What is it?
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.
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
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.
Are there interactions with medications?
- 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?
- 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.
Are there interactions with foods?
- 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.
What dose is used?
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.
- Beck, J. A., Matulaitis, R. M., and Sapers, G. M. Detection of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase in the skin of blueberry and cranberry fruits. Journal of Food Science 1987;52:155.
- Sundaram, K. M. S., Boyonoski, N., Cadogan, B. L., and Wing, R. W. Simultaneous determination of fenitrothion and aminocarb in blueberry foliage and fruits: application to the analysis of residues in field samples. Journal of Environmental Science & Health, Part B -- Pesticides, Food Contaminants, & Agricultural Wastes 1987;B22:565.
- Aziz, R. M., Nines, R., Rodrigo, K., Harris, K., and Stoner, G. D. The effect of freeze-dried blueberries on N-nitrosomethylbenzylamine tumorigenesis in the rat esophagus. Pharmaceutical Biology 2002;40:43-49.
- Levi, A., Panta, G., Parmentier, C., Muthalif, M., Arora, R., Shanker, S., and Rowland, L. Complementary DNA cloning, sequencing and expression of an unusual dehydrin from blueberry floral buds. Physiologia Plantarum 1999;107:98-109.
- Cloutier, N. R., Dave, N. K., and Lim, T. P. Ra-226 concentrations in blueberries Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. near an inactive uranium tailings site in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada. Environmental Pollution Series B: Chemical & Physical 1985;10:301.
- McIntyre, K. L., Harris, C. S., Saleem, A., Beaulieu, L. P., Ta, C. A., Haddad, P. S., and Arnason, J. T. Seasonal phytochemical variation of anti-glycation principles in lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium). Planta Med 2009;75:286-292. View abstract.
- Trost, K., Golc-Wondra, A., Prosek, M., and Milivojevic, L. Anthocyanin degradation of blueberry-aronia nectar in glass compared with carton during storage. J Food Sci 2008;73:S405-S411. View abstract.
- Nemes-Nagy, E., Szocs-Molnar, T., Dunca, I., Balogh-Samarghitan, V., Hobai, S., Morar, R., Pusta, D. L., and Craciun, E. C. Effect of a dietary supplement containing blueberry and sea buckthorn concentrate on antioxidant capacity in type 1 diabetic children. Acta Physiol Hung. 2008;95:383-393. View abstract.
- Joseph, J. A., Neuman, A., Bielinski, D. F., and Fisher, D. R. Blueberry antagonism of C-2 ceramide disruption of Ca2+ responses and recovery in MAChR-transfected COS-7 cell. J Alzheimers.Dis 2008;15:429-441. View abstract.
- Zhu, Y., Bickford, P. C., Sanberg, P., Giunta, B., and Tan, J. Blueberry opposes beta-amyloid peptide-induced microglial activation via inhibition of p44/42 mitogen-activation protein kinase. Rejuvenation.Res 2008;11:891-901. View abstract.
- Shukitt-Hale, B., Lau, F. C., Carey, A. N., Galli, R. L., Spangler, E. L., Ingram, D. K., and Joseph, J. A. Blueberry polyphenols attenuate kainic acid-induced decrements in cognition and alter inflammatory gene expression in rat hippocampus. Nutr Neurosci. 2008;11:172-182. View abstract.
- Wang, S. Y., Chen, C. T., Sciarappa, W., Wang, C. Y., and Camp, M. J. Fruit quality, antioxidant capacity, and flavonoid content of organically and conventionally grown blueberries. J Agric.Food Chem 7-23-2008;56:5788-5794. View abstract.
- Devareddy, L., Hooshmand, S., Collins, J. K., Lucas, E. A., Chai, S. C., and Arjmandi, B. H. Blueberry prevents bone loss in ovariectomized rat model of postmenopausal osteoporosis. J Nutr Biochem 2008;19:694-699. View abstract.
