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What is bilberry used for: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews

Bilberry | NCCIH

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Common Names: bilberry, European blueberry, whortleberry, huckleberry

Latin Names: Vaccinium myrtillus


  • The bilberry bush is native to northern areas of Europe and Asia, the northern United States, and Canada. Its dark berries resemble blueberries.
  • Its name is derived from the Danish word bollebar, which means “dark berry.”
  • Bilberry has been used for medicinal purposes since the Middle Ages. The berries and leaves are the parts of the plant that are used. Historically, bilberry has been used for a variety of conditions, including diarrhea, inflammation of the mouth, urinary problems, and diabetes. It’s also been used traditionally to prevent scurvy, due to its high vitamin C content. During World War II, British pilots ate bilberry jam, thinking it would improve their night vision.
  • Today, bilberry is promoted as a dietary supplement for night vision, cataracts, varicose veins, and other conditions such as atherosclerosis (in which plaque builds up in arteries).

How Much Do We Know?

  • There are few high-quality clinical trials (studies in people) of bilberry supplements.

What Have We Learned?

  • There’s little scientific evidence to support the use of bilberry for many health conditions.
  • A few recent studies have suggested possible beneficial effects of bilberry. However, these studies involved small numbers of people. More research would be needed to confirm these findings.
    • Results from a small clinical study (24 people) suggest that consuming bilberries may reduce gum inflammation and bleeding.
    • Data from a Japanese study with 88 office workers suggest that a bilberry extract helped with eye fatigue.
    • Data from a small study with 21 people suggest that consuming bilberry juice for 5 days before and 2 days after a half-marathon may lead to small to moderate transient increases in muscle soreness and inflammation in recreationally trained runners.
  • The berries have a high concentration of polyphenols called anthocyanins, which some studies suggest may have health benefits.

What Do We Know About Safety?

  • Bilberry fruit is considered safe when consumed in amounts typically found in foods, or as an extract for 6 months to a year.
  • Bilberry leaves may be unsafe when taken orally (by mouth) in high doses or for long periods of time.
  • Little is known about whether it’s safe to use bilberry during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. (Consuming amounts typically found in foods is considered safe.)
  • Bilberry may interact with a cancer drug called erlotinib (Tarceval), antidiabetes drugs, or medications that slow blood clotting. If you’re taking medicine, talk with your health care provider before taking bilberry supplements.

Keep in Mind

  • Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.

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Key References

  • Bilberry. Natural Medicines website. Accessed at naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com on October 14, 2019. [Database subscription].
  • Bilberry. LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet]. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548250/ on October 29. 2019.
  • Lynn A, Garner S, Nelson N, et al. Effect of bilberry juice on indices of muscle damage and inflammation in runners competing a half-marathon: a randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2018;15:22.
  • Ozawa Y, Kawashima M, Inoue S, et al. Bilberry extract supplementation for preventing eye fatigue in video display terminal workers. Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. 2015;19(5):548-554.
  • Tjelle TE, Holtung L, Bøhn SK, et al. Polyphenol-rich juices reduce blood pressure measures in a randomized controlled trial in high normal and hypertensive volunteers. British Journal of Nutrition. 2015;114(7):1054-1063.
  • Widén C, Coleman M, Critén M, et al. Consumption of bilberries controls gingival inflammation. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2015;16(5):10,665-10,673.
  • Yamaura K, Shimada M, Ueno K. Anthocyanins from bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) alleviate pruritus in a mouse model of chronic allergic contact dermatitis. Pharmacognosy Research. 2011;3(3):173-177.

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

Last Updated: August 2020

Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews


Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a plant that produces berries similar to the American blueberry. The dried fruit and leaves are used as medicine.

Bilberry contains chemicals called tannins. They might help reduce swelling. The chemicals in bilberry leaves might also help to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and improve circulation in people with diabetes.

People use bilberry for night vision, poor circulation that can cause the legs to swell, high blood pressure, and many other conditions. But there is no good scientific evidence to support any of these uses.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Ability to see in low-light conditions. Taking bilberry by mouth doesn’t improve night vision in healthy people. It isn’t clear if bilberry is helpful in people with night blindness.

There is interest in using bilberry for a number of other purposes, but there isn’t enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Eating dried, ripe bilberry fruit in typical food amounts is likely safe for most people. Bilberry fruit extracts are possibly safe when taken in doses up to 160 mg daily for up to 6 months. But bilberry leaf is possibly unsafe to take in high doses or for a long time.

