BILBERRY (Vaccinium Myrtillus)


Anthocyanosides, the bioflavonoid complex in bilberries, have traditionally been recognized as potent antioxidants . They have been used to support normal formation of connective tissue and strengthen capillaries in the body; Although there is a need for much more research in this area, there is clinical evidence to support the belief that anthocyanosides may also improve capillary and venous blood flow (see Clinical Abstracts below).

The fruit contains about 0.5% anthocyanosides, vitamins B1 and C, pro-vitamin A, 7% tannins, and plant acids. The anthocyanosides appear to have a tonic effect on the blood vessels.

Bilberry’s high anthocyanin content makes it a potentially valuable treatment for capillary fragility and anecdotal evidence exists that Britain ‘s Royal Air Force recognized bilberry’s ability to improve microvascular blood flow and used it to improve night vision in Battle of Britain fighter pilots. (See also Clinical Abstract on ” Vaccinium myrtillus and retinal abnormalities” that follows)

Vaccinium myrtillus and retinal abnormalities
Perossini, M, et al. Ann Ottalmol Clin Ocul 1987; 113:1173
Clin Physiol Biochem 1986

Bilberry compounds known as anthocyanosides can significantly normalize blood vessel permeability and reduce fragility (a major cause of diabetic vascular disease and hypertensive disease), as well as reduce inflammation.  They also improved arteriolar vasomotion, the ability of the blood vessels to rythmically contract .  In a US study published in 1987, 79% of patients with visible retinal abnormalities improved while taking bilberry extract, compared to none who took a placebo.  86% of those with abnormal angiography findings improved WITHIN ONE MONTH .
PMID: 1467349 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Studies on vascular permeability in hypertension: action of anthocyanosides.
Detre Z, Jellinek H, Miskulin M, Robert AM.

The initial phase of renal hypertension induced by ligature of the abdominal aorta was accompanied by a transient increase in vascular permeability. This permeability increase has not the same intensity in all parts of the organism: it is greater in the skin and in the aorta wall than in the brain vessels. Treatment of rats with a flavonoid-type drug (anthocyanosides of Vaccinium myrtillus) for 12 days before the induction of hypertension kept the blood-brain barrier permeability normal and limited the increase in vascular permeability in the skin and the aorta wall . As previously demonstrated, the collagens of the blood vessel walls play an important role in the control of vascular permeability. Interaction of these collagens with the drug may be partly responsible for the protection against the permeability-increasing action of hypertension observed in the treated animals.

PMID: 3698472 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Effects of Vaccinium Myrtillus anthocyanosides on arterial vasomotion and microvascular blood flow.
Colantuoni A, Bertuglia S, Magistretti MJ, Donato L.
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Institute of Clinical Physiology, Pisa, Italy .

The effects of Vaccinium Myrtillus anthocyanosides (Myrtocyan, VMA; CAS 84082-34-8) on arteriolar vasomotion were assessed in cheek pouch microcirculation of anesthetized hamsters and in skeletal muscle microvasculature of unanesthetized hamster skin fold window preparation. Intravenously injected VMA induced vasomotion in cheek pouch arterioles and terminal arterioles with higher frequency in smaller vessels. In the skeletal muscle arteriolar networks VMA increased vasomotion frequency and amplitude in all vessel orders . The results indicate that VMA are effective in promoting and enhancing arteriolar rhythmic diameter changes, that play a role in the redistribution of microvascular blood flow and interstitial fluid formation.
PMID: 1796918 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Studies on Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides. Vasoprotective and antiinflammatory activity.
Lietti A, Cristoni A, Picci M.

A Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides preparation (equivalent to 25% of anthocyanidins) demonstrated significant vasoprotective and antioedema properties in exerimental animals. In rabbits, the skin capillary permeability increase, due to chloroform, was reduced both after i.p. (25–100 mg/kg) and oral administration (200–400 mg/kg) of anthocyanosides. Their activity was more lasting in comparison to rutin or mepyramine and this did not seem to be due to a specific antagonism towards inflammatory process mediators such as histamine or bradykinin. Experiments carried out in rats demonstrated that Vacinium myrtillus anthocyanosides were effective both in skin capillary permeability test as well as on vascular resistance of rats fed a P factor deficient diet. In the former test effective doses were in the range of 25–100 mg/kg (by oral route). In both the animal species investigated, anthocyanosides were two-fold more active when compared to the flavonoid rutin. Vaccinium myrtillus anthocyanosides by oral route inhibited carrageein paw oedema in rats showing a dose-response relationship. An antioedema activity was detected also after i.v. or topical application.

PMID: 9100 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]