- Kalt, W., Blumberg, J. B., McDonald, J. E., Vinqvist-Tymchuk, M. R., Fillmore, S. A., Graf, B. A., O'Leary, J. M., and Milbury, P. E. Identification of anthocyanins in the liver, eye, and brain of blueberry-fed pigs. J Agric.Food Chem 2-13-2008;56:705-712. View abstract.
- 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.
- Kornman, K., Rogus, J., Roh-Schmidt, H., Krempin, D., Davies, A. J., Grann, K., and Randolph, R. K. Interleukin-1 genotype-selective inhibition of inflammatory mediators by a botanical: a nutrigenetics proof of concept. Nutrition 2007;23(11-12):844-852. View abstract.
- Pan, M. H., Chang, Y. H., Badmaev, V., Nagabhushanam, K., and Ho, C. T. Pterostilbene induces apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in human gastric carcinoma cells. J Agric.Food Chem 9-19-2007;55:7777-7785. View abstract.
- Huang, C., Zhang, D., Li, J., Tong, Q., and Stoner, G. D. Differential inhibition of UV-induced activation of NF kappa B and AP-1 by extracts from black raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Nutr Cancer 2007;58:205-212. View abstract.
- Wilms, L. C., Boots, A. W., de Boer, V. C., Maas, L. M., Pachen, D. M., Gottschalk, R. W., Ketelslegers, H. B., Godschalk, R. W., Haenen, G. R., van Schooten, F. J., and Kleinjans, J. C. Impact of multiple genetic polymorphisms on effects of a 4-week blueberry juice intervention on ex vivo induced lymphocytic DNA damage in human volunteers. Carcinogenesis 2007;28:1800-1806. View abstract.
- Prior, R. L., Gu, L., Wu, X., Jacob, R. A., Sotoudeh, G., Kader, A. A., and Cook, R. A. Plasma antioxidant capacity changes following a meal as a measure of the ability of a food to alter in vivo antioxidant status. J Am Coll Nutr 2007;26:170-181. View abstract.
- Zafra-Stone, S., Yasmin, T., Bagchi, M., Chatterjee, A., Vinson, J. A., and Bagchi, D. Berry anthocyanins as novel antioxidants in human health and disease prevention. Mol.Nutr Food Res 2007;51:675-683. View abstract.
- Neto, C. C. Cranberry and blueberry: evidence for protective effects against cancer and vascular diseases. Mol.Nutr Food Res 2007;51:652-664. View abstract.
- Harris, C. S., Burt, A. J., Saleem, A., Le, P. M., Martineau, L. C., Haddad, P. S., Bennett, S. A., and Arnason, J. T. A single HPLC-PAD-APCI/MS method for the quantitative comparison of phenolic compounds found in leaf, stem, root and fruit extracts of Vaccinium angustifolium. Phytochem.Anal 2007;18:161-169. View abstract.
- Torri, E., Lemos, M., Caliari, V., Kassuya, C. A., Bastos, J. K., and Andrade, S. F. Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties of blueberry extract (Vaccinium corymbosum). J Pharm Pharmacol 2007;59:591-596. View abstract.
- Srivastava, A., Akoh, C. C., Fischer, J., and Krewer, G. Effect of anthocyanin fractions from selected cultivars of Georgia-grown blueberries on apoptosis and phase II enzymes. J Agric.Food Chem 4-18-2007;55:3180-3185. View abstract.
- McGuire, S. O., Sortwell, C. E., Shukitt-Hale, B., Joseph, J. A., Hejna, M. J., and Collier, T. J. Dietary supplementation with blueberry extract improves survival of transplanted dopamine neurons. Nutr Neurosci. 2006;9(5-6):251-258. 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.
- Suh, N., Paul, S., Hao, X., Simi, B., Xiao, H., Rimando, A. M., and Reddy, B. S. Pterostilbene, an active constituent of blueberries, suppresses aberrant crypt foci formation in the azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis model in rats. Clin Cancer Res 1-1-2007;13:350-355. View abstract.
