Eclectic Institute - Bilberry Herbal Extract - 1 oz. (30 ml)
Eclectic Institute Bilberry Herbal Extract drops contain dried bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus ) leaf and berry.
Parts used and where grown
A close relative of American blueberry, bilberry grows in northern Europe, Canada, and the United States. The ripe berries are primarily used in modern herbal extracts.
Historical or traditional use
The dried berries and leaves of bilberry have been recommended for a wide variety of conditions, including scurvy, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and diabetes. Perhaps the most sound historical application is the use of the dried berries to treat diarrhea. Modern research of bilberry was partly based on its use by British World War II pilots, who noticed that their night vision improved when they ate bilberry jam prior to night bombing raids.
Anthocyanosides, the flavonoid complex in bilberries, speed the regeneration of rhodopsin, the purple pigment that is used by the rods in the eye for night vision. While earlier trials suggested that taking bilberry could benefit people with night blindness, more recent trials with healthy volunteers have found no effect of bilberry on night vision. Preliminary human trials conducted in Europe show that bilberry may prevent cataracts, and may even help to treat people with mild retinopathies (such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy). Anthocyanosides are potent antioxidants. They support normal formation of connective tissue and strengthen capillaries in the body. Anthocyanosides may also improve capillary and venous blood flow. Bilberry may also prevent blood vessel thickening due to diabetes.
Bilberry protects cholesterol from oxidizing in test tubes. While this action is thought to help prevent atherosclerosis, no human trials have studied whether bilberry may be useful in the regard.
About Organic Alcohol
Eclectic chooses to utilize alcohol for their extracts that is made with certified organic sugar cane. The advantages of organic alcohol over conventional grain alcohol are; sugar cane alcohol is hypo-allergenic. Studies have shown that corn alcohol passes the allergens of corn to the spirit that is derived from corn. By using sugar cane alcohol Eclectic is able to bypass any corn allergy problems which may be aggravating the health condition.
Corn is also one of the most sprayed crops in the US. Each year millions of pounds herbicide and pesticides are sprayed on corn crops. We feel by using certified organic sugar cane for our alcohol we are offering the consumer a truly organic product as well as an environmentally sound product.
Is Organic Alcohol really an issue?
In October of 1994 there was a report released titled "Tap Water Blues". This report outlines the herbicide poisoning of several large communities along the Mississippi River. The indiscriminate use of herbicides on corn crops in the Midwest is indicated as to the cause of these poisons in drinking water.
Eclectic Institute Frequently Asked Questions
Plants have provided mankind with food and medicine since ancient times. Rich traditions have arisen on every continent involving the use of herbs for nourishing, cleansing and balancing the body, mind and spirit. Many of these traditions have been passed down and enriched with scientific understanding, and made available in the form of practical information for the maintenance of optimum health.
What about herbal quality?
Herb quality cannot be over emphasized. It is critical to effective herbal therapy that the proper plants are picked in the proper season and used fresh. High quality herbs will retain all the characteristics of the whole herb: aroma, color, taste and effect. Whenever possible the plants used should be organically grown or locally abundant herbs can be specifically wildcrafted to avoid contamination (such as with pesticides).
Many commercially available bulk herbs contain residues from agricultural chemicals, fumigation and irradiation. Organic cultivation allows the manufacturer of herbal extracts to maintain access to high quality botanical ingredients. A recent advance in herb technology and research (fresh freeze-drying) allows maintenance of the natural potency of most herbs by preserving all the biologically active constituents of the fresh plant. In many instances, improved or unique therapeutic action has resulted from the fresh freeze-drying process.
What About Herbal Extracts?
Herbal extracts have been used in many forms and strengths as galenicals, tinctures, fluid extracts, etc.: these are water and alcohol extractions made from fresh or shade-dried plants. Some extracts include the addition of a little vegetable glycerin. A few herbs are also extracted in 100% organic olive oil for external use. Herbal extracts offer the advantage of being more readily available to body than powdered herbs. These plant extracts are effective preparations which are well tolerated. They may be taken alone or in a little water or juice.
Why use herbal combinations?
An herbal combination is chosen to specifically address the entire complaint of an individual. The herbs that best address their particular symptoms are chosen over similar plants. Several plants or their extracts can work together in a balanced fashion. What one herb lacks another can provide, so that the combined action improves what can be accomplished by a single herb. Some herbs in the combination would help relieve the symptoms while others act to correct the cause of the symptoms. Though sometimes called a "shotgun" approach, combining herbs can be very effective when the goal is to resolve the cause of the problem. Otherwise, there may be no long lasting benefit.
Why is alcohol used in the making of herbal extracts?
Alcohol is second only to water as a solvent (extracting fluid) for making herbal extracts. Herbs are composed of a wide variety of chemical components to which their benefit is attributed. Some of these components are more soluble in water and some are more soluble in alcohol. This explains why the alcohol content is different from herb to herb. Resins in Myrrh or Cayenne are best extracted in alcohol and will have a higher alcohol content. Other herbs such as Marshmallow or Slippery Elm are best extracted in water.
