usually standardised to 25 per cent anthocyanidins, but you may also benefit from a range of other bilberry preparations. In WWII British folklore, for example, RAF pilots used to eat bilberrry jam to improve their vision.

Later studies show that bilberries do indeed improve vision (Minerva Oftalmol, 1979; 21: 283-5; Ann Ottalmol Clin Ocul, 1966; 92: 595-607), protect against cataracts (Ann Ottalmol Clin Ocul, 1989; 115: 109), improve blood flow throughout the tiniest vessels in the body (Gazz Med Ital, 1980; 139: 485-91; Minerva Cardioangiol, 1978; 25: 255-76) and may reduce inflammation.

Try taking 480-600 mg per day of an extract standardised to 25 per cent anthocyanosides, in capsules or tablets.

Ginkgo biloba may help treat early-stage macular degeneration (Presse Med, 1986; 15: 1556-8), although published studies are few and far between. Many healthcare professionals recommend 120-240 mg/day of a standardised extract (24 per cent Ginkgo flavone glycosides and 6 per cent terpene lactones) in capsules or tablets.


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