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Bilberry
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Bilberry Overview

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Often called European blueberry, bilberry is closely related to American blueberry, cranberry, and huckleberry. Its meat is creamy white instead of purple, but it is traditionally used, like blueberries, in the preparation of jams, pies, cobblers, and cakes.

Bilberry fruit also has a long medicinal history. In the twelfth century, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen wrote of bilberry's usefulness for inducing menstruation. Over subsequent centuries, the list of uses for bilberry grew to include a bewildering variety of possibilities, from bladder stones to typhoid fever.

What Is the Scientific Evidence for Bilberry?

Night Vision

A double-blind crossover trial of 15 individuals found no short- or long-term improvements in night vision attributable to bilberry. 1 Similarly negative results were seen in a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial of 18 subjects 2 and another of 16 subjects. 3 In contrast, two much earlier controlled, but not double-blind, studies of bilberry found that the herb temporarily improved night vision. 4 However, the effect was not found to persist with continued use. A later double-blind, placebo-controlled study on 40 healthy subjects found that a single dose of bilberry extract improved visual response for 2 hours. 5 Visual benefits have also been reported in other small trials, but these studies did not use a placebo control group and are therefore not valid as evidence. 6

Hemorrhoids

In a 4-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 40 people with hemorrhoids , oral use of bilberry extract significantly reduced hemorrhoid symptoms as compared to placebo. 7

Diabetic Retinopathy

A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of bilberry extract in 14 people with diabetic retinopathy or hypertensive retinopathy (damage to the retina caused by diabetes or hypertension , respectively) found significant improvements in the treated group. 8 However, the small size of this study makes the results less than fully reliable. Other studies are also cited as indicating benefits, but they were not double-blind and therefore mean little. 9

Dosage

The standard dosage of bilberry is 120 to 240 mg twice daily of an extract standardized to contain 25% anthocyanosides.

References

  1. Muth ER, Laurent JM, Jasper P. The effect of bilberry nutritional supplementation on night visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. Altern Med Rev. 5(2):164-73.
  2. Zadok D, Levy Y, Glovinsky Y, et al. The effect of anthocyanosides on night vision tests. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1997;38(suppl):633.
  3. Levy Y, Glovinsky Y. The effect of anthocyanosides on night vision. Eye. 1998;12:967-969.
  4. Jayle GE, Aubert L. Action of anthocyan glucosides on the scotopic and mesopic vision of the normal subject [in French; English abstract]. Therapie. 1964;19:171-185.
  5. Bone K. Bilberry-The vision herb. MediHerb Prof Rev. 1997;59:1-4.
  6. Sala D, Rolando M, Rossi PL, et al. Effect of anthocyanosides on visual performance at low illumination [in Italian; English abstract]. Minerva Oftalmol. 1979;21:283-285.
  7. Villalba G. Anthocyanosides as a new vasculotrophic agent in patients with hemorrhoids. Medicina (Mex). 1974;54:73-76.
  8. Bone K. Bilberry-The vision herb. MediHerb Prof Rev. 1997;59:1-4.
  9. Bone K. Bilberry-The vision herb. MediHerb Prof Rev. 1997;59:1-4.
 
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