Primary bilberry health benefits include strengthening the blood vessels, making them more flexible, and allowing them to carry more oxygen to your eye tissues. Bilberry, along with the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, are the only antioxidants found inside the retina of your your eyes.
Your eye are surrounded by tiny blood vessels that not only feed the tissues of the eyeball, but the nerves and muscle around your eyes as well. More blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients coming into your eyes and better waste removal from that area. That means less stress to your eyes.
Bilberry may reduce the effects of occasional eye strain and other age-related eye conditions caused by poor functioning of the eye’s circulatory system.
Bilberry's health benefits come from high levels of tannic acid, cinnamic acids, flavonols, anthocyanidins, and isoflavones, which all contribute to optimal eye health.
Properties of the Bilberry. Bilberry, or European blueberry, belongs to the same family as 200 other berries, including the American blueberry and cranberry. They are one of the most potent sources of anthocyanins, a category of bioflavonoids.
The active ingredients in these berries are called anthcyanocides, which are close relatives of the anthocyanides in grape seed and pycnogenol. This berry contains more of these compounds than any other fruit. They also contains the important antioxidant-support minerals zinc, manganese and selenium.
Bilberry extract strengthens arteries too, allowing them to pump more blood through your body. Bilberry lowers blood pressure, reduces clotting and can lower high blood sugar.
Bilberry helps healing wounds because it sends more blood to the site, reduces oxidation, fights infection, and combines with collagen to rebuild tissues. It has been shown to be helpful in treating ulcers because it increases the production of gastric mucous, which helps line the stomach and prevent ulcers.
Bilberry health benefits as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory have also been used in the treatment and prevention of:
In Europe, bilberry extracts are part of the conventional medical treatment for many eye problems, including:
Cataracts. A cataract is a cloudy or opaque covering that grows over the lens of the eye. What causes cataracts? Constricted blood vessels and free radical damage to the eyes, the end result of years of exposure to sunlight.
A cataract can distort vision by making objects appear vague and fuzzy. Most people who have cataracts are over the age of 60, and cataracts are one of the most common types of degenerative diseases we see today.
Studies have also shown that vitamin E can reverse the development of cataracts and protect the sensitive lens tissue from free radical damage. People with low blood levels of the antioxidant vitamin C and the carotenoids are more likely to develop cataracts, as well as macular degeneration.
Macular Degeneration. The macula is the portion of the eye that distinguishes fine details in your vision. Macular degeneration is a condition whereby the cells of the macula that sense light begin to malfunction or even stop working altogether. One of the leading causes of blindness, macular degeneration is associated with both aging and smoking.
Glaucoma. Bilberry extract is valuable in the treatment of glaucoma due to its beneficial effect on collagen structures in the eye.
Myopia. (nearsightedness) Myopia is caused by excessive stress in the muscles around the eye. Bilberry can relieve that stress enough to help improve your close vision ability.
Night Blindness. Night blindness is the difficulty seeing in low light and adjusting to sudden glare. During the Second World War, British air force pilots munched on bilberries to sharpen their vision during night bombing raids.
More recently, studies have shown that this antioxidant improves night vision, allows quicker adjustment to darkness and sudden glare, such as from the headlights of oncoming cars. The anthocyanosides speed the regeneration of rhodopsin, the purple pigment that is used by the rods in the eye for night vision.
Taking a dose will alleviate this condition for about two hours. The effects wear off after that, and taking supplements as an ongoing routine won't do anything to remedy the problem permanently.
Diabetic Retinopathy. Diabetes causes circulation problems in the eye, as well as everywhere else in the body, both from constricted blood vessels and free radical damage. Bilberry has been shown to be the best treatment for diabetics facing vision impairment.
Bilberry is often combined with other eye nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin. If you need higher dosages, you can get it separately. Supplemental dosages range from 40-450mg. There is no toxicity or RDA.
Learn more about bilberry supplements at my page on
Protect the Future of Your Food Supply