Bilberry is a relative of the blueberry, cranberry and bearberry. The bilberry fruit can be eaten fresh and is sometimes added to salads, but it is usually made into jams, juices or pies.
The fruit has been used to treat diarrhea, menstrual cramps, as a diuretic, to help with eye problems, varicose veins, poor blood flow from the heart and other circulatory problems, especially circulatory deterioration resulting in aging of the mind and body. Billberries may help to thin the blood and reduce clotting. (Be ware that they may interact with blood thinning medication).The leaf is used for a variety of conditions including reducing the blood sugar levels in diabetes and other gastrointestinal ailments.
For horses the fruit may be fed whole or dried. It is believed the fruit inhibits the growth of bacteria in the gut, therefore help with diarrhea caused by bacteria, although, large quantities of the fresh fruit may have a laxative effect. The fruit may also be made into a juice or a tea. The tea can be used on skin irritations. It has very tonic properties.
The leaves should be harvested just before the berries ripen. Bilberry fruit is considered to be safe, however extremely high doses of the leaves maybe toxic, so don’t let your horses graze freely on this plant.