Bilberry for diabetes

(Last Updated On: October 12, 2017)

Bilberry for diabetes can protect your pancreas and increase insulin production


Common Names: bilberry, European blueberry, whortleberry, huckleberry

Latin Name: Vaccinium myrtillus


Bilberry looks similar to blueberries but just a little darker; these two berries are related. Its medicinal properties have been known for over a thousand years in Europe’s traditional medicine. It has been used to treat a variety of conditions including diabetes, menstrual cramps, eye problems, diarrhea, varicose veins, venous insufficiency, and other circulatory problems. Bilberry is native of Northern Europe and grows in North America, Europe and Northern Asia. Bilberry plants like terrains with some elevation but grows well in a variety of places. The berries can be simply eaten or made into jams and pies. Extracts are made from the berries.

Medicinal properties

Bilberry fruits are rich in tannins, a substance that acts as an astringent. The tannins have anti-inflammatory properties and may help control diarrhea. Bilberry is filled with a chemical known as Anthocyanin, a plant pigment which is a powerful antioxidant. This compound belongs to a class of molecules called flavonoids and are odorless and flavorless. This compound is also present in many other plants such as blueberries, cranberries, black raspberry, and many others.


Bilberry is an important natural remedy to add to your anti-diabetic arsenal. It help control and revert diabetes because it is rich in antioxidants which play an huge role in the prevention of obesity and insulin resistance. Studies have also demonstrated that dietary antioxidants such ones found in bilberry protect pancreatic beta cells from glucose induced oxidative stress. This in turn could benefit diabetics who have insulin deficiency as it protect the pancreatic beta cells.

These antioxidants scavenge free radicals which causes damage, and help prevent and reverse damage to cells. Free radicals have a known association with diabetes. Hyperglycaemia and other metabolic syndrome conditions have been known to accelerate free radical formation and weaken antioxidant action producing oxidative stress, a hallmark of diabetes. Bilberry is also rich in vitamin C which is another powerful antioxidant.

Hyperglycemia or high blood sugar is well known to cause toxic reactions in organ tissue. Diabetic cataract occurs in 10% of diabetics and about 20,000 patients in the U.S. report retinopathy/cataract and sight loss annually. Flavonoids are well known for their role in prevention of diabetic cataracts. Over 40 flavone derivatives have been found as a potent aldose reductase inhibitors; the enzyme that initiate cataract formation in diabetics. Flavonoids can also prevent or delay cataracts in rats lenses perfused in a high glucose solution or in diabetic rabbits.

Available forms

A tea can be made from the dried berries and it is available for sale on this site. Bilberry extract can be also found online and should contain 25% anthocyanidin to be effective. You may choose to simply eat the berries but they don’t have enough anthocyanidin compared to the supplements. (check the large selection below). Tinctures, soft gel, capsules, seed, dried berries, and other supplements mixed with other beneficial compounds are also available.

How to use it

As with all herbal treatments, caution and experimentation is advised. In other words, try small amounts first and evaluate the results. Herbs can produce side effects and also interact with medication or other herb supplements. When in doubt, stop treatment and consult an expert.

  • Adult General dosage: 80 – 120 mg 2 x per day of standard bilberry extract (with 25% anthocyanidin).
  • Eye conditions and circulation: 80 – 480 mg a day in 2 – 3 divided doses of standardized bilberry extract (with 25% anthocyanidin) in capsule form.


Studies shown that bilberry use is generally safe, well tolerated with virtually no side effects. you should not use bilberry in excessive quantities and for a long period of time, because tannins found in the plant may cause severe weight loss and muscle spasms which could be dangerous. Bilberry, like any herbal remedy can interact with other medications, alter vitamin absorption and interaction; so you should not mix it with many other drugs or supplements if possible.

