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What is Bilberry?

Bilberry is a plant. The dried, ripe fruit and leaves are used to make medicine.
Bilberry is used for improving eyesight, including night vision. In fact, 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 also used for treating eye conditions such as cataracts and disorders of the retina. There is some evidence that bilberry may help retinal disorders.
Some people use bilberry for conditions of the heart and blood vessels including hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), varicose veins, decreased blood flow in the veins, and chest pain.
Bilberry is also used for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), hemorrhoids, diabetes, osteoarthritis, gout, skin infections, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, kidney disease, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).
It 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.
Bilberry, which are rich in vitamin C, are also a source of iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Biberry are recognised above all for their effect on microcirculation. They apparently strengthen the capillaries by protecting them against oxidation and stimulate the regeneration of the rods on the retina. It was for that reason that British pilots in the Second World War ate large quantities of bilberry before night flights to improve their nocturnal vision.Lastly, bilberry have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health and on cell ageing. 
Morazzoni P, Magistretti MJ. Activity of Myrtocyan, an anthosyanoside complex from Vaccinium myrtillus (VMA), on platelet aggregation and adhesiveness. Fitoterapia 1990;61:13-21.
Magistretti MJ, Conti M, Cristoni A. Antiulcer activity of an anthocyanidin from Vaccinium myrtillus. Arzneimittelforschung 1988;38:686-90.
Erlund I, Marniemi J, Hakala P, et al. Consumption of black currants, lingonberries and bilberries increases serum quercetin concentrations. Eur J Clin Nutr 2003;57:37-42.
Bao L, Yao XS, Tsi D, et al. Protective effects of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) extract on KBrO3-induced kidney damage in mice. J Agric Food Chem 2008;56:420-5.
Burdulis D, Ivanauskas L, Dirse V, et al. Study of diversity of anthocyanin composition in bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) fruits. Medicina (Kaunas) 2007;43:971-7.
Bao L, Yao XS, Yau CC, et al. Protective effects of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) extract on restraint stress-induced liver damage in mice. J Agric Food Chem 2008;56:7803-7.
Ichiyanagi T, Shida Y, Rahman MM, et al. Bioavailability and tissue distribution of anthocyanins in bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) extract in rats. J Agric Food Chem 2006;54:6578-87.
Matsunaga N, Chikaraishi Y, Shimazawa M, et al. Vaccinium myrtillus (Bilberry) extracts reduce angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2010;7:47-56.
Lyons MM, Yu C, Toma RB, et al. Resveratrol in raw and baked blueberries and bilberries. J Agric Food Chem 2003;51:5867-70.
Canter PH, Ernst E. Anthocyanosides of Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) for night vision--a systematic review of placebo-controlled trials. Surv Ophthalmol 2004;49:38-50.
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Zadok D, Levy Y, Glovinsky Y, et al. The effect of anthocyanosides on night vision (abstract). Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 1997;38:S633.
Lietti A, Cristoni A, Picci M. Studies on Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides. I. Vasoprotective and antiinflammatory activity. Arzneimittelforschung 1976;26:829-32.
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Muth ER, Laurent JM, Jasper P.The effect of bilberry nutritional supplementation on night visual acuity andcontrast sensitivity. Altern Med Rev 2000;5:164-73.
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Bilberry has been used for many years for medicinal purposes. Originally from Northern Europe, these sweet little berries can also make delicious jams, juices, sorbets and pies. The real potential of bilberry as a supplement has yet to be determined since not many studies have been done to specifically prove its benefits. Nevertheless, bilberry has helped many people to fight different problems.

Bilberries, also known as European blueberries, primary use is for ocular support because it contains dense levels of anthocynosides, natural substances with excellent antioxidant properties. Continue use of bilberry supplements may inhibit or reverse eye disorders, such as macular degeneration - partial loss of central vision.

In addition, bilberry can help building up your immune system as it contains natural vitamin C. It may strengths your digestive system, the fruit has been used for centuries in England to treat diarrhea.  It may also increase cell production and general circulation, lowering the risk for several heart diseases and problems with the cardiovascular system.

Bilberry is found in many eye support products, normally in conjunction with Lutein. Most products can really improve your eye sight as vitamins are also added to a combination of herbs. Does it work for everyone? No, but many users are very happy with the results from bilberry, and were able to sharpen vision using a natural product.

- See more at: http://blog.luckyvitamin.com/herbs/herb-of-the-week-bilberry/#sthash.7xDC7o8C.dpuf


Until recently, mentioning bilberries  to me would have elicited nothing more than a confused look. Did you mean blueberries? Those, I’ve heard of, but bilberries . . . My ignorance could be attributed to the fact that, as far as bilberries are concerned, I’m geographically-challenged. I didn’t grow up in the hills of Northern Europe or the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, where small shrubs blossom with them each year. As such, I’ve missed out on a fruit that routinely fills pies and jam jars, and has been relied on, for its medicinal benefits, for centuries.

In the Middle Ages, bilberries were primarily used to induce menstruation. However, by the 18th century, the dark, juicy orbs were being dispensed to treat bladder and liver problems, typhoid fever, skin infections and scurvy. They gained real fame, though, during World War II. British Royal Air Force pilots devoured bilberry jam before missions in an attempt to improve night vision.  Seeing as they continued to do so after the first experiment, I would assume it worked well. Since then, bilberries have been used to prevent macular degeneration, poor night vision, myopia, diarrhea and minor inflammations. Today, they are not the most common of fruits, found more often than not in supplement form, and they’re health benefits are inconclusively supported. But, they’re future still looks bright.

