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 I just wanted to say thanks for such great customer service on my recent order. I didn't expect to receive it so quickly after just placing the order the other day. This was my first order with your company but will not be my last. Thanks again..Darrin L (Arvada, CO)

Billberry Complex

A close relative of American blueberry, bilberry grows in northern Europe, Canada, and the United States. The ripe berries are primarily used in modern herbal extracts.

Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies): The dried berries and leaves of bilberry have been recommended for a wide variety of conditions, including scurvy, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and diabetes. Perhaps the most sound historical application is the use of the dried berries to treat diarrhea. Modern research of bilberry was partly based on its use by British World War II pilots, who noticed that their night vision improved when they ate bilberry jam prior to night bombing raids.1

Active constituents: Anthocyanosides, the flavonoid complex in bilberries, speed the regeneration of rhodopsin, the purple pigment that is used by the rods in the eye for night vision.2 While earlier trials suggested that taking bilberry could benefit people with night blindness,3 4 more recent trials with healthy volunteers have found no effect of bilberry on night vision.5 6 Preliminary human trials conducted in Europe show that bilberry may prevent cataracts,7 and may even help to treat people with mild retinopathies (such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy).8 9 Anthocyanosides are potent antioxidants.10 They support normal formation of connective tissue and strengthen capillaries in the body. Anthocyanosides may also improve capillary and venous blood flow. Bilberry may also prevent blood vessel thickening due to diabetes.11

Bilberry protects cholesterol from oxidizing in test tubes.12 While this action is thought to help prevent atherosclerosis, no human trials have studied whether bilberry may be useful in the regard.

How much is usually taken? Bilberry herbal extract in capsules or tablets standardized to provide 25% anthocyanosides are typically recommended at 240-600 mg per day.13 Herbalists have traditionally recommended taking 1-2 ml two times per day in tincture form, or 20-60 grams of the fruit daily.

Are there any side effects or interactions? In recommended amounts, no side effects have been reported with bilberry extract.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with bilberry.

References:

1. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Health and Healing. Roseville, CA: Prima Health, 2000, 47�54.

2. Sala D, Rolando M, Rossi PL, et al. Effect of anthocyanosides on visual performance at low illumination. Minerva Oftalmol 1979;21:283�5.

3. Jayle GE, Aubry M, Gavini H, et al. Study concerning the action of anthocyanoside extracts of Vaccinium myrtillus on night vision. Ann Ocul 1965;198:556�62 [in French].

4. Belleoud L, Leluan D, Boyer YS. Study on the effects of anthocyanin glycosides on the nocturnal vision of air controllers. Rev Med Aeronaut Spatiale 1966;18:3�7.

5. Zadok D, Levy Y, Glovinsky Y. The effect of anthocyanosides in a multiple oral dose on night vision. Eye 1999;13:734�6.

6. Muth ER, Laurent JM, Jasper P. The effect of bilberry nutritional supplementation on night visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. Altern Med Rev 2000;5:164�73.

7. Bravetti G. Preventive medical treatment of senile cataract with vitamin E and anthocyanosides: Clinical evaluation. Ann Ottalmol Clin Ocul 1989;115:109 [in Italian].

8. Perossini M, Guidi G, Chiellini S, Siravo D. Diabetic and hypertensive retinopathy therapy with Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides (Tegens�): Double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Ann Ottalmol Clin Ocul 1987;12:1173�90 [in Italian].

9. Scharrer A, Ober M. Anthocyanosides in the treatment of retinopathies. Klin Monatsbl Augenheikld Beih 1981;178:386�9.

10. Salvayre R, Braquet P, Perruchot T, DousteBlazy L. Comparison of the scavenger effect of bilberry anthocyanosides with various flavonoids. Proceed Intl Bioflavonoids Symposium, Munich, 1981, 437�42.

11. Boniface R, Miskulin M, Robert AM. Pharmacological properties of myrtillus anthocyanosides: Correlation with results of treatment of diabetic microangiopathy. In Flavonoids and Bioflavonoids, L Farkas, M Gabors, FL Kallay, eds. Ireland: Elsevier, 1985, 293�301.

12. Francesca Rasetti M, Caruso D, Galli G, et al. Extracts of Ginkgo biloba L. leaves and Vaccinium myrtillus L. fruits prevent photo induced oxidation of low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Phytomedicine 1997;3:335�8.

13. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Health and Healing. Roseville, CA: Prima Health, 2000, 47�54.

 

BILLBERRY COMPLEX

In vitro anticancer activity of fruit extracts from Vaccinium species.

Bomser J; Madhavi DL; Singletary K; Smith MA. Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801, USA. Planta Med 1996 Jun; 62(3): 212-6 PMID: 8693031 UI: 96280467

Fruit extracts of four Vaccinium species (lowbush blueberry, bilberry, cranberry, and lingonberry) were screened for anticarcinogenic compounds by a combination of fractionation and in vitro testing of their ability to induce the Phase II xenobiotic detoxification enzyme quinone reductase (QR) and to inhibit the induction of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), the rate-limiting enzyme in polyamine synthesis, by the tumor promoter phorbol 12- myristate 13-acetate (TPA). The crude extracts, anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin fractions were not highly active in QR induction whereas the ethyl acetate extracts were active QR inducers. The concentrations required to double QR activity (designated CDqr) for the ethyl acetate extracts of lowbush blueberry, cranberry, lingonberry, and bilberry were 4.2, 3.7, 1.3, and 1.0 microgram tannic acid equivalents (TAE), respectively, Further fractionation of the bilberry ethyl acetate extract revealed that the majority of inducer potency was contained in a hexane/chloroform subfraction (CDqr = 0.07 microgram TAE). In contrast to their effects on QR, crude extracts of lowbush blueberry, cranberry, and lingonberry were active inhibitors of ODC activity. The concentrations of these crude extracts needed to inhibit ODC activity by 50% (designated IC50) were 8.0, 7.0, and 9.0 micrograms TAE, respectively. The greatest activity in these extracts appeared to be contained in the polymeric proanthocyanidin fractions of the lowbush blueberry, cranberry, and lingonberry fruits (IC50 = 3.0, 6.0, and 5.0 micrograms TAE, respectively). The anthocyanidin and ethyl acetate extracts of the four Vaccinium species were either inactive or relatively weak inhibitors of ODC activity. Thus, components of the hexane/chloroform fraction of bilberry and of the proanthocyanidin fraction of lowbush blueberry, cranberry, and lingonberry exhibit potential anticarcinogenic activity as evaluated by in vitro screening tests.

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