Special Precautions and Warnings

When taken by mouth: Eating dried, ripe bilberry fruit in typical food amounts is likely safe for most people. Bilberry fruit extracts are possibly safe when taken in doses up to 160 mg daily for up to 6 months. But bilberry leaf is possibly unsafe to take in high doses or for a long time. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Bilberry fruit is likely safe when consumed in small amounts as a food. There isn’t enough reliable information to know if it is safe to use bilberry in the higher doses found in medicine when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick with food amounts.

Surgery: Bilberry might affect blood sugar levels. This could interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking bilberry at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Interactions ?

    Moderate Interaction

    Be cautious with this combination

  • Bilberry might lower blood sugar levels. Taking bilberry along with diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.

  • Bilberry might slow blood clotting. Taking bilberry along with medications that also slow blood clotting might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.

  • Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Bilberry might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.


Bilberry fruit has most often been used by adults in doses of 160-240 mg by mouth daily for up to 6 months. Bilberry extracts are usually standardized to contain a certain amount of chemicals called anthocyanins. Products providing 120-160 mg of these chemicals daily have been used for up to 6 months. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.

View References

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.

Blueberries – useful properties and calorie content, use and preparation, benefits and harms

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Bilberry is a low (only 10–50 cm) shrub of the family cowberry. The leaves are alternate, ovate, leathery, falling in the winter. Leaves and petioles have deep grooves through which rainwater rolls down to the root. The flowers are greenish-white, sitting one at a time, tilted down – this protects them from dampness. Blueberries are black or bluish-black due to the waxy coating of the berries. The flesh is purple, with many seeds. Blueberries taste sweet.

Photo by Sviatoslav Huzii on Unsplash. “world stocks” of blueberries are located on the territory of our country. This plant is a northern resident, preferring wet and swampy soils. Blueberries usually grow in coniferous-deciduous forests, forming entire plantations. In a fruitful year, up to a ton of berries per hectare can be harvested from a good blueberry. Blueberries are widely distributed in the European part of Russia, in Siberia and Karelia.

Bilberry is also a good honey plant, blueberry honey is fragrant, transparent, with a reddish tinge and a peculiar taste.


Blueberries are used to make jams, jams, marmalade, fillings for delicious pies, dumplings, used as a decoration for cakes, ice cream, yoghurts, for coloring pale compotes. Blueberries are dried, frozen, raw jam is prepared (berries grated with sugar, preserving the maximum amount of vitamins). All kinds of desserts, casseroles, liqueurs are prepared from blueberries. But in season it is necessary to eat this healthy berry fresh.

Composition and properties

Vitamins A, C and PP, vitamins of group B were found in blueberries. Berries contain organic acids, micro and macro elements, tannins, essential oils and alcohols, phytoncides.

Blueberry leaves also contain many useful biologically active substances and are often used in folk medicine.

The most famous property of blueberries is the ability to significantly improve eyesight. Bilberry accelerates retinal renewal, expands the field of view, enhances its sharpness, reduces eye fatigue, especially when working at a computer, at dusk, at night and under artificial lighting.

Blueberry preparations have vasoconstrictive and antibacterial properties, heal the intestines. Tea with the addition of blueberry juice and pure juice have a diuretic effect, they are used for sand in the kidneys and for bedwetting.

Water infusions of blueberries are used for sore throats, catarrh of the upper respiratory tract, stomatitis. Fresh berries, as well as jelly from them, are useful for diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, preventing putrefactive and fermentation processes in the intestines.

Decoctions and infusions of the leaves are used to treat wounds and rinse the mouth. The leaves contain neomertillin, which lowers blood sugar, which is useful for diabetics to know.


People suffering from oxilaturia (a type of urolithiasis) should not consume fresh berries and blueberry juice.

In case of dysfunction of the duodenum, blueberries should not be abused either.

Calories and nutritional value of blueberries

Blueberry calories 44 kcal.

Nutritional value of blueberries: proteins – 1.1 g, fats – 0.6 g, carbohydrates – 7.6 g

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Blueberries – composition and useful properties. Health Benefits of Blueberries

July is the peak of the blueberry season. Berry hunters go to the forests alone and with whole families, armed with buckets, “harvesters” and remarkable patience. However, diligence pays off handsomely.

Blueberries are an ideal raw material for home-made preparations for the winter and a source of income, because the producers are not behind the price. But most importantly, the berry has unique properties that bring exceptional health benefits. However, let’s talk about everything in order.

What blueberries are rich in

If we talk about useful components of blueberries, it is easier to list what is not in them. Having “decomposed” the berry into its components, if desired, you can study the periodic table. There is iron, manganese, copper, potassium, and sulfur with phosphorus … In addition, blueberries are an excellent source of vitamins C, PP and B group. , magnesium, manganese, vitamin C and carotene.

