What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Bilberry Usage

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What Is Bilberry Used for Today?

The modern use of bilberry dates back to World War II, when British Royal Air Force pilots reported that a good dose of bilberry jam just prior to a mission improved their night vision , often dramatically. Subsequent investigation showed that bilberry contains biologically active substances known as anthocyanosides. Some evidence suggests that anthocyanosides may benefit the retina, as well as strengthen the walls of blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and stabilize tissues containing collagen (such as tendons, ligaments, and cartilage). 1 2 3 4 5 6 However, neither anecdote nor basic scientific evidence of this type can prove a treatment effective. Only double-blind, placebo-controlled studies can do that. (For more information, see the article Why Does This Database Rely on Double-blind Studies? ) Regarding night vision, the balance of the evidence suggests that bilberry is nothelpful. Slight evidence hints that bilberry might be helpful for diabetic retinopathy . One double-blind study suggests that bilberry might be helpful for hemorrhoids .

Finally, because the anthocyanosides in bilberry resemble the oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes ( OPCs ) found in grape seed and pine bark, bilberry has been recommended for all the same uses as those substances, including easy bruising , varicose veins , minor injuries , and surgery support .

Animal studies also suggest that bilberry leaves (rather than the fruit) may be helpful for improving blood sugar control in diabetes , and also in lowering blood triglycerides . 7


  1. Monboisse JC, Braquet P, Randoux A, Borel JP. Non-enzymatic degradation of acid-soluble calf skin collagen by superoxide ion: protective effect of flavonoids. Biochem Pharmacol. 32(1):53-8.
  2. Havsteen B. Flavonoids, a class of natural products of high pharmacological potency. Biochem Pharmacol. 32(7):1141-8.
  3. Gábor M. Pharmacologic effects of flavonoids on blood vessels. Angiologica. 9(3-6):355-74.
  4. Mian E, Curri SB, Lietti A, et al. Anthocyanosides and the walls of the microvessels: further aspects of the mechanism of action of their protective effect in syndromes due to abnormal capillary fragility [in Italian; English abstract]. Minerva Med. 1977;68:3565-3581.
  5. Pulliero G, Montin S, Bettini V, et al. Ex vivo study of the inhibitory effects of Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides on human platelet aggregation. Fitoterapia. 1989;60:69-75.
  6. Wegmann R, Maeda K, Tronche P, et al. Effects of anthocyanosides on photoreceptors. Cytoenzymatic aspects [translated from French]. Ann Histochim. 1969;14:237-256.
  7. 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.


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