Macular degeneration and Cataracts
Cataracts and macular degeneration remain the major cause of blindness and acuity of vision deterioration in the
elderly. Both pathology have been attributed to damage by free radicals, there has been a great deal of interest in
antioxidants. Bilberry's flavonoids are known as potent antioxidants, scavenging free radicals and used for multiple
age-related ocular disorders. Thus, bilberry may have health benefits on these conditions. In a study of OXYS rats, rats
were given control diets or those supplemented with 25% bilberry extract (dosage- 20 mg on kg of body weight
including 4.5 mg of antocianidin) or vitamin E (dosage- 40 mg/kg). The testing at 3 month have showed that more then
70% of control OXYS rats had cataract and macular degeneration while the supplementation of bilberry extract
completely prevented impairments in the lenses and retina. [A2] This study does suggests the potential health benefits
of bilberry on certain eye conditions, but more studies are needed to confirm the results.
Epidemiological studies suggest that diets with a high intake of vegetables and fruits may reduce the incidence of
degenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease. In a study of rats, prolonged administration of blueberry / bilberry
at dosage of 3.2 mg kg(-1)day (oral), of the anthocyanins significantly enhanced short-term memory, but not long-term
memory in cognitive performance using step-down inhibitory avoidance, open field, elevated plus-maze, and radial
maze tasks. Another interesting finding was that lyophilised bilberry/blueberry improved working memory in the radial
maze, with significant differences observed during earlier sessions. These results suggest that lyophilised bilberry /
blueberry may have health benefit of preventing memory deficits, one of the symptoms related to Alzheimer's disease.
However, more studies are needed to verify this health benefit claim. [A1]
NIGHT VISION (EYE)
People always say, "Bilberry is good for eye." How does bilberry benefit our eye? Cells taken up bilberry anthocyanins
could modulate adverse effects of pyridinium bisretinoid A2E. Pyridinium bisretinoid A2E is an autofluorescent pigment;
it accumulates in retinal pigment epithelial cells with age and in some retinal disorders. It can mediate a detergent-like
perturbation of cell membranes and light-induced damage to the cell.  Bilberry may also benefit cataract and
glaucoma patients. . While, some researchers couldn't find any effect of bilberry on eye nor draw a conclusion
about bilberry's effect on eye [1,2]
In a study, researchers generated a mouse model of endotoxin-induced uveitis (EIU) that shows retinal inflammation, as
well as uveitis, by injecting lipopolysaccharide. We pretreated the mice with anthocyanin-rich bilberry extract and
analyzed the effect on the retina. Anthocyanin-rich bilberry extract prevented the impairment of photoreceptor cell
function, as measured by electroretinogram. [A4]
ABSORPTION OF BILBERRY ANTHOCYANINS
The maximum plasma concentration of total bilberry anthocyanins happens within 1.5 hr after ingestion of bilberry
anthocyanins in 4 healthy elderly women.  Bilberry anthocyanins are efficiently absorbed from the small in rats. 
Bilberry anthocyanins are also efficiently absorbed in anesthetized rats. 
BILBERRY DEGRADATION IN PROCESSING
Processing can degrade the quercetin in bilberry seriously. Quercetin content decreased markedly (40%) in bilberries
during 9 months of storage at 20 C. 
DOSAGE OF BILBERRY EXTRACTS
Based on most commercial bilberry products, the standardized bilberry extract contains 36% bilberry anthocyanosides.
The dosage is usually from 160 to 320 mg of bilberry extract. However, the website of University of Maryland suggests
dosage of 80-120 mg daily of bilberry extract (25% anthocyanidin) for general purpose.
BILBERRY SIDE EFFECTS....
Bilberry side effects can be serious. Bilberry possesses anti-platelet activity, it may interact with NSAIDs, particularly
aspirin.  Excessive drinking bilberry juice may cause diarrhea.  One study of 2295 people given bilberry extract
found a 4% incidence of side effects or adverse events. Further, bilberry side effects may include mild digestive
distress, skin rashes and drowsiness.  Chronic uses of the bilberry leaf may lead to serious side effects. High doses
of bilberry leaf can be poisonous.
