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Botanical name(s):

Vaccinium myrtillus, Vaccinium uliginosum. Family: Ericaceae

Other name(s):

blueberry, bog whortleberry, northern bilberry

General description

Bilberries are a type of blueberry found in Europe and the Northern U.S. They’re closely related to the U.S. blueberry. The berries and their juice are the most commonly used part of this berry.

In the past, bilberry was used to help eye problems. These include retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. Bomber pilots in WWII would eat bilberries before a flight. They believed that the berries helped vision, especially night vision.

Medically valid uses

There are no valid health uses for bilberry. There is not enough evidence to support the use of the berry for any issue.


Please note that this section reports on claims that have not yet been substantiated through scientific studies.

Bilberry fruit contains anthocyanosides (anthocyanidins). These may strengthen the capillary walls. This effect may protect blood vessels and reduce extra fluid in your body. These are also natural antioxidants.

Bilberry may prevent or slow the progress of macular degeneration. This condition causes your central vision to get worse.

Bilberry is said to help night blindness. But studies have shown that this isn’t true.

Bilberry is claimed to have a diuretic effect. It increases how much urine you make and how much leaves the body. It’s also said to be a urinary tract antiseptic and help with inflammation. Bilberry is also claimed to help control low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). It does this by improving your insulin level.

It may also ease stress and anxiety, and heal gastrointestinal ulcers. Bilberry is also claimed to lower lipids and strengthen connective tissue. Some claims suggest that bilberry may also slow the progression of cataracts.

Dosing format

Bilberry extracts are available in oral tablets and oral capsules. Follow the instructions on the package for the correct dose.

Fresh berries or juice are safe to consume in normal quantities.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their healthcare providers before taking any herbal medicines.

There are no significant food or drug interactions with bilberry.

Medical Reviewers:

  • Poulson, Brittany, RD
  • Wilkins, Joanna, R.D., C.D.