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Last modified: 08/11/2014






Biological Name


Vaccinium myrtillus

Other Names:


Black whortleberry, blueberry, burren myrle, dyeberry, huckleberry, hurleberry, whinberry, whortleberry, wineberry, Bilberry

Parts Used



Active Compounds


Anthocyanosides, the bioflavonoid complex in bilberries, are potent antioxidants. They support normal formation of connective tissue and strengthen capillaries in the body. Anthocyanosides may also improve capillary and venous blood flow.



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 for the treatment of 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.

Traditionally, both the leaves and berries of this shrub have been used as an astringent. A decoction of the berries was employed for fevers. The juice of the berries was used as a gargle and mouthwash for catarrh.

Extracts of bilberry have antiviral in cell culture for herpes simplex virus II, influenza, and vaccinia viruses. It kills or inhibits the growth of funguses, yeasts, and bacteria. It also kills protozoans such as Trichomonas vaginalis. Bilberry is an anti-inflammatory herb. Anthocyanins in the herb act to prevent capillary fragility and inhibit platelet aggregation. It also has potential for the prevention of thrombosis and may reverse attacks of angina from results of animal studies. It was found to prevent atherosclerosis in cholesterol loaded animals.

Further, bilberry is an antihistamine; it improves vision and has potential for the treatment of pigmentary retinitis.

Remedies For


Bilberry may help in the treatment of:


Macular degeneration
Night blindness
Varicose veins

Recent research showed that Bilberry extract has promising anti-ulcer activity, both preventive and curative. It also has shown anti-cancer properties in animal experiments.

When administered to diabetes patients, Bilberry normalized capillary collagen thickness and blood sugar levels in humans and animals.



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.

A shrubby perennial plant that grows in the sandy areas of the northern US and in the woods and forest meadows of Europe. The angular, green, branched stem grows from a creeping rootstock to a height of 1 to 1.5 feet. The leaves are alternate, obovate to ovate, weakly serrate, dark green and shiny on top and 0.5 to 1 inch long. The reddish pink or red and white, solitary, auxiliary flowers have a pitcher shaped corolla and appear in May and June. The fruit is usually blue-black; it may be red in some cases. The berry is 5-seeded.



People often take 240-480 mg per day of bilberry herbal extract in capsules or tablets standardized to provide 25 % anthocyanosides.

Berries: 1 teaspoon dried berries with 1 cup of water, 1 cup per day

Tincture: Take 15 to 40 drops in water, 3 or more times a day as needed.



In recommended amounts, there are no known side effects with bilberry extract.

Bilberry does not interact with commonly prescribed drugs, and there are no known contraindications to its use during pregnancy or lactation.

Leaves can produce symptoms of poisoning if used over long periods.


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