Possible interactions

Diabetes medications –  Because of the  blood sugar lowering properties of bilberry, you should use caution when combining it with oral diabetic drugs such as glipizide or metformin or any other drug intended to lower blood sugars and specially insulin. This is also true when combining any other herb intended to lower blood glucose found in this site.

Blood thinners or anticoagulants – Anthocyanosides found in bilberry may have anticoagulant properties, so it acts as a blood thinner. If you take blood thinner medication such as coumadin, heparin, warfarin or aspirin, it may increase your risk for bleeding. Ask your doctor if you are taking blood thinning medications before you use bilberry tinctures or supplements. If you do take blood thinners, it is safer to use the dried or fresh berries instead of capsules.

Billbery raw, nutritional values

Vaccinium myrtillus L.

Energy DistributionEnergy Distribution
% of total food energy
   Protein, total5.3 %
   Fat, total8.4 %
   Carbohydrate, total86.4 %
   Alcohol0 %

Refuse: 2%

Content per 100 grams
Protein, total0.7g
Fat, total0.5g
   saturated fatty acids0g
   monounsaturated fatty acids0g
   polyunsaturated fatty acids0g
Carbohydrate, total11.5g
   carbohydrate, available8.7g
   added sugar0g
   dietary fibre2.8g
Vitamin A1.08RE
Vitamin D0μg
Vitamin B1, thiamin0.03mg
Vitamin B2, riboflavin0.03mg
Niacin equivalents0.583NE
Vitamin B60.06mg
Pantothenic Acid0.16mg
Vitamin B120μg
Vitamin C44mg
Sodium, Na3mg
Potassium, K103mg
Calcium, Ca15mg
Magnesium, Mg7mg
Phosphorus, P9mg
Iron, Fe0.8mg
Copper, Cu0.11mg
Zinc, Zn0.1mg
Iodine, I1.2μg
Manganese, Mn3.3mg
Chromium, Cr1μg
Selenium, Se0μg
All sugars, total14.3g
Amino acids









  2. Anthocyanins and anthocyanin-rich extracts: role in diabetes and eye function
  3. Expression of Genes Involved in Anthocyanin Biosynthesis in Relation to Anthocyanin, Proanthocyanidin, and Flavonol Levels during Bilberry Fruit Development1
  4. Anti-carcinogenic effects of the phenolic-rich extract from abnormal Savda Munziq in association with its cytotoxicity, apoptosis-inducing properties and telomerase activity in human cervical cancer cells (SiHa)
  5. Protective Effects of Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) Extract on Restraint Stress-Induced Liver Damage in Mice
  6. Direct vasoactive and vasoprotective properties of anthocyanin-rich extracts
  7. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) Anthocyanins Modulate Heme Oxygenase-1 and Glutathione S-Transferase-pi Expression in ARPE-19 Cells
  8. A bilberry drink with fermented oatmeal decreases postprandial insulin demand in young healthy adults
  9. Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C, et al, eds. PDR for Herbal Medicines. 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company Inc; 2000.
  10. DIFFERENT BRANDS OF BILBERRY EXTRACT A comparison of selected components
  11. Natural Therapies for Ocular Disorders Part Two: Cataracts and Glaucoma
  12. Bilberries reduce low-grade inflammation in individuals with features of metabolic syndrome
  13. Vision preservation during retinal inflammation by anthocyanin-rich bilberry extract: cellular and molecular mechanism
  14. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Oxidative Stress and Dietary Modifications
  15. The Effect of Bilberry Nutritional Supplementation on Night Visual Acuity and Contrast Sensitivity
  16. Hemorrhage After the Preoperative use of Complementary and Alternative Medicines

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Please leave a comment if you think this site was helpful to you. Let me know if there is any other area of diabetes treatment you would like to see covered in future posts

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In Category: DIABETES

Marcos Taquechel

Marcos is an RN. Thanks for stopping by and reading my posts. I hope you are able to get something useful out of this blog. Take good care of yourself and don’t worry about anything until you have something to worry about.

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