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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.23 While earlier trials suggested that taking bilberry could benefit people with night blindness,24, 25 more recent trials with healthy volunteers have found no effect of bilberry on night vision.26, 27 Preliminary human trials conducted in Europe show that bilberry may prevent cataracts,28 and may even help to treat people with mild retinopathies (such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy).29, 30 Anthocyanosides are potent antioxidants.31 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.32
Bilberry protects cholesterol from oxidizing in test tubes.33 While this action is thought to help prevent atherosclerosis, no human trials have studied whether bilberry may be useful in the regard.
Bilberry herbal extract in capsules or tablets standardized to provide 25% anthocyanosides are typically recommended at 240–600 mg per day.34 Herbalists have traditionally recommended taking 1–2 ml two times per day in tincture form, or 20–60 grams of the fruit daily.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.