Blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Ericaceae family (Heath family)
Blueberry is a shrubby perennial plant that grows in wooded areas of the northern US and forest meadows of Europe. Plants may grow up to 50 cm, producing 1.5 to 2,5 cm long leaves which are oval and bright green. The flowers however are reddish- or greenish-pink and bell-shaped. The fruit itself is blue-black or purple, and the meat of the fruit is also purple.
Blueberry anthocyanosides increase the production and integrity of collagen. Collagen is the most common protein in the entire body. Collagen is a fibrous structural protein of the skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, muscles and other connective tissue of the body. It also occurs dispersed in a gel to provide stiffening as the vitreous liquid of the eye. Blueberry anthocyanosides stabilize connective tissue by increasing the integrity of the collagen matrix, increasing the production of collagen and by preventing destruction of collagen connective tissue around blood vessels. Anthocyanosides are also potent antioxidants that prevent cell membrane damage from free radicals. Blueberry anthocyanosides decrease blood vessel fragility and prevent inflammation and swelling. They have also demonstrated smooth muscle relaxing effects around blood vessels and prevent platelet aggregation and excess blood clotting. Anthocyanosides also speed up regeneration of rhodopsin in the eye. Rhodopsin is a visual pigment in the retina of the eye responsible for night vision and dark adaption. Blueberry helps to speed up regeneration of rhodopsin and stimulate enzymes in the retina of the eye.
The herb contains Vitamins A and C, providing antioxidant protection which can help prevent free radical damage to the eyes. Vitamin A is required for sharp vision, while Vitamin C helps form collagen and is needed for growth and repair of tissue cells and blood vessels. Anthocyanosides support and protect collagen structures in the blood vessels of the eyes, assuring strong, healthy capillaries that carry vital nutrients to eye muscles and nerves.
Connective Tissue: The most common protein found in connective tissue is collagen. In fact, collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals, and it is the major fibrous element of skin, bone, tendon, cartilage, blood vessels, and teeth. Blueberry’s anthocyanosides benefit collagen several ways:
- They reinforce the natural cross-linking of collagen fibers that form the matrix of connective tissue.
- Their antioxidant properties protect collagen.
- During inflammation, they inhibit enzymes secreted by leukocytes that cause enzymatic cleavage of collagen.
- They promote collagen synthesis, and stimulate reticulation of collagen fibrils.
- Anthocyanosides can actually cross-link collagen fibers. This reinforces the collagen matrix of connective tissue (cartilage, tendons, etc.)
- Damage by free radicals can be prevented by anthocyanosides, which are potent antioxidants and free radical scavengers.
- During inflammation, leukocytes secrete cyzymes which cleave collagen. Anthocyanosides inhibit this cleavage.
- Anthocyanosides can prevent the release of histamine, serine proteases, prostaglandins, and leukotrienes, all of which are mobilized during an inflammatory process.
- Anthocyanosides also promote mucopolysaccharide and collagen biosynthesis and stimulate reticulation of collagen fibrils.
Source: Sankelo, Terhi – Siivari, Jari – Rumjantseva, Ludmila 2002: Mustikka ja mustikanlehti – kirjallisuuskooste. Kirjallisuus ja tietokantakatsaus. Hanke – luonnosta teolliseen tuotantoon, MTT – Rovaniemen tutkimusasema.