Researchers have recently begun testing the effects of bilberry extract on colorectal and liver cancer.  Laboratory tests have already proven that they can slow colorectal cancer’s development, but clinical trials are necessary to determine their actual strength in humans. It looks promising however, and I wouldn’t say you have to wait around for the final results. Bilberry is safe, so try some supplements. Worst case, you’ll find that you haven’t been fighting cancer. Best case, you will have, and I’m willing to bet it’s going to be a best-case scenario.

- See more at: http://blog.luckyvitamin.com/herbs/bilberries-a-fruit-of-the-past-finds-hope-in-the-future/#sthash.ral9qAir.dpuf



Bilberry Health Article

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a European berry shrub that is related to the blueberry, huckleberry, and bearberry plants that grow in the United States. Bilberry is a small, wild, perennial shrub that grows throughout Europe and is now cultivated from the Far East to the United States. The shrub yields large amounts of small, darkish blue berries. Besides their medicinal use, they are often eaten fresh or made into jams and preserves. The leaves of the plant are used medicinally as well, but to a lesser extent than the berries. The qualities of the herb are sour, astringent, cold, and drying.

Bilberry has been used by European herbalists for centuries. In Elizabethan times, bilberries were mixed with honey and made into a syrup called rob that was prescribed for diarrhea and stomach problems. The berries were also used forinfectionsscurvy, and kidney stones. The leaves of the plant were used as a folk remedy for diabetes. Bilberry is most famous, though, for its long use as a medicine for eye and vision problems. Legend has it that during World War II, British and American pilots discovered that eating bilberry jam before night missions greatly improved their night vision. Bilberries then became a staple for Air Force pilots. Since then, extensive research in Europe has shown that bilberries contain specific compounds that have beneficial effects on the eyes and circulatory system. In France, bilberries have been prescribed since 1945 for diabeticretinopathy, a major cause of blindness in diabetics.

Bilberries are high in substances called flavonoids, which are found in many fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, peas, and are particularly abundant in citrus fruits and berries. Flavonoids are chemicals technically known as polyphenols. Flavonoids have antioxidant and disease-fighting properties. Antioxidants are substances that help cells in the body resist and repair damage. The flavonoids found in bilberry provide the blue color of the berry. The bilberry flavonoids are calledanthocyanosides, which were found to be the main active ingredients.

Bilberry flavonoids can increase certain enzymes and substances in the eyes that are crucial to good vision and eye function. Furthermore, anthocyanosides can increase circulation in the blood vessels in the eyes, and help these blood vessels repair and protect themselves. Specifically, research has shown that anthocyanosides help stabilize and protect a protein called collagen, which is a basic building block of veins, arteries, capillaries, and connective tissue. Particularly, anthocyanosides seem to work favorably in the tissues found in the retina, the back of the eye where major functions of vision take place. The retina is composed of millions of tiny nerve cells and blood vessels, which anthocyanosides can help support. Bilberry is a common treatment for many varieties of retinopathy, a disorder in which the intricate blood and nerve vessels in the retina are damaged. Retinopathy particularly affects people with diabetes, high blood pressure, andsickle cell anemia.

Many studies have documented bilberry's usefulness as a medicinal herb. One study demonstrated that bilberry extract used with Vitamin E prevented the progression of cataracts in 48 of 50 patients with cataract formations. In animal studies, bilberry reduced and stabilized blood sugar levels. In an Italian study, bilberry's flavonoids lowered cholesterol levels in the blood and improved circulation.

General use

Bilberry is most commonly used as a component of treatment for various vision andeye disorders, including glaucomacataracts, and macular degeneration. However, people with glaucoma should be monitored by an eye doctor regularly, and those with acute glaucoma should not depend on bilberry alone to protect their vision. They can use bilberry along with other emergency medical treatments. Bilberry is included in the treatments for many types of retinopathy and is also used for eye fatiguepoor night vision, and nearsightedness. It can be used as a preventative measure for glaucoma and cataracts, and to help those who require precise night vision like cab drivers and pilots. Bilberry's circulation improving andcholesterol lowering qualities make it useful in the treatment of varicose veins andatherosclerosis. It is also occasionally prescribed for arthritis.


Fresh bilberries can be eaten like blueberries, although they are difficult to find outside of Europe. Two to four ounce servings of the fresh fruit can be eaten three times a day. One to two cups each day is a good dose. Dried bilberries are sometimes available in herb or organic health food stores, and two or three small handfuls can be eaten per day. However, dried berries are likely to contain only a small amount of the flavonoids.

Bilberry supplements are widely available in health food stores. They can be purchased as capsules and liquid extracts. A high-quality supplement may contain a standardized formula of up to 25% anthocyanocides. The dosage recommended with this percentage of active ingredients is 80-160 mg taken three times daily. Bilberry supplements may be taken with food or on an empty stomach. Bilberry jam and syrup may also be used.

For eye and circulatory problems, bilberry can be taken with ginkgo to increase its beneficial effects. Vitamins A, C and E may also enhance bilberry's healing effects in the eye. Some suggestions have been made that other flavonoid-containing supplements, such as pine bark extract and grape seed extract, can possibly enhance bilberry's healing properties.


Bilberry may be used as prevention and herbal support for eye conditions, but should not replace medical care. Consumers with vision problems should be thoroughly and immediately examined by an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) before any treatment or remedy is used.

Side effects

Bilberries can be taken in large doses without any side effects. However, bilberry leaves shouldn't be taken in large doses or over long periods of time because they are toxic.


Keville, Kathi. Herbs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. New York: Friedman/Fairfax, 1994.

Mayell, Mark. Off-the-Shelf Natural Health. New York: Bantam, 1995.


HerbalGram (a quarterly journal of the American Botanical Council and Herb Research Foundation) P.O. Box 144345, Austin, TX 78714-4345, (800) 373-7105.<http://www.herbalgram.org>.

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