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Bilberry

Parts Used & Where Grown

A close relative of American blueberry, bilberry grows in northern Europe, Canada, and the United States. The ripe berries are primarily used in modern herbal extracts.

How It Works

Anthocyanosides, the flavonoid complex in bilberries, speed the regeneration of rhodopsin, the purple pigment that is used by the rods in the eye for night vision.1 While earlier trials suggested that taking bilberry could benefit people with night blindness,2,3 more recent trials with healthy volunteers have found no effect of bilberry on night vision.4,5 Preliminary human trials conducted in Europe show that bilberry may prevent cataracts,6 and may even help to treat people with mild retinopathies (such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy).7,8 Anthocyanosides are potent antioxidants.9 They support normal formation of connective tissue and strengthen capillaries in the body. Anthocyanosides may also improve capillary and venous blood flow. Bilberry may also prevent blood vessel thickening due to diabetes.10

Bilberry protects cholesterol from oxidizing in test tubes.11 While this action is thought to help prevent atherosclerosis, no human trials have studied whether bilberry may be useful in the regard.

References

1. Sala D, Rolando M, Rossi PL, et al. Effect of anthocyanosides on visual performance at low illumination. Minerva Oftalmol 1979;21:283-5.

2. Jayle GE, Aubry M, Gavini H, et al. Study concerning the action of anthocyanoside extracts of Vaccinium myrtillus on night vision. Ann Ocul 1965;198:556-62 [in French].

3. Belleoud L, Leluan D, Boyer YS. Study on the effects of anthocyanin glycosides on the nocturnal vision of air controllers. Rev Med Aeronaut Spatiale 1966;18:3-7.

4. Zadok D, Levy Y, Glovinsky Y. The effect of anthocyanosides in a multiple oral dose on night vision. Eye 1999;13:734-6.

5. Muth ER, Laurent JM, Jasper P. The effect of bilberry nutritional supplementation on night visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. Altern Med Rev 2000;5:164-73.

6. Bravetti G. Preventive medical treatment of senile cataract with vitamin E and anthocyanosides: Clinical evaluation. Ann Ottalmol Clin Ocul 1989;115:109 [in Italian].

7. Perossini M, Guidi G, Chiellini S, Siravo D. Diabetic and hypertensive retinopathy therapy with Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides (Tegens®): Double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Ann Ottalmol Clin Ocul 1987;12:1173-90 [in Italian].

8. Scharrer A, Ober M. Anthocyanosides in the treatment of retinopathies. Klin Monatsblatt Augenheilk 1981;178:386–9.

9. Salvayre R, Braquet P, Perruchot T, DousteBlazy L. Comparison of the scavenger effect of bilberry anthocyanosides with various flavonoids. Proceed Intl Bioflavonoids Symposium, Munich, 1981, 437-42.

10. Boniface R, Miskulin M, Robert AM. Pharmacological properties of myrtillus anthocyanosides: Correlation with results of treatment of diabetic microangiopathy. In Flavonoids and Bioflavonoids, L Farkas, M Gabors, FL Kallay, eds. Ireland: Elsevier, 1985, 293-301.

11. Francesca Rasetti M, Caruso D, Galli G, et al. Extracts of Ginkgo biloba L. leaves and Vaccinium myrtillus L. fruits prevent photo induced oxidation of low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Phytomedicine 1997;3:335-8.

12. Steigerwalt RD, Gianni B, Paolo M, et al. Effects of Mirtogenol on ocular blood flow and intraocular hypertension in asymptomatic subjects. Mol Vis 2008;14:1288-92.

13. Scharrer A, Ober M. Anthocyanosides in the treatment of retinopathies. Klin Monatsblatt Augenheilk 1981;178:386–9.

14. Perossini M, Guidi G, Chiellini S, Siravo D. Diabetic and hypertensive retinopathy therapy with Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides (Tegens®): Double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Ann Ottalmol Clin Ocul 1987;113:1173-7 [in Italian].

15. Scharrer A, Ober M. Anthocyanosides in the treatment of retinopathies. Klin Monatsblatt Augenheilk 1981;178:386–9.

16. Mian E, Curri SB, Lietti A, Bombardelli E. Anthocyanosides and the walls of microvessels: Further aspects of the mechanism of action of their protective in syndromes due to abnormal capillary fragility. Minerva Med 1977;68:3565-81.

17. Shim SH, Kim JM, Choi CY, et al. Ginkgo biloba extract and bilberry anthocyanins improve visual function in patients with normal tension glaucoma. J Med Food 2012;15:818-23.

18. Van Acker SA, van den Berg DJ, Tromp MN, et al. Structural aspects of antioxidant activity of flavonoids. Free Rad Biol Med1996; 20:331-42.

19. Salvayre R, Braquet P, Perruchot T, DousteBlazy L. Comparison of the scavenger effect of bilberry anthocyanosides with various flavonoids. Proceed Intl Bioflavonoids Symposium, Munich, 1981, 437-42.

20. Bravetti G. Preventive medical treatment of senile cataract with vitamin E and anthocyanosides: Clinical evaluation. Ann Ottalmol Clin Ocul 1989;115:109 [in Italian].

21. Alfieri R, Sole P. Influencedes anthocyanosides admintres parvoie parenterale su l'adaptoelectroretinogramme du lapin. CR Soc Biol 1964;15:2338 [in French].

22. Jayle GE, Aubry M, Gavini H, et al. Study concerning the action of anthocyanoside extracts of Vaccinium myrtillus on night vision. Ann Ocul 1965;198:556-62 [in French].

23. Belleoud L, Leluan D, Boyer YS. Study on the effects of anthocyanin glycosides on the nocturnal vision of air controllers. Rev Med Aeronaut Spatiale 1966;18:3-7.

24. Zadok D, Levy Y, Glovinsky Y. The effect of anthocyanosides in a multiple oral dose on night vision. Eye 1999;13:734-6.

25. Muth ER, Laurent JM, Jasper P. The effect of bilberry nutritional supplementation on night visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. Altern Med Rev 2000;5:164-73.

26. Guo H, Ling W. The update of anthocyanins on obesity and type 2 diabetes: experimental evidence and clinical perspectives. Rev Endocr Metab Disord 2015;16:1–13.

27. Rozanska D, Regulska-Ilow B. The significance of anthocyanins in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Adv Clin Exp Med 2018;27:135–42.

28. Karcheva-Bahchevanska D, Lukova P, Nikolova M, et al. Effect of Extracts of Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) on Amyloglucosidase and alpha-Glucosidase Activity. Folia Med (Plovdiv) 2017;59:197–202.

29. Guo X, Yang B, Tan J, et al. Associations of dietary intakes of anthocyanins and berry fruits with risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Eur J Clin Nutr 2016;70:1360–7.

30. Rocha D, Caldas A, da Silva B, et al. Effects of blueberry and cranberry consumption on type 2 diabetes glycemic control: A systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2019;59:1816–28.

31. Burton-Freeman B, Brzezinski M, Park E, et al. A Selective Role of Dietary Anthocyanins and Flavan-3-ols in Reducing the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Review of Recent Evidence. Nutrients 2019;11.

32. Cao H, Ou J, Chen L, et al. Dietary polyphenols and type 2 diabetes: Human Study and Clinical Trial. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2018:1-9.

33. Yang L, Ling W, Du Z, et al. Effects of Anthocyanins on Cardiometabolic Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Adv Nutr 2017;8:684–93.

34. de Mello V, Lankinen M, Lindstrom J, et al. Fasting serum hippuric acid is elevated after bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) consumption and associates with improvement of fasting glucose levels and insulin secretion in persons at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Mol Nutr Food Res 2017;61.

35. Hoggard N, Cruickshank M, Moar K, et al. A single supplement of a standardized bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) extract (36 % wet weight anthocyanins) modifies glycaemic response in individuals with type 2 diabetes controlled by diet and lifestyle. J Nutr Sci 2013;2:e22.

36. Ghosh D, Konishi T. Anthocyanins and anthocyanin-rich extracts: role in diabetes and eye function. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2007;16:200–8.

