What is it?
Blueberry is a plant. People use the fruit and leaves to make medicine.
Be careful not to confuse blueberry with bilberry. Outside of the United States, the name “blueberry” may be used for a plant called “bilberry” in the U.S.
Blueberry is used for preventing cataracts and glaucoma and for treating ulcers, urinary tract infections (UTIs), multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), colic, fever, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids. Blueberry is also used for improving circulation, and as a laxative.
Some women use blueberry for labor pains and as a tonic after miscarriage.
The dried fruit and leaves are used for diarrhea.
Tea made from the dried leaves is used for sore throat and swelling (inflammation) of the mouth or the skin lining the throat.
Health providers have used blueberry juice as a contrast agent in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Contrast agents make it possible for radiologists to see and interpret the images.
Some people inhale the fumes of burning dried blueberry flowers for treatment of insanity.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for BLUEBERRY are as follows:
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Diabetes. Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing blueberry leaf extract (Blueberin) three times daily for 4 weeks can lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Also, taking a combination of blueberry and sea buckthorn appears to lower levels of hemoglobin A1c, a measurement of average blood sugar levels, in children with type 1 diabetes.
- Preventing cataracts and glaucoma.
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Multiple sclerosis (MS).
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Sore throat.
- Varicose veins.
- Bad circulation.
- Labor pains.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of blueberry for these uses.
Blueberry, like its relative the cranberry, might help prevent bladder infections by stopping bacteria from attaching to the walls of the bladder. Blueberry fruit is high in fiber which could help normal digestive function. It also contains vitamin C and other antioxidants.
Blueberry fruit is LIKELY SAFE for most people when consumed in food amounts. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking blueberry leaf by mouth. It is best to avoid taking leaves.
Special precautions & warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Blueberry fruit is LIKELY SAFE when used in amounts commonly found in foods. But not enough is known about the safety of the larger amounts used for medicine. Stick to normal food amounts if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Diabetes: Blueberry might lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use blueberry products. The dose of your diabetes medications may need to be adjusted by your healthcare provider.
Surgery: Blueberry might affect blood glucose levels and could interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using blueberry at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Be watchful with this combination.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Blueberry leaves might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking blueberry leaves along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar
Blueberry might lower blood sugar. Using it along with other herbs and supplements that have the same effect might cause blood sugar to drop too low in some people. Some of these products include devil's claw, fenugreek, guar gum, Panax ginseng, and Siberian ginseng.
Drinking milk along with blueberries might lower the potential health benefits of blueberries. Separating the ingestion of blueberries and milk by 1-2 hours might prevent this interaction.
The appropriate dose of blueberry depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for blueberry. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Arándano, Bleuet, Bleuet des Champs, Bleuet des Montagnes, Bleuets, Blueberries, Highbush Blueberry, Hillside Blueberry, Lowbush Blueberry, Myrtille, Rabbiteye Blueberry, Vaccinium altomontanum, Vaccinium amoenum, Vaccinium angustifolium, Vaccinium ashei, Vaccinium brittonii, Vaccinium constablaei, Vaccinium corymbosum, Vaccinium lamarckii, Vaccinium pallidum, Vaccinium pensylvanicum, Vaccinium vacillans, Vaccinium virgatum.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).
To see all references for the Blueberry page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/1013.html.
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- Vuong, T., Martineau, L. C., Ramassamy, C., Matar, C., and Haddad, P. S. Fermented Canadian lowbush blueberry juice stimulates glucose uptake and AMP-activated protein kinase in insulin-sensitive cultured muscle cells and adipocytes. Can J Physiol Pharmacol 2007;85:956-965. View abstract.
- Abidov, M., Ramazanov, A., Jimenez Del, Rio M., and Chkhikvishvili, I. Effect of Blueberin on fasting glucose, C-reactive protein and plasma aminotransferases, in female volunteers with diabetes type 2: double-blind, placebo controlled clinical study. Georgian.Med News 2006;:66-72. View abstract.
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- Cignarella A, Nastasi M, Cavalli E, Puglisi L. Novel lipid-lowering properties of Vaccinium myrtillus L. leaves, a traditional antidiabetic treatment, in several models of rat dyslipidaemia: a comparison with ciprofibrate. Thromb Res 1996;84:311-22. View abstract.
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- Youdim KA, Shukitt-Hale B, MacKinnon S, et al. Polyphenolics enhance red blood cell resistance to oxidative stress: in vitro and in vivo . Biochim Biophys Acta 2000;1519:117-22. View abstract.
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Last reviewed - 11/05/2014
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