Information about the herb Bilberry

Vaccinium myrtillus, also known as Huckleberry is part of the Verbenaceae plant family.Bilberry is a small perennial, ornamental shrub commonly found in damp woodlands, moorlands and in mountainous areas of Europe, Britain, Siberia and the Barbary Coast. Bilberry is a relative of Blueberry, Cranberry andHuckleberry.

General Information
Plant Constituents
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)
General Information

Botanical Name: Vaccinium myrtillus

Common Name: Blaeberries (Scotland), Whortleberry, Wineberry, Huckleberry, Hurtleberry

Plant Family: Verbenaceae


  • It has been used as a medicinal herb since the 16th century primarily to treat diarrhea.
  • During World War II, British Royal Air Force pilots ate Bilberry preserves before night missions as an aid to night vision and to help them quickly adjust to darkness

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Plant Constituents of Bilberry



  • Anthocyanin [fruit] (Anthocyanosides (anthocyanidins)
  • Flavenoids [fruit] (plant pigments with antioxidant properties)
  • anthocyanidins – compounds which:
  • build strong, healthy capillaries that carry vital nutrients to eye muscles and nerves
  • support and protect collagen structures in the blood vessels of the eyes
  • improve circulation to all areas of the body
  • prevent blood platelets from clumping together
  • boost the production of rhodopsin, a pigment that:
  • improves night vision
  • helps the eye adapt to light changes.
  • Glucoquinine
  • Quinic acid
  • Sugars
  • Tannin
  • Vitamins A (for sharp vision)
  • Vitamin C (to help form collagen and for growth and repair of tissue cells and blood vessels)


  • antibiotic [an agent that destroys or stops the growth of micro-organisms]
  • anti-galactagogue [an agent to dry up milk in nursing mothers]
  • anti-inflammatory [an agent to ease inflammation]
  • antioxidant [contributing to the oxidation of free radicals which are believed to contribute to premature aging and dementia]
  • antiseptic [an agent for inhibiting the growth of microorganism on living tissue or destroying pathogenic or putrefactive bacteria]
  • astringent [an agent that contracts organic tissue, reducing secretions or discharges]
  • diuretic [an agent that increases the volume and flow of urine which cleanses the urinary system]
  • refrigerant [an agent that lowers abnormal body heat, relieves thirst and gives a feeling of coolness]

The berries are able to pass through the stomach without affecting it to work in the Small Intestines

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Usage of Bilberry

The ancient herbalist Dioscorides spoke highly of Bilberry

Medicinal Parts Used: Leaves, root, berries (dark purple berries look and taste similar to American Blueberry and are ripe to pick in late summer)

  • Bilberries may be eaten fresh or in dried forms
  • Bilberry extract should be standardized to contain 25% anthocyanidins

Bilberry has antioxidant properties which help prevent a number of long-term illnesses including:

  • cancer
  • chronic fatigue syndrome (may relieve symptoms)
  • heart disease
  • macular degeneration (a disease of the retina that can lead to blindness)

Bilberry is commonly used for:

Blood Conditions

  • blood disorders
  • prevents capillary fragility
  • reduces clotting
  • stops bleeding
  • thins the blood
  • thrombosis
  • varicose veins

Brain and Nervous System Conditions

  • improves blood supply to the nervous system

Cardiovascular Conditions

  • angina
  • atherosclerosis (plaque in blood vessels that leads to blockage, heart attacks and strokes)
  • helps to reduce the risk of blood clot which may leads to heart attacks and strokes
  • improves circulation
  • lowers blood pressure
  • prevents the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • stimulates the release of vasodilators
  • strengthen blood vessels,
  • vascular disorders

Female Conditions

  • dries up milk during weaning 

Genitourinary Conditions

  • dropsy
  • gravel
  • urinary complaints

Immune System Conditions

  • infectious diseases

Metabolic Conditions

  • diabetes – type 2 (adult onset) diabetes (lowers blood sugar)

Parasitic Conditions

  • expels parasites

Gastrointestinal Conditions

  • derangements of the bowel
  • diarrhea (reduces the intestinal inflammation associated with this condition)
  • dysentery
  • intestinal putrefaction (which produces flatulence/gas/wind)
  • regulates bowel action
  • soothes the digestive tract
  • stimulates appetite
  • stomach problems
  • stomach ulcers (may help prevent stomach ulcers caused by stress, medications, alcohol etc.)

Eye Conditions

  • improves visual accuracy in healthy people
  • natural antioxidant preventing free radical damage to the eye
  • poor vision and ‘night blindness’
  • improves the microcirculation and regeneration of retinal purple, a substance required for good eyesight
  • protects eyes from eyestrain or fatigue

Bilberry is used in eye diseases such as:

  • cataracts
  • glaucoma
  • macular degeneration
  • myopia
  • nearsightedness
  • pigmentosa
  • retinitis (Bilberry may help protect the retina, the nerve layer lining the back of the eye that sends nerve impulses to the visual areas of the brain)

Other Conditions

  • discharges 
  • scurvy
  • ulceration of mouth and throat
  • typhoid fever

Other Uses

  • berries are used as a dessert
  • blue dye
  • coloring wine
  • jams and preserves
  • liqueurs and wines

The leaves of Bilberry are used in extract form or as a tea for:

  • catarrhal enteritis
  • diarrhea
  • nausea and indigestion
  • stomach cramps
  • vomiting

and as a gargle or mouthwash for:

  • stomatitis

Respiratory Tract Conditions

The leaves of Bilberry are used in extract form or as a tea for:

  • coughs
  • mild inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat

and as a gargle or mouthwash for:

  • respiratory catarrhal problems
  • inflamed gums
  • leucoplasia (inflammation of the tongue characterized by white patches)

Externally the leaves or bark of the root  are used as a local application for:

  • burns
  • skin problems
  • sores
  • ulcers
  • wounds (helps wounds heal faster)


Recommended dosage is as follows:


Bilberry has been used safely in children 2 years of age and older for the treatment of diarrhea:

  • 4 to 8g crushed, dried bilberry added to 150 mL (2/3 of a cup) of cold water and brought to a boil for 10 minutes and strained while hot. Taken several times daily until diarrhea resolves.


  • 5 to 10g/day dried root

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  • Bilberry fruit and extract are considered generally safe, with no known side effects, however, fresh berries can produce diarrhea in some people and stop it in others
  • Bilberry leaf is safe when used with the correct dosage, however, the leaves can produce symptoms of poisoning and may become toxic if used over long periods

Drug Interactions:

Do not use Bilberry without first talking to your practitioner or healthcare provider if your taking any of the following medications:

Blood Thinning Agents –

Because the anthocyanidins in Bilberry may inhibit blood from clotting, there may be an increased risk of bleeding in those taking anthocyanidin extracts from bilberry along with blood thinners.

Those taking Warfarin or other blood thinners in the same class, known as anticoagulants, should be very careful if considering use of Bilberry and should be followed closely by a doctor who will check yourINR (a measurement to indicate, in part, your risk of bleeding).

The whole Bilberry Fruit, therefore, which contains both anthocyanidins and tannins (that may help stop bleeding) is likely safer if you are on a blood thinner than the isolated anthocyanidin extracts.

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Global Herbal Supplies has Bilberry available in the following forms: