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Blueberry BLUEBERRY  
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Blue Violet Leaf  |  Boldo

Botanical:   Vaccinium corymbosum
Family:   Ericaceae (berry)
Other Common Names:  American Blueberry, Highbush Blueberry

Join the good health brigade with Blueberry!  Startling new developments have placed Blueberry at the top of the health list to soak up free radicals and combat carcinogens.  Blueberry also supports healthy blood sugar levels, healthy cardiac function and is packed with valuable nutrients and vitamins. The anthocyanins in Blueberry are beneficial for helping to combat age-related memory loss and Alzheimer's disease.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

History:
Blueberry is a sweet, aromatic, edible berry that is indigenous to North America and is now widely distributed throughout the world.  Botanists estimate that Blueberries have been around for more than thirteen thousand years. There are about twenty-five native species of this heath shrub that vary in height from two feet to twenty feet, and one single bush can produce as many as six thousand blueberries a year.  The High Bush, larger species (Vaccinium corymbosum) is cultivated, and the smaller-species Low Bush (Vaccinium angustifolium) dotes on sandy or rocky, acid soil and is quite hardy with a wide range. The leaves can be either evergreen or deciduous, ovate to lanceolate, and the flowers are bell-shaped, white, pale pink or red.  The bush produces a fruit, which is a berry with a flared "crown" (a perfect five-pointed star) at the end, and at first the berries are pale greenish, then reddish-purple, and finally a deep indigo when ripe.  When mature, blueberries have a sweet taste with varying acidity.  Blueberry bushes typically bear fruit from May through October, with the season peaking in July, which is National Blueberry Month in the United States, and August, which is National Blueberry Month in Canada.  They are sometimes called huckleberries, a misnomer, because of their resemblance to that closely related genus.  Blueberry is a highly valued commercial crop, and one of the most important Blueberry-growing states is New Jersey (it is the official State Fruit of New Jersey).  Although commercially produced in thirty-eight states, six states account for more than ninety percent of the highbush crop: Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, North Carolina, Georgia and Washington.  British Columbia is the primary highbush Blueberry producer in Canada. Lowbush Blueberries, used primarily in food processing, are grown in Maine and Eastern Canada. By the time Europeans arrived in North America, Native Americans were already using Blueberries year round through wise preservation techniques; they were dried in the sun, then added whole to soups, stews and meat or crushed into a powder and rubbed into meat as a preservative.  It is said that Native Americans gave Blueberries to the new settlers, helping them make it through their first winter, and we know that the early settlers in America used the Blueberry widely for both medicine and food.  South American Indians have used the Blueberry to quell fevers of all types, and primitive jungle healers have used it extensively as a cure for diarrhea and dysentery. Nutritious Blueberry is packed with the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, as well as vitamin K and B-vitamins, fiber, folic acid, tannins, high levels of iron, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, calcium, copper, plus alanine, arginine, leucine, phenylalanine, lysine, limonene, linaol, bioflavonoids (rutin, quercetin, quercitrin) thymol, vanillin, P-coumaric acids,ferulic, gallic, chlorogenic, caffeic and rosmarinic acids and tryptophan. Blueberries also contain the very active and potent Resveratrol, flavonols, anthocyanins and other antioxidant pigments and phytochemicals that may play a role in reducing risks of some diseases.

Beneficial Uses:
Great news:  The United States Department of Agriculture researchers have found that Blueberry topped the list of fruits and vegetables that soak up free radicals that attack our healthy cells. Blueberry contains terpenes that are thought to help shut down carcinogens, and the tannins in Blueberry appear to inhibit carcinogens from binding to their targets. According to USDA research chemist, Ronald Prior, PhD., Blueberries are chock-full of anthocyanins that can inhibit tumors from forming and suppress their growth.