- Tonstad, S., Klemsdal, T. O., Landaas, S., and Hoieggen, A. No effect of increased water intake on blood viscosity and cardiovascular risk factors. Br J Nutr 2006;96:993-996. View abstract.
- Seeram, N. P., Adams, L. S., Zhang, Y., Lee, R., Sand, D., Scheuller, H. S., and Heber, D. Blackberry, black raspberry, blueberry, cranberry, red raspberry, and strawberry extracts inhibit growth and stimulate apoptosis of human cancer cells in vitro. J Agric.Food Chem 12-13-2006;54:9329-9339. View abstract.
- Martineau, L. C., Couture, A., Spoor, D., Benhaddou-Andaloussi, A., Harris, C., Meddah, B., Leduc, C., Burt, A., Vuong, T., Mai, Le P., Prentki, M., Bennett, S. A., Arnason, J. T., and Haddad, P. S. Anti-diabetic properties of the Canadian lowbush blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. Phytomedicine. 2006;13(9-10):612-623. View abstract.
- Dhanaraj, A. L., Alkharouf, N. W., Beard, H. S., Chouikha, I. B., Matthews, B. F., Wei, H., Arora, R., and Rowland, L. J. Major differences observed in transcript profiles of blueberry during cold acclimation under field and cold room conditions. Planta 2007;225:735-751. View abstract.
- Matchett, M. D., MacKinnon, S. L., Sweeney, M. I., Gottschall-Pass, K. T., and Hurta, R. A. Inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase activity in DU145 human prostate cancer cells by flavonoids from lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium): possible roles for protein kinase C and mitogen-activated protein-kinase-mediated events. J Nutr Biochem 2006;17:117-125. View abstract.
- Andres-Lacueva, C., Shukitt-Hale, B., Galli, R. L., Jauregui, O., Lamuela-Raventos, R. M., and Joseph, J. A. Anthocyanins in aged blueberry-fed rats are found centrally and may enhance memory. Nutr Neurosci. 2005;8:111-120. View abstract.
- Rimando, A. M., Nagmani, R., Feller, D. R., and Yokoyama, W. Pterostilbene, a new agonist for the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha-isoform, lowers plasma lipoproteins and cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic hamsters. J Agric.Food Chem 5-4-2005;53:3403-3407. View abstract.
- McDougall, G. J., Shpiro, F., Dobson, P., Smith, P., Blake, A., and Stewart, D. Different polyphenolic components of soft fruits inhibit alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase. J Agric.Food Chem 4-6-2005;53:2760-2766. View abstract.
- Puupponen-Pimia, R., Nohynek, L., Hartmann-Schmidlin, S., Kahkonen, M., Heinonen, M., Maatta-Riihinen, K., and Oksman-Caldentey, K. M. Berry phenolics selectively inhibit the growth of intestinal pathogens. J Appl Microbiol. 2005;98:991-1000. View abstract.
- Parry, J., Su, L., Luther, M., Zhou, K., Yurawecz, M. P., Whittaker, P., and Yu, L. Fatty acid composition and antioxidant properties of cold-pressed marionberry, boysenberry, red raspberry, and blueberry seed oils. J Agric.Food Chem 2-9-2005;53:566-573. View abstract.
- Casadesus, G., Shukitt-Hale, B., Stellwagen, H. M., Zhu, X., Lee, H. G., Smith, M. A., and Joseph, J. A. Modulation of hippocampal plasticity and cognitive behavior by short-term blueberry supplementation in aged rats. Nutr Neurosci. 2004;7(5-6):309-316. View abstract.
- Joseph, J. A., Shukitt-Hale, B., and Casadesus, G. Reversing the deleterious effects of aging on neuronal communication and behavior: beneficial properties of fruit polyphenolic compounds. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81(1 Suppl):313S-316S. View abstract.
