© 2018 Steven Foster

A bilberry monograph for the home

Latin Name: Vaccinium myrtillus

Common Names: bilberry, European blueberry, whortleberry, huckleberry

This bilberry monograph provides basic information about bilberry—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.


Bilberry Basics

  • The bilberry bush is a relative of the blueberry and is native to many areas, including the Rocky Mountains and regions of Europe and Asia.
  • Its berries and leaves have been used for medicinal purposes since the Middle Ages for a variety of conditions, including diarrhea, scurvy, infections, burns, and diabetes. During World War II, British pilots ate bilberry jam, thinking it would improve their night vision.
  • Today, bilberry is used as a dietary supplement for cardiovascular conditions, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, eye problems, diabetes, and other conditions.
  • Bilberry extract is sold in tablets, capsules, and drops, and the berries are sold dried and as a powder. The leaves are made into teas.

Bilberry in health Research

  • We have very few high-quality clinical trials (studies in people) of bilberry supplements.

Bilberry Research Summary

  • There’s not enough scientific evidence to support the use of bilberry for any health conditions.
  • Researchers are interested in bilberry in large part because its berries have a high concentration of antioxidants called anthocyanins, which some studies suggest may have health benefits.

Bilberry Safety

  • Bilberry fruit is considered safe when consumed in amounts typically found in foods, or as an extract in recommended doses for brief periods of time.
  • Bilberry leaves may be unsafe when taken orally (by mouth) in high doses or for long periods of time.

Bilberry References

  • Barrett M. Bilberry. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Informa Healthcare; 2010:37-42.
  • Bilberry. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at on March 24, 2015.

PubMed Articles About

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)[Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; [1988] – [cited 2018 Apr 5]. Available from:

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