1. Muth et al, The effect of bilberry nutritional supplementation on night visual acuity and contrast sensitivity, Altern Med Rev. 2000 Apr;5(2):164-73. 2. Canter
et al. Anthocyanosides of Vaccinium mrtillus (bilberry) for night vision-a systematic review of placebo-controlled trials. 2004Jan-Feb;49(1):38-50.3. Hou DX,
Potential Mechanisms of Cancer Chemoprevention by Anthocyanins, Curr Mol Med. 2003 Mar,3(2):149-59.4. Katsube et al Induction of apoptosis in cancer
cells by Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and the anthocyanins., J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Jan 1;51(1):68-75. 5. Bomser et al, In vitro anticancer activity of fruit
extracts from Vaccinium species, Planta Med. 1996 Jun;62(3):212-6. 6. Zhao C et al, Effects of commercial anthocyanin-rich extracts on colonic cancer and
nontumorigenic colonic cell growth, J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Oct 6;52(20):6122-8. 7. Jang YP et al, Anthocyanins Protect Against A2E Photooxidation and
Membrane Permeabilization in Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells, Photochem Photobiol. 2005 Dec 1. 8. Chatterjee A et al, Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori in
vitro by various berry extracts, with enhanced susceptibility to clarithromycin, Mol Cell Biochem. 2004 Oct;265(1-2):19-26. 9. Puupponen-Pimia R et al,
Bioactive berry compounds-novel tools against human pathogens, Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2005 Apr;67(1):8-18. Epub 2004 Dec 2. 10. Cicero AF et al,
What do herbalists suggest to diabetic patients in order to improve glycemic control? Evaluation of scientific evidence and potential risks. Acta Diabetol. 2004
Sep;41(3):91-8. 11. Viljanen K et al, Inhibition of protein and lipid oxidation in liposomes by bilberry phenolics, J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Dec
1;52(24):7419-24.12. Ichiyanagi T et al, Simultaneous comparison of relative reactivities of twelve major anthocyanins in bilberry towards reactive nitrogen
species, Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2004 Nov;52(11):1312-5. 13 Roy S, Anti-angiogenic property of edible bilberries, Free Radic Res. 2002 Sep;36(9):1023-31.
14. Head KA, Natural therapies for ocular disorders, part two: cataracts and glaucoma, Altern Med Rev. 2001 Apr;6(2):141-66. 15. Influence of domestic
processing and storage on flavonol contents in bilberries J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Jul;48(7):2960-5. 16. Talavera S et al, Anthocyanins are efficiently
absorbed from the small intestine in rats, J Nutr. 2004 Sep;134(9):2275-9. 17. Savickiene N et al, Importance of biologically active components and plants in
the prevention of complications of diabetes mellitus, Medicina (Kaunas). 2002;38(10):970-5. 18. Bilberry, Botanical.com, A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve,
April 21, 2005. 19. Wholehealthmd.com, April 21, 2005. 20. Eandi M. Post Marketing Investigation on TegensW preparatin with respect to side effects.
Unpublished resuts. Cited by Morazoni P et al, Vaccinium myrtillus Bilberry, Fitoterapia 1996;67:3-19. 21. Talavera S. found that bilberry anthocyanins are
efficiently absorbed in anesthetized rats. J Nutr. 2003 Dec;133(12):4178-82. 22. Cao G et al, Anthocyanins are absorbed in glycated forms in elderly women: a
pharmacokinetic study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 May; 73(5):920-6. 23. guerrini M. Report on clinical trial of bilberry anthocyanosides in the treatment of venous
insufficiency of the lower limbs. Instituto di Patalogia Speciale Medica e Methodologia Clinica, Universita di Siena. 1987 24. Corsi S. Report on trial of bilberry
anthocyanosides (Tegens - Inverni delta Beffa) in the medical treatment of venous insufficiency of the lower limbs. Casa di Cura S. Chiara, Florence, Italy.
1987. 25. Gatta L. Controlled clinical trial among patients designed to assess the therapeutic efficacy and safety of Tegens 160. Ospedale Filippo del Ponte,
Varese, Italy 1982. 26. Herbal medication: potential for adverse interactions with analgesic drugs. Abebe W. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2002 Dec;27(6):391-401. 27.
