Bilberry for Allergies
Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment.
Allergies are extremely common in every part of the world and can affect your daily life in one way or another. The best way to prevent allergies is to avoid the triggers that cause allergic responses. But no matter how careful you are, you may accidentally get exposed to different allergens.
So, what can be done to protect yourself from allergies? The answer lies in strengthening your body’s defense mechanism, and for that, you need a nutritious diet. For those not so good at eating healthy, dietary supplements can come in handy.
One such supplement that can help you boost your defense against allergies is bilberry extract. Bilberries not only have high nutritional value but also contain different compounds that may help you fight the signs and symptoms of different allergies.
Follow the article below to learn more about bilberry and its association with allergies.
Bilberries, also known as European blueberries, are small berries native to northern regions of Europe. The word bilberry is derived from the Danish word bollebar, which translates to dark berry.
The use of bilberries as a medicinal product dates back to the Middle Ages when it was used to manage a variety of conditions, including diarrhea, poor vision, and oral health problems. Today bilberry is marketed as a dietary supplement to improve your vision and cardiac health and manage diabetes.
In terms of nutrition, bilberries are rich in carbohydrates and contain only small amounts of proteins and fats. They are a good source of vitamin C and also provide vitamin A, vitamin B1, and vitamin B3 in minute quantities. Minerals such as iron and calcium are also present in bilberries.
HOW DOES BILBERRY COMBAT ALLERGIES?
Most signs and symptoms of allergies, such as itching, swollen red eyes, and irritation of airways are mediated by inflammation resulting from the release of chemicals in response to exposure to allergens.
Bilberries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which help you limit the inflammatory reaction in response to allergens and thereby relieve symptoms of allergies.
Below is a brief description of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of bilberries that may help you build your defense against different types of allergies:
Berries are a few of those foods that contain the highest levels of antioxidants. And just like any other berry, bilberries are also rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids that are responsible for the distinctive color of berries.
These flavonoids not only provide color to bilberries but also act as potent antioxidants and protect your cells against damage caused by allergic reactions. Furthermore, these antioxidant properties of bilberries help in reducing oxidative stress and may benefit your body in various other ways as well.
Bilberries are rich in compounds known as anthocyanins, and the presence of these compounds enables your body to resist and limit inflammatory reactions in response to exposure to an allergen.
Several researches have demonstrated the capability of anthocyanins to decrease inflammatory markers in the body. This makes bilberry extract (an excellent source of anthocyanins) an effective dietary supplement that you can consume regularly to reduce inflammation within your body and ultimately fight signs and symptoms of allergies.
Apart from antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, bilberries also contain different types of vitamins and minerals which strengthen your immune system, providing you with the means of fighting allergic reactions.
Bilberry extract is considered a safe-to-use product that can be regularly consumed by anyone. However, there are a few circumstances in which you should be a little cautious regarding the consumption of bilberry supplements.
Two such common circumstances include:
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding – Although pregnant and lactating women can safely consume fresh bilberries, there is no reliable information available on whether they can consume the amount of bilberries present in medicines and supplements or not. Therefore, to stay on the safe side, pregnant and lactating women should avoid bilberry supplementation, as anything inappropriate can negatively affect the growth and development of the baby.
- Surgery – Bilberries are thought to lower blood sugar levels, and if consumed prior to the surgery, they might make it difficult to control blood sugar levels during and after the surgery. Hence, it is advised that you should stop using bilberry supplements at least two weeks before the scheduled surgery.
INTERACTIONS WITH THERAPEUTIC DRUGS
Bilberries may interfere with the mechanism of action of different drugs resulting in the inability to achieve their therapeutic effects. In some cases, these interactions may also lead to an increased risk of side effects caused by the interacting medicines.
Some of drugs medicinal drugs that interact with bilberries are:
- Antidiabetic drugs
- Anticoagulant/ Antiplatelet drugs
- Drugs metabolized by the liver
The simultaneous consumption of these drugs and bilberry supplements may cause hypoglycemia, increased risk of bruising and bleeding, and other side effects associated with these drugs.
IN A NUTSHELL
Almost everyone is allergic to one thing or another and struggles to find a way to somehow get rid of that allergy. Although there is no certain way to eliminate the root cause of allergies, you can take measures to avoid them.
One way to prevent allergies is to avoid exposure to triggers that cause allergic reactions; however, you can't always do that as the likelihood of accidental exposure to allergens is very high.
Another way to avoid allergies is to build your defense against them, and bilberry supplements can help you achieve that. Bilberries are rich in compounds that act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents and, therefore, can resist signs and symptoms of allergies (mediated by inflammation).
Bilberries also contain vitamins and minerals that boost your immune system and ultimately help you fight allergies.
It is recommended that you speak with your healthcare provider before starting bilberry supplements, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications for any underlying health conditions.