A close relative of American blueberry, bilberry grows in northern Europe, Canada, and the United States. The ripe berries are used. The leaves may also contain beneficial compounds. The dried berries and leaves of bilberry have been recommended for a wide variety of conditions, including scurvy, urinary tract infections, and kidney stones. 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.

Active constituents of Bilberry

Anthocyanosides, the bioflavonoid complex in bilberries, are potent antioxidants.1 They support normal formation of connective tissue and strengthen capillaries in the body. Anthocyanosides may also improve capillary and venous blood flow. Preliminary human studies conducted in Europe show that bilberry may prevent cataracts, and even treat mild retinopathies (e.g. macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy). Bilberry may also prevent blood vessel thickening due to diabetes.

Bilberry protects cholesterol from oxidizing in test tubes.5 This may be part of how it helps people with atherosclerosis.

How much Bilberry is usually taken?

Bilberry herbal extract in capsules or tablets standardized to provide 25% anthocyanosides can be taken in the amount of 240–600 mg per day. Traditional use is 1–2 ml two times per day in tincture form or 20–60 grams of the fruit daily.

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