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Blueberry


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...

  • Preventing cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Ulcers.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Fever.
  • Sore throat.
  • Varicose veins.
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Bad circulation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Labor pains.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of blueberry for these uses.

How does it work?

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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.

Are there safety concerns?

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Blueberry fruit is LIKELY SAFE for most people. But not enough is known about the safety of taking blueberry leaf by mouth. It’s 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. 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.

Are there interactions with medications?

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Minor

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.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

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There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there interactions with foods?

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There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

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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.

Other names

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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.

Methodology

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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).

References

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To see all references for the Blueberry page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/1013.html.

  1. Lyons MM, Yu C, Toma RB, et al. Resveratrol in raw and baked blueberries and bilberries. J Agric Food Chem 2003;51:5867-70.
  2. Wang SY, Lin HS. Antioxidant activity in fruits and leaves of blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry varies with cultivar and developmental stage. J Agric Food Chem 2000;48:140-6.
  3. Wang SY, Jiao H. Scavenging capacity of berry crops on superoxide radicals, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radicals, and singlet oxygen. J Agric Food Chem 2000;48:5677-84.
  4. Wu X, Cao G, Prior RL. Absorption and metabolism of anthocyanins in elderly women after consumption of elderberry or blueberry. J Nutr 2002;132:1865-71.
  5. Joseph JA, Denisova N, Fisher D, et al. Membrane and receptor modifications of oxidative stress vulnerability in aging. Nutritional considerations. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1998;854:268-76.
  6. Hiraishi K, Narabayashi I, Fujita O, et al. Blueberry juice: preliminary evaluation as an oral contrast agent in gastrointestinal MR imaging. Radiology 1995;194:119-23.
  7. Ofek I, Goldhar J, Zafriri D, et al. Anti-Escherichia coli adhesin activity of cranberry and blueberry juices. N Engl J Med 1991;324:1599.
  8. Howell AB, Vorsa N, Foo LY, et al. Inhibition of the Adherence of P-Fimbriated Escherichia coli to Uroepithelial-Cell Surfaces by Proanthocyanidin Extracts from Cranberries (letter). N Engl J Med 1998;339:1085-6.
  9. Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Denisova NA, et al. Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation. J Neurosci 1999;19:8114-21.
  10. 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.
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  2. Cao G, Shukitt-Hale B, Bickford PC, et al. Hyperoxia-induced changes in antioxidant capacity and the effect of dietary antioxidants. J Appl Physiol 1999;86:1817-22.
  3. 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.
  4. Bomser J, Madhavi DL, Singletary K, Smith MA. In vitro anticancer activity of fruit extracts from Vaccinium species. Planta Med 1996;62:212-6.
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Last reviewed - 07/07/2011




Page last updated: 12 March 2014