There are many treatments and medicines said to help relieve the symptoms of gout, but berries are not the first ones that spring to mind for most people.
Did you know that berries, specifically, bilberries can help relieve the symptoms of gouty arthritis, and prevent further problems as well?
What Is Bilberry, Exactly?
Bilberry is a low growing shrub or plant. They’re also known as ‘European blueberries’ and are thought to have a very high level of antioxidants.
The exact level is unknown but it’s on par with blueberries, and many other powerful, health berries.
It’s been used to naturally improve vision, blood circulation, and immune system function for many, many years all around the world. More recently, bilberry has been used more and more as a treatment for gout.
For good reason too!
Bilberry (and especially bilberry extract) is said to improve circulation and reduce inflammation. Gout is essentially joints swelling up, and feeling sore or stiff, so something like bilberry (which reduces inflammation and improves circulation) is the perfect natural treatment!
Traditionally, the dried leaves have been used in many types of medicine, but (as we’ll cover later) there are actually a few different ways you could use bilberry to treat gout.
Want to Hear A Funny Story?
During WW2 (world war 2), many pilots used to eat bilberry jam all the time, thinking that it would improve their night vision as they were flying. Some pilots sweared by it and attested their victories in the sky to eating this jam.
Although there was never any solid scientific evidence that eating bilberry jam improved night vision, there were many unofficial reports and stories.
It’s not completely unbelievable either, because bilberry DOES improve circulation, and a lot of retinal disorders or problems are linked to poor blood circulation!
But Here’s The Deal…
As is the case with a lot of medicine that’s maybe more ‘natural’, there tends to be little scientific evidence, but a lot of stories about it.
Perhaps this is due to the industry as a whole, where some medicines don’t make the big companies as much money, and so they don’t put funding into researching their effectiveness.
All we do know is that there are many reports of bilberry being very effective in treating gout, and the science we DO have seems to back it up as well (improved blood circulation, reduced inflammation, high antioxidant levels etc).
Bilberry is also used for the treatment of chronic fatigue (a condition where someone feels really tired all the time, to the point where their immune system starts shutting down and they can’t get anything done).
How Bilberry Helps to Treat Gout
So how does it all work?
How does bilberry actually HELP with treating gout?
Well, bilberry contains something called ‘tannins’ which have been proven to reduce inflammation.
They reduce inflammation across the whole body, and so while they can’t target a specific limb, they DO reduce overall inflammation (unlike ginger, which can treat specific limbs with gout).
They do so without the nasty side effects of most doctor-prescribed anti-inflammatories as well, and bilberry is probably a lot cheaper.
Even better, bilberry lowers your blood sugar levels as well, meaning you have a more steady stream of energy and are less likely to get diabetes.
Remember we said that bilberry improves circulation?
What’s actually doing that, is the ‘flavonoids’ in the bilberry. They help to lower blood pressure and keep everything running smoothly.
Another thing to note:
Gout is believed to stem from (or is closely linked to) obesity.
It’s said that people with obesity are more likely to suffer from gout, and berries like bilberry contain something known as ‘anthocyanins’ which are linked to reduced risk of diabetes.
To cut a long story short, bilberry helps reduce your risk of diabetes (along with other things). If you don’t have diabetes, you’re much less likely to suffer from gout.
It does this by reducing the accumulation of fat cells in your body. It also improves the blood flow to your joints, meaning you can move around more easily and are less likely to suffer from gout symptoms like stiff joints etc…
How to Take Bilberry As A Gout Treatment
A short disclaimer:
Before trying any of these treatments, and before trying bilberry, it’s recommended that you consult with your doctor, and check with him/her that bilberry won’t interfere with any other medications (for gout or anything else) that you may be taking. Sometimes herbs, supplements, and other substances can interact badly with each other in your body.
So to take bilberry as a gout treatment, you can do any of the following:
1. Take a bilberry supplement
There are several supplements including bilberry (or completely made up of bilberry) on the market today. You can take any of these and get a healthy dose of bilberry, and you should start noticing the effects after a week or two.
Some supplements are mixed with other substances though, as bilberry is not JUST used to treat gout and therefore will sometimes be added to other things, to treat other conditions.
Make sure you read the ingredients of the supplement you buy and check it doesn’t interact with something else you’re taking.
2. Include it in a fruit salad/fruit pie
Get hold of some fresh bilberries and add them to a fresh fruit salad. This is a healthy way to get bilberry into your system, and also stay healthy! You can add fresh bilberries to a fruit salad, and serve with cream.
You could also eat bilberries in a fruit pie or a hot fruit tart. You can usually add bilberries to most desserts and it will still taste lovely, so go crazy!
3. Drink the tea
The final and probably easiest way of taking bilberry is to brew a hot tea from the berries. Simply boil the berries in water and then filter the berries off. You can then drink the bilberry tea (and add honey to it if you need to sweeten it)
There are many dietary supplements that can help get rid of the pain and swelling associated with gout. But the best way to keep this disease away is to eat a balanced diet and avoid foods that contain high purines.