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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 proven health uses for bilberry. There is not enough evidence to support the use of the berry for any issue.


There may be benefits that have not yet been proven through research.

Bilberry fruit contains one of the richest sources of 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 has been used to help night blindness.

Bilberry may have a diuretic effect. It increases how much urine you make and how much leaves the body. It may 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 ease stress and anxiety, and heal gastrointestinal ulcers. Bilberry may lower blood lipids and strengthen connective tissue. Some claims suggest that bilberry may slow the progression of cataracts.

Dosing format

Bilberry extracts come in oral tablets, capsules, drops, powder, and teas. Follow the instructions on the package for the correct dose.

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

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

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

There are no major food or medicine interactions with bilberry.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bianca Garilli MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Chris Southard RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals RN BSN MPH
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
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