Alcohol is not only important for extracting components of herbs, but it has the ability to preserve the extract from spoiling. Even when water is the best solvent, the extract must contain 15-30% alcohol to maintain stability and prevent spoiling. The alcohol content on labels indicates what percent of the liquid is alcohol not how much herb is in the bottle. Each ounce of an herbal extract represents the soluble components of 7.5 to 30 grams of herb no matter if the alcohol content is 25% or 85%. The concentration level is determined by the nature of each herb.
If a label states the concentration as 1:4 then each ounce represents the soluble portion of 7.5 grams of that herb. A label declaring a 1:1 concentration represents 30 grams of the soluble herb. The average daily dose of an herbal extract is 45-90 drops. Overall herbal extracts average 45% alcohol. Therefore, the average total daily consumption of alcohol is a mere 40 drops. We advise other high quality alternatives such as fresh freeze-dried encapsulated herbs when even these small amounts of alcohol are not appropriate.
What advantage in using Organic Alchohol?
Since alcohol is indispensable for making high quality herbal extracts, more emphasis should be placed on the kind of alcohol used to make them. Commercial grain alcohol is made with corn.
Most of this country's total annual agricultural chemicals go toward the cultivation of corn. These agricultural chemicals are a serious and persistent threat to the air, soil and ground water which support all life forms. Do you want the alcohol in your herbal extract to contribute to the further pollution of our planet?
What about "Glycerins" or "Alcohol free" extracts?
Until recently, the production of glycerite (Alcohol free extracts) met with limited success. Several innovations have helped to alleviate these short comings. Glycerites can be extracted directly with glycerin in some instances but traditional knowledge recommends alcohol extraction initially and then removal of the alcohol under vacuum. The Eclectic Medical period (1854-1937) provided clinical successes using this method with equipment developed by John Uri Lloyd. The Lloyd Extractor, a pharmaceutical cold still is described in the Remmington Practice of Pharmacy. In addition, the stability of some glycerite extractions is enhanced by a lower pH and therefore ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) should be added to sensitive botanicals (i.e.. Echinacea).
Flavoring of glycerites is enhanced by the inherent sweetness of glycerin. Natural flavoring of raspberry or orange can augment the compliance and increase the biological effectiveness in people adverse to the taste of alcoholic extracts.
What about alcohol made from corn?
If you have food sensitivities or allergies to corn avoid extracts made with grain alcohol. Although grain alcohol is highly refined it still carries the allergen of corn and due to the rapid absorption of alcohol, the allergic symptoms appear in a few minutes. For example, many people use a White Willow extract to relieve a headache. Since the majority of the US population has some allergic reaction to corn, it is possible that alcohol made from grain will increase the likelihood of aggravating the condition. This same caution can be given to the use of extracts for most conditions (i.e. corn is known to aggravate arthritic symptoms, bladder, etc.)
A Story of Herbal Lore
Once upon a time, all herbs were whole, fresh, and pure. Cultures around the world respected the wisdom of Mother Nature and considered her plants healing gifts, perfect just as they were.
Then extract manufacturers entered the industry and thought they could improve on nature by identifying and standardizing an herb's "active constituent." By selectively extracting herbs with various kinds of toxic solvents, they could create herbal extract with unnaturally high levels of some constituents, while completely eliminating others.
The idea that an herb's action can be attributed to just one constituent is misguided. Whole herbs contain a myriad of different factors taht synergistically deliver a complete healing mesage; eliminate some of the factors and it will change the message. How much can a manufacturer alter, extract, fractionate, press, dry, and chemically process an herb such as Echinacea before it stops being Echinacea? Isn't the real thing better?
Nature Knows Best
Here at Eclectic Institute, they take the stance that Nature is the Master Formulator. They believe that no matter how much you separate, fractionate, or standardize an herb, you only subtract from Nature's Wisdom. That's why Eclectic prefers fresh herbs over air-dried, whole herbs over extracts, and pure one over those that have been processed with chemical solvents.
Did You Order Toxic Solvents With That Extract?
Sometimes toxic solvents such as hexane, acetone and methanol are used to extract marker constituents, which are then added back to the herb to create standardized extracts. This disrupts the synergistic balance of constituents created by nature. In many cases residues of the toxic solvent remain in the finished extract and is consumed along with the product.
When Herbs Become Drugs
All this is not to say that extracts don't have any benefit, many scientific studies ahve found that they do. But every time you extract an herb, something is being thrown away, and you only get part of what an herb has to offer. The more you extract, isolate, and standardize an herb, the further the herb is taken from its natural state and the closer it becomes to a drug.
Happily Ever After
At Eclectic Institute, they offer fresh, whole and pure herbs that contain all the herb's original phytochemical matrix, completely balanced just as nature intended, preserved using the gentle actions of physics rather than chemistry.