Bilberry

Plant Part Used

Berry/leaf.

Introduction

Bilberry is one of the most popular herbs on the market today. During World War II when British air pilots ate bilberries, they reported an improved ability to adjust to glare and an increase in their visual acuity and nighttime vision. (1) These days, people still use bilberry to support healthy vision as well as other aspects of overall health.

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

80-240mg (standardized extract) daily, in divided doses.

Tea: 1 cup, 2 to 3 times daily with one gram of herb per cup. (2)

A 10% decoction is prepared for external use. (3)

Most Common Dosage

80mg (standardized extract), 2 times daily.

Tea: 1 cup, 2 times daily with one gram of herb per cup.

A 10% decoction is prepared for external use.

Standardization

[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 25% anthocyanosides, calculated as anthocyanidins, per dose.

Reported Uses

Bilberry is best known for its reported ability to improve and protect vision, especially for the elderly. Scientists have proposed that because bilberry may improve overall oxygenation of tissues, it can lessen free radical damage to the eyes. These effects may be helpful for diabetics suffering from vision problems related to the disease, as well as patients with macular degeneration or cataracts. (4) , (5)

These benefits carry over into other systems of the body. Because bilberry is classified as an antioxidant, it may support collagen in the tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, thus decreasing arthritis symptoms. (6) Additionally, scientists are exploring bilberry’s potential for strengthening the capillaries and increasing blood flow, both of which could be of benefit to people with artherosclerosis and vericose veins. (7) , (8)

Most of the studies have been done on extracts from the berries, but studies have also been done on extracts from the the leaf of the plant. In laboratory and animal studies, extracts from the leaf have shown benefit in helping control the LDL (bad) cholesterol (9) and triglyceride (10) components of lipids or fats in the body. Other laboratory and animal studies on bilberry leaf extract have shown support for cancer, (11) , (12) , (13) diabetes, (14) , (15) , (16) and chronic fatigue syndrome. (17)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

This dietary supplement is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines. (18)

Health Conditions

If you have a bleeding disorder talk to your doctor before taking this dietary supplement.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

References

  1. Jayle GE, et al. Study Concerning the Action of Anthocyanoside Extracts of Vaccinium myrtillus on Night Vision. Ann Ocul. Paris. 1965;198(6):556-62.
  2. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd edition. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000:77.
  3. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd edition. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000:77.
  4. Bonanni R, et al. Clinical Study of the Action of Myrtillis Alone or Associated with Betacarotene on Normal Subjects and on Patients with Degenerative Changes of the Fundus Oculi. Atti Accad Fisiocrit Siena. 1968; 17(2):1470-88.
  5. View Abstract: Varma SD, et al. Diabetic Cataracts and Flavonoids. Science. 1977;195:205-06.
  6. Jonadet M, et al. Anthocyanosides Extracted from Vitis vinifera, Vaccinium myrtillus and Pinus maritimus, I. Elastase-inhibiting Activities in Vitro, II. Compared Angioprotective Activities in Vivo. J Pharm Belg. 1983;38(1):41-46.
  7. View Abstract: Detre Z, et al. Studies on Vascular Permeability in Hypertension: Action of Anthocyanoside. Clin Physiol Biochem. 1986;4(2):143-49.
  8. Bottecchia D, et al. Vaccinium myrtillus. Fitoterapia. 1977;48:3-8.
  9. View Abstract: Laplaud PM, Lelubre A, Chapman MJ. Antioxidant Action of Vaccinium myrtillus Extract on Human Low Density Lipoproteins In Vitro: Initial Observations. Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 1997;11(1):35-40.
  10. View Abstract: 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. Dec1996;84(5):311-22.
  11. View Abstract: Bomser J, Madhavi DL, Singletary K, et al. In Vitro Anticancer Activity of Fruit Extracts from Vaccinium Species. Planta Med. Jun1996;62(3):212-6.
  12. Seeger PG. The Anthocyans of Beta vulgaris var. rubra (red beets), Vaccinium myrtillis (whortleberries), Vinum rubrum (red wine) and Their Significance as Cell Respiratory Activators for Cancer Prophylaxis and Cancer Therapy. Arztl Forsch. Feb1967;21(2):68-78.
  13. View Abstract: Katsube N, Iwashita K, Tsushida T, Yamaki K, Kobori M. Induction of Apoptosis in Cancer Cells by Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and the Anthocyanins. J Agric Food Chem. Jan2003;51(1):68-75.
  14. View Abstract: Vervoort G, Lutterman JA, Smits P, et al. Transcapillary Escape Rate of Albumin is Increased and Related to Haemodynamic Changes in Normo-albuminuric Type 1 Diabetic Patients. J Hypertens. Dec1999;17(12 Pt 2):1911-6.
  15. View Abstract: Cohen-Boulakia F, Valensi PE, Boulahdour H, et al. In Vivo Sequential Study of Skeletal Muscle Capillary Permeability in Diabetic Rats: Effect of Anthocyanosides. Metabolism. Jul2000;49(7):880-5.
  16. View Abstract: Colantuoni A, Bertuglia S, Magistretti MJ, et al. Effects of Vaccinium myrtillus Anthocyanosides on Arterial Vasomotion. Arzneimittelforschung. Sep1991;41(9):905-9.
  17. View Abstract: Logan AC, Wong C. Chronic fatigue syndrome: oxidative stress and dietary modifications. Altern Med Rev. Oct2001;6(5):450-9.
  18. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000:76.