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 aging, memory and thinking skills (cognitive function), and many other conditions, but there is limited scientific evidence to support any of these uses.
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:
Possibly ineffective for...
- High blood pressure. Most research shows that taking blueberry does not reduce blood pressure.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age. Some research shows that taking blueberry daily for 3-6 months might help improve some thinking and memory tests in adults over 60 years of age. However, most tests for thinking and memory do not change. If there is a benefit, it is probably small.
- Aging. Some research shows that eating frozen blueberries can improve foot placement and balance in elderly people. However, other research shows that eating blueberries does not help with these things. Also, eating blueberries doesn't seem to improve strength or walking speed in elderly people.
- Athletic performance. Early research shows that taking dried blueberries doesn't help people run faster or make running feel easier. But it might help maintain strength 30 minutes after the run.
- Memory and thinking skills (cognitive function). Early research shows that taking a single dose of blueberry may improve some types of learning in children ages 7-10 years. But it doesn't help with most types of learning and it doesn't help children read better.
- Depression. Some people that have a clot in one of the vessels in the brain may experience depression. In those people with depression, they may be more likely to have infections in the GI tract. Some research suggests that taking blueberry extract daily for 90 days can reduce symptoms of depression and also reduce infections in this group of people.
- High levels of fats called triglycerides in the blood (hypertriglyceridemia). Early research shows that taking a single dose of blueberry leaf extract might help to reduce levels of fats in the blood after a meal in people with this condition.
- Arthritis in children (juvenile idiopathic arthritis). Early research shows that drinking blueberry juice daily while using the medication etanercept reduces symptoms of arthritis in children better than the medication alone. Drinking blueberry juice might also reduce side effects caused by etanercept.
- A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome). Taking dried blueberries does not help improve most symptoms of metabolic syndrome. But it might help to improve blood flow in some people.
- Bad circulation.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Labor pains.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS).
- Peyronie disease (build-up of scar tissue in the penis).
- Preventing cataracts and glaucoma.
- Sore throat.
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Varicose veins.
- Other conditions.
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if blueberry is safe or what the side effects might be.
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.
Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency: G6PD is a genetic disorder. People with this disorder have problems breaking down some chemicals in food and drugs. One or more of these chemicals are found in blueberries. If you have G6PD, only eat blueberries if you get approval from 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?
- Buspirone (BuSpar)
- The body breaks down buspirone (BuSpar) to get rid of it. Blueberry might decrease how fast the body gets rid of buspirone (BuSpar). However, this does not seem to be a concern in humans.
- Flurbiprofen (Ansaid, others)
- The body breaks down flurbiprofen (Froben) to get rid of it. Blueberry might decrease how fast the body gets rid of flurbiprofen (Froben). However, this does not seem to be a concern in humans.
- Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
- Blueberry leaves and fruit might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking blueberry leaves or fruit 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.
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