Hoekstra JH et al Fruit juice malabsorption: not only fructose. Acta Paediatr. 1995 Nov;84(11):1241-4. 28. www.richters.com online publication Bilberry
Poisonous? Conrad Richter, December 20, 1999.  Bao L et al, Protective effects of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) extract on KBrO3-induced kidney
damage in mice. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Jan 23;56(2):420-5. Epub 2007 Dec 20 [A1] Ramirez MR, et al, Effect of lyophilised Vaccinium berries on memory,
anxiety and locomotion in adult rats. Pharmacol Res. 2005 Dec;52(6):457-62. A2 Fursova AZh, et al, Dietary supplementation with bilberry extract prevents
macular degeneration and cataracts in senesce-accelerated OXYS rats Adv Gerontol. 2005;16:76-9. A3 Yamaura K et al,, Anthocyanins from bilberry
(Vaccinium myrtillus L.) alleviate pruritus in a mouse model of chronic allergic contact dermatitis. Pharmacognosy Res. 2011 Jul;3(3):173-7. A4 Miyake S et
al, Vision preservation during retinal inflammation by anthocyanin-rich bilberry extract: cellular and molecular mechanism. Lab Invest. 2011 Sep 5.
|Health Benefits of Bilberry side effects, Dosage
Bilberry for eye? December 16, 2011
Discuss with your doctor before taking any alternative medicine. This article is for
reference only, it is not a medical advice. All rights reserved. Do not copy this article to
other website or blog.
Bilberry, a low-growing shrub, is often called European blueberry. It is because bilberry grows abundantly in the mountainous areas of Europe.
Bilberry has sharp edged, green branches and black wrinkled berries. Bilberry is closely related to American Blueberry. Bilberry grows in very
acidic, nutrient-poor soils throughout the temperate and subarctic regions of the world. Bilberry has a creamy white meat. Bilberry fruit is smaller
and darker than that of blueberry.
Bilberry is suggested to improve night vision, there is a story that bilberry was used by pilots in World War II to use improve night vision. However, a
recent study suggests that consumption of bilberry may not have such effects. [Wikipedia.org] On the other hand, probably because it is rich in
antioxidants, it does have many other health benefits. Bilberry fruits contain tannins. It may help treat diarrhea, sore throat, and mouth
inflammations.  Bilberry contains various anthocyanosides, which may fortify blood vessel walls, improve blood flow and maintain good
circulation. They may also strengthen collagen to maintain healthy connective tissue.  Potassium bromate an oxidizing agent used as a food
additive, may cause kidney damage by the generation of oxygen free radicals. Researchers found five-day oral administration of bilberry extract at
dosages of 50, 100, and 200 mg/kg resulted in a reversal in serum BUN and creatinine to normal levels and decreased kidney malondialdehyde,
nitric oxide, and xanthine oxidase levels. Also, bilberry extract/supplement improved oxygen radical absorbance capacity levels in kidney tissue. 
Bilberry has been used in many food products, such as jams, pies, cobblers, and cakes. Bilberry tea is also available. To prepare bilberry jam,
combine 3 lb. of bilberry fruit with 1.5 lb of sugar and 1 cup of water. Boil for 40 minutes. 
BILBERRY EXTRACT - SUPPLEMENTS
Bilberry extracts are made from bilberries; the fruit of the bilberry plant. The bilberries are extracted and concentrated to fortify the anthocyanins
levels. Anthocyanins are the coloring agents in the skin and juice of the bilberry. These bilberry anthocyanins are flavonoids.
genus Vaccinium; family Ericaceae; species Vaccinium myrtillus L
Health benefits of bilberries....
Bilberry is one of the most frequently suggested herbal remedies in Italy. Bilberry possesses of various potential
health benefits. Moderate consumption of bilberry extract may have the benefits of lowering the risk of cardiovascular
disease or improving visual functions.  Bilberry is best known as a specific for the eyes. In World War II, British Royal
Air Force noticed that their night vision was sharper when they ate bilberry. .
Bilberry fruits have been traditionally used as an astringent, and a remedy for diarrhoea, discharges, dysentery, scurvy
and urinary issues. A decoction of bilberry leaves or bark of its root is traditionally used for ulcers in the mouth and
throat.  Bilberry extracts have been thought to have benefits of capillaries strengthening. Some people even call
bilberry - a circulatory micro-plumber. Anyway, their primary use is for eye health and vision, microcirculation, spider
veins and varicose veins.