- Goyarzu, P., Malin, D. H., Lau, F. C., Taglialatela, G., Moon, W. D., Jennings, R., Moy, E., Moy, D., Lippold, S., Shukitt-Hale, B., and Joseph, J. A. Blueberry supplemented diet: effects on object recognition memory and nuclear factor-kappa B levels in aged rats. Nutr Neurosci. 2004;7:75-83. View abstract.
- Bagchi, D., Sen, C. K., Bagchi, M., and Atalay, M. Anti-angiogenic, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties of a novel anthocyanin-rich berry extract formula. Biochemistry (Mosc.) 2004;69:75-80, 1. View abstract.
- Joseph, J. A., Denisova, N. A., Arendash, G., Gordon, M., Diamond, D., Shukitt-Hale, B., and Morgan, D. Blueberry supplementation enhances signaling and prevents behavioral deficits in an Alzheimer disease model. Nutr Neurosci. 2003;6:153-162. View abstract.
- Sweeney, M. I., Kalt, W., MacKinnon, S. L., Ashby, J., and Gottschall-Pass, K. T. Feeding rats diets enriched in lowbush blueberries for six weeks decreases ischemia-induced brain damage. Nutr Neurosci. 2002;5:427-431. View abstract.
- Ono, M., Masuoka, C., Koto, M., Tateishi, M., Komatsu, H., Kobayashi, H., Igoshi, K., Ito, Y., Okawa, M., and Nohara, T. Antioxidant ortho-benzoyloxyphenyl acetic acid ester, vaccihein A, from the fruit of rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei). Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2002;50:1416-1417. View abstract.
- Kay, C. D. and Holub, B. J. The effect of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) consumption on postprandial serum antioxidant status in human subjects. Br.J.Nutr. 2002;88:389-398. View abstract.
- Karantanas, A. H., Papanikolaou, N., Kalef-Ezra, J., Challa, A., and Gourtsoyiannis, N. Blueberry juice used per os in upper abdominal MR imaging: composition and initial clinical data. Eur.Radiol. 2000;10:909-913. View abstract.
- Rimando, A. M., Kalt, W., Magee, J. B., Dewey, J., and Ballington, J. R. Resveratrol, pterostilbene, and piceatannol in vaccinium berries. J Agric Food Chem 7-28-2004;52:4713-4719. View abstract.
- Blomhoff, R. [Antioxidants and oxidative stress]. Tidsskr.Nor Laegeforen. 6-17-2004;124:1643-1645. View abstract.
- Hilliard JJ, Krause HM, Bernstein JI, et al. A comparison of active site binding of 4-quinolones and novel flavone gyrase inhibitors to DNA gyrase. Adv Exp Med Biol 1995;390:59-69. View abstract.
- Spencer CM, Cai Y, Martin R, et al. Polyphenol complexation - some thoughts and observations. Phytochemistry 1988;27:2397-2409.
- Serafini M, Testa MF, Villano D, et al. Antioxidant activity of blueberry fruit is impaired by association with milk. Free Radic Bio Med 2009;46:769-74. View abstract.
- Lyons MM, Yu C, Toma RB, et al. Resveratrol in raw and baked blueberries and bilberries. J Agric Food Chem 2003;51:5867-70. View abstract.
- 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.. View abstract.
- 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.. View abstract.
- 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. View abstract.
- 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.. View abstract.
- 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.. View abstract.
- 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. View abstract.
- Pedersen CB, Kyle J, Jenkinson AM, et al. Effects of blueberry and cranberry juice consumption on the plasma antioxidant capacity of healthy female volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr 2000;54:405-8. View abstract.
- 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. View abstract.
- 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. View abstract.
- 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.
- Bickford PC, Gould T, Briederick L, et al. Antioxidant-rich diets improve cerebellar physiology and motor learning in aged rats. Brain Res 2000;866:211-7. View abstract.
- 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. View abstract.
- 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.
- Bomser J, Madhavi DL, Singletary K, Smith MA. In vitro anticancer activity of fruit extracts from Vaccinium species. Planta Med 1996;62:212-6.. View abstract.