Bilberry extract benefits and applications

Real bilberries are rare and unique 

Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) are small, edible berries that grow on small wiry shrubs on hillsides throughout Central and Northern Europe.4-8 Unlike most berries, Vaccinium myrtillus L. is extremely difficult to grow. It does not produce clusters of berries, but single or, more rarely, pairs of berries, in limited numbers considering the biomass of the plant. Bilberries cannot be cultivated, and are picked from wild plants.

Among the 450 species9 belonging to the genus Vaccinium, the traditional medicinal use of Vaccinium myrtillus L. (bilberry) has been documented since the Middle Ages, when its fruits were recommended for a variety of conditions. Since the 16th century, bilberry has been systematically mentioned in all major herbal treatises.

A number of compounds belonging to different chemical classes have been isolated from the berries of Vaccinium myrtillus L., particularly the anthocyanins (also called anthocyanosides) which have been extensively documented in scientific literature. Anthocyanins are found naturally in a number of foods, but are most abundant in blue and purple-colored fruits like bilberries.2  Researchers report that Vaccinium myrtillus L. contains higher amounts of anthocyanins than any other berry.3 The anthocyanin profile of bilberry is combinatorial and made up of 5 anthocyanins, while the profile of all other sources is additive and characterized by 1-3 major compounds. 

The original bilberry extract: MirtoSelect® 

MirtoSelect® is an authentic bilberry extract (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) containing ≥36% anthocyanins and is characterized by a very specific and consistent HPLC profile that represents the “fingerprint” of the extract. The work to provide MirtoSelect® has been ongoing since the early seventies.

MirtoSelect® Bilberry Extract has a specific and indisputable analytical method for the identification of bilberry anthocyanins and anthocyanidins. It has become a standard reference for most Pharmacopoeias in western countries.13-17                    

MirtoSelect® is today not only the most extensively studied bilberry extract available, but also the market leader and benchmark. With over 60 positive studies, including at least 30 controlled or double-blind studies published in peer-reviewed titles, MirtoSelect® should be your bilberry extract of choice.10

Main Applications

MirtoSelect® shows consistent clinical benefits and has been mainly researched in the realms of vascular health and ophthalmology (retinal health). This consistency is the result of a reproducible batch to batch production from over 40 years of experience.

New positive data has recently emerged regarding the supportive role of MirtoSelect® in dry eye conditions. The new randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical study offers further proof of the efficacy and safety profile of MirtoSelect®. It was able to help preserve adequate tear levels and maintain a healthy ocular surface to possibly help attenuate discomfort and visual disturbance.26

Through the beneficial effect on vascular circulation, MirtoSelect® can improve oxygen and blood delivery to the eye, restoring the functionality of tear secretion. Furthermore, the free radical scavenging properties counteract oxidative stress, one of the major risk factors of dry eye discomfort.

Today MirtoSelect® is the only bilberry extract (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) supported by clinical data on dry eye condition. MirtoSelect® is the only bilberry extract, void of any known side effect, whose properties have been clinically and pharmacologically demonstrated. The recommended dose is 160-320 mg/day.


MirtoSelect® has been mainly researched in the realms of vascular health and ophthalmology (retinal health), but pilot clinical studies suggest anthocyanins may have applications in the areas of memory improvement, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health, metabolic syndrome and obesity. In particular, preliminary trials have shown potential metabolic syndrome and glucose metabolism management activity with the use of MirtoSelect®, which may represent an opportunity for future applications following further research into its use in eye health.18-22


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