RESEARCH FINDINGS-BENEFITS OF BILBERRY
Bilberry anthocyanins are antioxidants, these antioxidants contribute the health benefits of bilberry. Bilberry
anthocyanins protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Bilberry anthocyanins are believed to have specific
effects on both the blood vessels and on the blood cells. Through bilberry action, the capillaries become better for
stretching. Blood flow increases and red blood cells can deform easily into a shape to pass through very narrow
The antioxidant protection toward lipid oxidation was best provided by lingonberry and bilberry phenolics followed by
black currant and raspberry phenolics. Bilberry phenolics exhibited very good overall antioxidant activity toward protein
oxidation. In bilberries, anthocyanins contributed the most to the antioxidant effect by inhibiting the formation of both
hexanal and protein carbonyls.  Twelve major bilberry anthocyanins have been identified that could react with nitric
oxide (N)) and peroxynitrite (ONOO-) using capillary zone electrophoresis. 
Anthocyanosides may strengthen blood vessels, improve circulation, and prevent the oxidation of LDL ("bad")
cholesterol, cholesterol is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis may lead to heart attack and stroke.
Bilberry extract contains anthocyanins and these chemicals allows bilberry possess of anticancer activity. Three
mechanisms for bilberry's anti-tumor activities: (1) antioxidation (2) anticarcinogensis and (3) apoptosis induction of
tumor cells may be involved. 
In vitro study, bilberry extract was effective to inhibit the growth of HL60 human leukemia cells and HCT116 colon carcinoma cells. Bilberry extract
contains a large amount of anthocyanins. Pure delphinidin and malvidin (isolated from the bilberry) induced apoptosis in HL60 cells while
delphinidon and the glycoside (isolated from the bilberry extract) inhibited the growth of HCT116 cells . Some other studies also demonstrated the
anti-cancer activities of bilberry. . Bilberry extracts were shown to inhibit the growth of colon-cancer-derived HT-29 cells.  Bilberry was shown to
sinhibit both H2O2 as well as TNF alpha induced VEGF expression by the human keratinocytes. 
Chronic venous insufficiency
This condition occurs when valves in veins in the legs that carry blood to the heart are damaged. Researchers have studied the potential benefits of
bilberry extracts on circulatory insufficiency. Clinical trials have shown bilberry's effectiveness on venous insufficiency of the lower limbs. Bilberry
induced increase both in flexibility of the capillaries, bilberry restored normal blood flow. [23, 24] Another study demonstrated bilberry extract was
able to treat varicose veins in the legs.  Subjects treated with bilberry test demonstrated improvement in varicose syndrome such as cramps,
heaviness, swelling of the calf and ankle etc.
Chronic allergic contact dermatitis
In a study, BALB/c mice with chronic allergic contact dermatitis induced by 3 weeks of repeated application of 2,4,6-trinitro-1-chlorobenzene (TNCB)
were administered Bilberon-25 (a bilberry extract) orally for 3 weeks after sensitization with TNCB. TNCB is a chemical causing pruritus and
inflammation. Treatment with the bilberry extract significantly attenuated the TNCB-induced increase in scratching behaviour, but dexamethasone
did not. In contrast, ear swelling was ameliorated by dexamethasone treatment, and significantly decreased by the bilberry extract. Thus,
anthocyanins from bilberry may have health benefits of treating chronic pruritus which can occur in patients suffered from inflammatory skin
diseases such as atopic dermatitis. [A3] It is nice to see the bilberry extract worked better than dexamethasone in the study, but more studies are
needed to support the health claim.
Blberry may benefit diabetic patients, by preventing the complications of diabetes mellitus.  Animal studies suggest bilberry may have benefits
for managing blood sugar levels. However, more research is needed.
Bilberry fruits contain antimicrobial compounds, eg phenolics and organic acids, intake of bilberry may benefit people at risk of certain infections.
Bilberry possesses activities against Salmonella and Staphylococcus.  Bilberry extract may have inhibitory effect on Helicobacter pylori growth in
in vitro studies.