BILBERRY

OTHER NAME(S):

Airelle, Arándano, Bilberry Fruit, Bilberry Leaf, Black Whortles, Bleaberry, Blueberry, Brimbelle, Burren Myrtle, Dwarf Bilberry, Dyeberry, European Bilberry, Feuille de Myrtille, Fruit de Myrtille, Gueule Noire, Huckleberry, Hurtleberry, Mauret, Myrtille, Myrtille Européenne, Myrtilli Fructus, Raisin des Bois, Swedish Bilberry, Trackleberry, Vaccinium myrtillus, Whortleberry, Wineberry.<br/><br/>

Overview

Overview Information

Bilberry is a plant. The dried, ripe fruit and leaves are used to make medicine.

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?

Bilberry contains chemicals called tannins that can help improve diarrhea, as well as mouth and throat irritation, by reducing swelling (inflammation). There is some evidence that the chemicals found in bilberry leaves can help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Some researchers think that chemicals called flavonoids in bilberry leaf might also improve circulation in people with diabetes. Circulation problems can harm the retina of the eye.

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Poor circulation that can cause the legs to swell (chronic venous insufficiency or CVI). Some research suggests 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 suggests that bilberry is not effective for improving night vision.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Diabetes. Early research suggests 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 suggests 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 suggests 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 suggests 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 suggests 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 suggests 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 suggests that eating 100 grams of frozen, whole bilberries daily for about a month decreases weight and waist circumference in overweight and obese women.
  • Eye strain (asthenopia).
  • High blood pressure.
  • Prediabetes.
  • A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS).
  • Arthritis (osteoarthritis).
  • Cataracts.
  • Chest pain (angina).
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Gout.
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
  • Skin problems.
  • Urinary tract problems.
  • Varicose veins.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of bilberry for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: The dried, ripe fruit of bilberry is LIKELY SAFE for most people when eaten in typical food amounts. Bilberry fruit extracts are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for medicinal uses for up to one year. Also, a specific combination product (Mirtogenol) containing bilberry and French maritime pine bark (Pycnogenol) has been used safely for up to 6 months. Bilberry leaf is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for most people when taken in high doses or for a long time.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy or breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if it is safe to use bilberry in the higher doses found in medicine when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick with food amounts.

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.

Interactions

Interactions?

Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

!
  • 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.<br /><br /> 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.<br /><br /> 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.

Dosing

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • 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.

View References

REFERENCES:

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  • Kawabata, F. and Tsuji, T. Effects of dietary supplementation with a combination of fish oil, bilberry extract, and lutein on subjective symptoms of asthenopia in humans. Biomed Res 2011;32(6):387-393. View abstract.
  • Kolehmainen, M., Mykkanen, O., Kirjavainen, P. V., Leppanen, T., Moilanen, E., Adriaens, M., Laaksonen, D. E., Hallikainen, M., Puupponen-Pimia, R., Pulkkinen, L., Mykkanen, H., Gylling, H., Poutanen, K., and Torronen, R. Bilberries reduce low-grade inflammation in individuals with features of metabolic syndrome. Mol Nutr Food Res 2012;56(10):1501-1510. View abstract.
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