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Bilberry

Also indexed as:Vaccinium myrtillus
Bilberry: Main Image© Steven Foster
Botanical names:
Vaccinium myrtillus

Parts Used & Where Grown

A close relative of American blueberry, bilberry grows in northern Europe, Canada, and the United States. The ripe berries are primarily used in modern herbal extracts.

  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary "Star-Rating" system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for AmountWhy
Retinopathy
360 to 600 mg daily of an extract standardized for 25% anthocyanosides2 stars[2 stars]
Bilberry extract has been shown to strengthen blood vessels in the eye and improve vision in people with diabetic and hypertensive retinopathy.
Type 1 Diabetes
160 mg twice per day of an herbal extract containing 25% anthocyanosides2 stars[2 stars]
Bilberry may lower the risk of some diabetic complications, such as diabetic cataracts and retinopathy.
Type 2 Diabetes
160 mg twice per day of an herbal extract containing 25% anthocyanosides2 stars[2 stars]
Bilberry may lower the risk of some diabetic complications, such as diabetic cataracts and retinopathy.
Atherosclerosis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Bilberry has been shown to prevent platelet aggregation.
Cataracts
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Bilberry is high in flavonoids called anthocyanosides, which may protect both the lens and retina from oxidative damage and reduce the risk of cataracts.
Diarrhea
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Bilberry has been used traditionally in Germany for adults and children with diarrhea. Only dried berries or juice should be used--fresh berries may worsen diarrhea.
Edema
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Because coumarin, hydroxyethylrutosides, and diosmin are not widely available in, flavonoids such as anthocyanosides (from bilberry), have been substituted by doctors. The effects of these flavonoids against edema has not been well studied.
Glaucoma
60 mg twice a day1 star[1 star]
In a preliminary trial, supplementing with anthocyanins (flavonoids found in bilberry) improved symptoms in people with normal-tension glaucoma.
Macular Degeneration
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Supplementing with bilberry may help prevent and treat early-stage macular degeneration.
Night Blindness
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Bilberry is high in flavonoids that speed the regeneration of the pigment used by eye for night vision. Supplementing with bilberry has been shown to improve dark adaptation in people with poor night vision.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

The dried berries and leaves of bilberry have been recommended for a wide variety of conditions, including scurvy, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and diabetes. Perhaps the most sound historical application is the use of the dried berries to treat diarrhea. Modern research of bilberry was partly based on its use by British World War II pilots, who noticed that their night vision improved when they ate bilberry jam prior to night bombing raids.1

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.

 
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