Bilberry is used by mouth to treat poor circulation that can cause the legs to swell. Some people take bilberry for diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and many other conditions. But there is no good scientific research to support these other uses.
Bilberry is also sometimes used by mouth to treat eye conditions such as disorders of the retina, cataracts, nearsightedness, and glaucoma. There is some evidence that bilberry may help retinal disorders, but there is no good scientific evidence that bilberry is effective for treating other eye conditions.
In fact, bilberry was once commonly used for improving night vision. During World War II, British pilots in the Royal Air Force ate bilberry jam to improve their night vision, but later research showed it probably didn't help.
Bilberry is sometimes applied directly to the inside of the mouth for mild mouth and throat soreness.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- Poor circulation that can cause the legs to swell (chronic venous insufficiency or CVI). Some research shows that taking bilberry extract by mouth can improve symptoms of swelling, pain, bruising, and burning in people with a circulation problem called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
Possibly Ineffective for
- Ability to see in low-light conditions. Most evidence shows that bilberry is not effective for improving night vision.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Eye strain (asthenopia). Early research shows that bilberry might improve eye strain in people who stare at computer screens for work.
- Diabetes. Early research shows that bilberry can lower blood sugar levels.
- Vision problems in people with diabetes (diabetic retinopathy). Eating bilberry fruit containing a high amount of a certain chemical, called anthocyanoside, seems to improve retina problems associated with diabetes.
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Early research shows that taking bilberry twice daily 3 days before the beginning of the period and continuing for 8 days for a least two consecutive menstrual cycles reduces pain, nausea, vomiting and headache in women with painful menstruation.
- Muscle soreness caused by exercise. Early research shows that drinking bilberry juice might make muscle soreness worse in athletes after running a marathon.
- A group of eye disorders that can lead to vision loss (glaucoma). Early research shows that taking 60 mg of a bilberry chemical, called anthocyanin, twice daily for at least 12 months improves vision in people with glaucoma.
- Vision problems in people with high blood pressure (hypertensive retinopathy). Eating bilberry fruit containing a high amount of a certain chemical, called anthocyanoside, seems to improve retina problems associated with high blood pressure.
- A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome). Some evidence shows that eating 400 grams of fresh bilberries daily does not affect body weight, blood sugar, or cholesterol in people with metabolic syndrome.
- Nearsightedness. Some early research shows that eating fermented bilberry seems to improve the ability to focus and see objects that are far away.
- A type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis). Some early research shows that consuming 160 grams of bilberry daily for 6 weeks can lead to remission in some people with ulcerative colitis.
- Obesity. Early research shows that eating 100 grams of frozen, whole bilberries daily for about a month decreases weight and waist circumference in overweight and obese women.
- High blood pressure.
- A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS).
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis).
- Chest pain (angina).
- Chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
- Skin problems.
- Urinary tract problems.
- Varicose veins.
- Other conditions.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Diabetes. Bilberry leaf might lower blood sugar. Taking bilberry leaves along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.
Surgery: Bilberry might affect blood glucose levels. This could interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking bilberry at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with BILBERRY
Bilberry leaves might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking bilberry leaves along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with BILBERRY
There is some concern that bilberry might slow blood clotting. Taking bilberry along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. However, there is not enough information to know if this is a serious concern.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Be cautious with this combination
- Poor circulation that can cause the legs to swell (chronic venous insufficiency or CVI): A bilberry extract containing 173 mg of anthocyanins has been taken daily for 30 days.
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