Let’s not forget about the antioxidants that are found in large quantities in blueberries. And also about the essential organic acids (citric, quinic, oxalic, malic, lactic) and tannins that make up the berry. Each of the components of blueberries has its own role in the beneficial effects on human health.

There are at least 100 types of blueberries in the world. And not all of them are a well-known undersized shrub with medium-sized dark blue berries.

For example, Caucasian blueberries grow taller than human height. And the height of the tree-like blueberry even reaches the level of a three-story house. Japanese blueberries have bright red berries, while Indian blueberries are white.

Benefits of blueberries for eyesight

Perhaps the most well-known fact about the healing properties of blueberries is their ability to positively affect vision.

It has been proven that the substances that make up the wild berry stimulate the blood circulation of the retina and, accordingly, improve vigilance.

An interesting fact: during the Great Patriotic War, Soviet pilots were required to drink blueberry jelly before night flights.

Although blueberries are traditionally the No. 1 food for sharp vision, tomatoes, yellow and red bell peppers, and green vegetables have the same properties.

The benefits of blueberries for the heart and blood vessels

Regular consumption of blueberries is an effective way to prevent myocardial infarction.

Of course, relying only on the berry is too reckless, if at the same time you lead a lifestyle that is far from healthy. But if negative factors are minimized and blueberries are included in the diet, this will become a powerful preventive tool against diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

This is primarily due to the potassium, folic acid and phytochemical components contained in blueberries, which have a hypotonic effect (that is, they can lower blood pressure) and strengthen the walls of blood vessels. As well as anticoagulants, which reduce blood clotting and prevent the formation of blood clots.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia conducted a study of more than 93,000 women aged 25 to 42. Regular consumption of blueberries has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack by 32%.

Benefits of blueberries for the stomach and figure

In folk medicine, blueberries are especially valued as a sure remedy for stomach problems.

Useful fibers that a small berry contains in abundance, contribute to the normalization of digestion, have a beneficial effect on metabolic processes, and have a disinfectant effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, blueberries are equally effective in coping with any intestinal disorders: fresh berries help with constipation, dried berries help with diarrhea.

But for people who are struggling with excess weight, blueberries are a real lifesaver. Berry pectins perfectly cleanse the intestines and remove metabolic products from the body, pantothenic acid improves metabolism. Blueberries have a low calorie content and can claim the title of a unique dietary product.

The energy value of 100 g of blueberries is only 40 kcal. But in the harvest of berries there is a whole cocktail of useful substances. Blueberries are a natural alternative to synthetic vitamin and mineral complexes.

Blueberries are the guarantee of eternal youth

One of the main advantages of blueberries is anthocyanins.

This plant substance belongs to the group of flavonoids. The berry owes its rich blue color to it. But for humans, the benefits of anthocyanin lies in its powerful antioxidant effect. In simple terms, it provides blueberries with the ability to remove toxins from the body, which accelerate the aging process. The conclusion suggests itself: more blueberries – longer youth.

This fact has been scientifically confirmed by scientists at the Boston University Food Research Center. After testing, the researchers were pleasantly surprised by the results: the berry, unpretentious to growing conditions, is able to start processes that significantly slow down the aging of the body and have a rejuvenating effect. The head of research, by the way, has become an avid blueberry drinker himself and regularly eats blueberries for breakfast.

It is not for nothing that blueberries are often called rejuvenating berries. Her passionate admirers are distinguished by clear skin, shiny hair and invariably cheerful mood. And why wouldn’t they shine!

Regularly including fresh blueberries or dishes from them in the menu, they provide a regular supply of vitamin C, which is “tied” to the production and action of collagen, which is responsible for the absence of wrinkles and the general condition of the skin.

But the influence of wild berries on the body is not limited to external rejuvenating effect.

Scientists have shown that regular consumption of blueberries slows down the natural decline in cognitive ability in the elderly, and also improves short-term memory.

Blueberries are a cure for everything

By right, blueberries can be called not only a storehouse of nutrients useful for the body, but also a natural medicine. The fingers of both hands are not enough to list the healing properties of the berry.

The substances included in its composition have anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, immunostimulating effects. It is nature’s natural antiseptic and antibiotic.

Moreover, not only berries, but also leaves, young shoots of the plant have the same healing properties.

Blueberries are dried, cured and frozen as medicine.

Infusions and decoctions are prepared from the leaves, which are then drunk or used for compresses and lotions.