37. Scharrer A, Ober M. Anthocyanosides in the treatment of retinopathies. Klin Monatsblatt Augenheilk 1981;178:386–9.

38. Perossini M, Guidi G, Chiellini S, Siravo D. Diabetic and hypertensive retinopathy therapy with Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides (Tegens®): Double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Ann Ottalmol Clin Ocul 1987;113:1173-7 [in Italian].

39. Petlevski R, Hadzija M, Slijepcevic M, Juretic D. Effect of 'antidiabetis' herbal preparation on serum glucose and fructosamine in NOD mice. J Ethnopharmacol 2001;75:181–4.

40. Stefanescu Braic R, Vari C, Imre S, et al. Vaccinium Extracts as Modulators in Experimental Type 1 Diabetes. J Med Food 2018;21:1106–12.

41. Kim J, Kim C, Lee Y, et al. Vaccinium myrtillus extract prevents or delays the onset of diabetes-induced blood-retinal barrier breakdown. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2015;66:236–42.

42. Putta S, Yarla N, Kumar K, et al. Preventive and Therapeutic Potentials of Anthocyanins in Diabetes and Associated Complications. Curr Med Chem 2018;25:5347–71.

43. Nabavi S, Habtemariam S, Daglia M, et al. Anthocyanins as a potential therapy for diabetic retinopathy. Curr Med Chem 2015;22:51–8.

44. Scharrer A, Ober M. Anthocyanosides in the treatment of retinopathies. Klin Monatsblatt Augenheilk 1981;178:386–9.

45. Srivastava R, Dikshit M, Srimal RC, Dhawan BN. Anti-thrombotic effect of curcumin. Thromb Res 1985;40:413-7.

46. Srivastava KC, Bordia A, Verma SK. Curcumin, a major component of food spice turmeric (Curcuma longa) inhibits aggregation and alters eicosanoid metabolism in human blood platelets. Prost Leuk Essen Fat Acids. 1995;52:223-7.

47. Pulliero G, Montin S, et al. Ex vivo study of the inhibitory effects of Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) anthocyanosides on human platelet aggregation. Fitoterapia 1989;60:69-75.

48. Liu J. Effect of Paeonia obovata 801 on metabolism of thromboxane B2 and arachidonic acid and on platelet aggregation in patients with coronary heart disease and cerebral thrombosis. Chin Med J 1983;63:477-81 [in Chinese].

49. Griffith JQ. Clinical application of quercetin: preliminary report. J Am Pharm Assoc 1953;42:68-9.

50. Shanno RL. Rutin: a new drug for the treatment of increased capillary fragility. Am J Med Sci 1946;211:539-43.

51. Scharrer A, Ober M. Anthocyanosides in the treatment of retinopathies. Klin Monatsblatt Augenheilk 1981;178:386–9.

52. Mian E, Curri SB, Lietti A, Bombardelli E. Anthocyanosides and the walls of microvessels: Further aspects of the mechanism of action of their protective in syndromes due to abnormal capillary fragility. Minerva Med 1977;68:3565-81.

53. Alfieri R, Sole P. Influencedes anthocyanosides admintres parvoie parenterale su l'adaptoelectroretinogramme du lapin. CR Soc Biol 1964;15:2338 [in French].

54. Jayle GE, Aubry M, Gavini H, et al. Study concerning the action of anthocyanoside extracts of Vaccinium myrtillus on night vision. Ann Ocul 1965;198:556-62 [in French].

55. Belleoud L, Leluan D, Boyer YS. Study on the effects of anthocyanin glycosides on the nocturnal vision of air controllers. Rev Med Aeronaut Spatiale 1966;18:3-7.

56. Zadok D, Levy Y, Glovinsky Y. The effect of anthocyanosides in a multiple oral dose on night vision. Eye 1999;13:734-6.

57. Muth ER, Laurent JM, Jasper P. The effect of bilberry nutritional supplementation on night visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. Altern Med Rev 2000;5:164-73.

58. Tyler VE. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 51-4.

59. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1988, 101-2.

60. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 209.

61. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Health and Healing. Roseville, CA: Prima Health, 2000, 47-54.

62. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Health and Healing. Roseville, CA: Prima Health, 2000, 47-54.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

Learn more about TraceGains, the company.

The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.