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Bilberry fruit is a food and, as such, is quite safe. Enormous quantities have been administered to rats without toxic effects. 1 One study of 2,295 people given bilberry extract found a 4% incidence of side effects such as mild digestive distress, skin rashes, and drowsiness. 2 Although safety in pregnancy has not been proven, clinical trials have enrolled pregnant women. 3 Safety in young children, nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known. **There are no known drug interactions. Bilberry does not appear to interfere with blood clotting. 4 Little is known about the safety of bilberry leaf. Based on animal evidence that it can reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, it is possible that use of bilberry leaf by people with diabetes could require a reduction in drug dosage. 5
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Medications to reduce blood sugar : bilberry leaf (not fruit) might amplify the effect, and you may need to reduce your dose of medication.
- Lietti A, Cristoni A, Picci M. Studies on Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides. I. Vasoprotective and antiinflammatory activity. Arzneimittelforschung. 1976;26:829-832.
- Eandi M. Post marketing investigation on Tegens? preparation with respect to side effects. Unpublished results. Cited by: Morazzoni P, Bombardelli E. Vaccinium myrtillus. Fitoterapia. 1996;67:3-29.
- Grismondi GL. Treatment of phlebopathies caused by stasis in pregnancy [translated from Italian]. Minerva Ginecol. 1981;33:221-230.
- Scharrer A, Ober M. Anthocyanosides in the treatment of retinopathies [translated from German]. Klin Monatsbl Augenheilkd. 1981;178:386-389.
- Cignarella A, Nastasi M, Cavalli E, et al. Novel lipid-lowering properties of Vaccinium myrtillus L. leaves, a traditional antidiabetic treatment, in several models of rat dyslipidaemia: a comparison with ciprofibrate. Thromb Res. 1996;84:311-322.