Researchers from Rutgers University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggest that a compound found in Blueberries may be helpful for preventing bowel cancer, and that key ingredient, an antioxidant called pterostilbene, could be put into a supplementl.  Similar antioxidants have already been identified in grapes, cranberries and red wine and can be good for lowering blood cholesterol too. In the studies, the Blueberry compound also reduced inflammation and the rate of cell division in the bowel, which are both considered to be cancer risk factors. Since Blueberries contain caffeic acid, catechin, chlorogenic acid, epicatechin, ferulic acid, gallic acid, kaempferol, myricetin, naringenin, p-coumaric acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, pterostilbene, resveratrol, quercetin and ursolic acid - most of which have been reported to have anti-cancer properties - they are highly recommended in cases of breast cancer.

Blueberry is called one of Nature's most powerful antioxidants. Based on data from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Ageing (Boston, MA), Blueberries are among the fruits with the highest antioxidant activity.  Its chemical compounds, including anthocyanin and phenolics, help to combat cell damage caused by harmful free radicals and cleanse the blood of toxins.  It is also thought to be useful for swollen lymph nodes.

In combating Type-2 diabetes, Blueberry promotes healthy blood sugar levels.There is a substance in Blueberry called mytrillin that may help reduce blood sugar in the way that insulin would. Diabetics should always check their blood sugar levels regularly and consult their physicians regularly.

The flavonoid, anthocyanin, and other polyphenols, including tannins in Blueberry are believed to strengthen the capillaries in the eyes and are said to decrease eyestrain.  Other supporting in vivo research (2010) has indicated that these (and other) antioxidants in Blueberry help to improve overall blood vessel health, which may also contribute to healthy capillaries in eyes.

Good cardiovascular health is also promoted with Blueberry. It appears to reduce bad cholesterol and high blood pressure and, thereby, possibly diminish the risk of heart ailments and stroke.  Supporting this earlier claim, 2010 research from the University of Maine, University of Louisville and Northwestern University showed that Blueberry was associated with significant increase in aortic vascular tone in animal models. The berries were proposed to act via the nitric oxide pathway. Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator that promotes the dilation or relaxation of blood vessels, thereby easing blood pressure. In 2012, scientists from the Chinese Universiy of Hong Kong found that dietary supplementation of Blueberry anthocyanins for six weeks decreased plasma total cholesterol concentration by 6-12% in a dose dependent manner, and in 2013, research from Harvard University found that three or more servings of Blueberries and Strawberries per week may slash a woman’s risk of a heart attack by as much as 33%. 2014 research from North Carolina’s Appalachian State University found that six weeks of daily ingestion of whole Blueberry powder increased Natural Killer (NK) cell counts and reduced aortic systolic blood pressure, diastolic pressure and arterial stiffness) in sedentary males and females.

Blueberry is said to support good urinary tract health and appears to reduce the occurrence of bladder and kidney infections. As an astringent, the tannins in Blueberry have also been used to treat diarrhea in herbal remedies.

The antioxidant properties in Blueberry offer great promise in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and age-related mental degeneration.  According to a medical release, Blueberry is one of the nine 'superfoods' that help to improve brain function.  “Brainberries” is the term that Steven Pratt, M.D., uses to described these tasty fruits.  Pratt, who is also on staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, says that in animal studies researchers have found that Blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.  Studies have also shown that diets rich in Blueberry significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of ageing rats, making them mentally equivalent to those much younger. In 2012, Harvard Medical School weighed in on the subject reporting that an analysis of long-term data covering over 122,000 women indicated that regular consumption of Blueberries and Strawberries can delay age-related mental debilitation and slow the progression of cognitive decline.

In a statement published in the March, 2008, Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers from Florida State University and Oklahoma State University claimed that in animal studies, an increased intake of Blueberries can prevent the weakening of bones that occurs after the menopause, and that if translated to human consumption, it could see the berry's health benefits being extended beyond those already reported in the literature including lowering cholesterol and protecting against cancers and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

Contraindications:
Currently, there are no warnings or contraindications with the use of Blueberry Herbal Supplement.  However, coumarins in Blueberry may increase bloodthinning activity and inhibit platelet activity.

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