URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/1013.html

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 a variety of conditions ranging from prevention of cancer and heart disease to the treatment of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and depression. But there is limited scientific research 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...

  • Improving thinking. Some research shows that taking blueberry daily for 3 months might help improve thinking and memory in adults over 60 years of age. Early research shows that taking a single dose of blueberry may improve learning in children ages 7-10 years.
  • 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.
  • Loss of independence in elderly people. 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. Eating blueberries doesn't seem to improve strength or walking speed in elderly people.
  • Arthritis in children (juvenile arthritis). Early research shows that drinking blueberry juice daily while using the medication etanercept reduces symptoms of arthritis better than the medication alone. Drinking blueberry juice might also reduce side effects caused by etanercept.
  • Memory. Early research shows that drinking a single blueberry beverage does not significantly improve memory in children.
  • Bad circulation.
  • Cancer.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fever.
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Labor pains.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • Peyronie's disease (build-up of scar tissue in the penis)..
  • Preventing cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Sore throat.
  • Ulcers.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Varicose veins.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of blueberry for these uses.

How does it work?

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 also contains chemicals that might reduce swelling and destroy cancer cells.

Are there safety concerns?

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.

Are there interactions with medications?

Minor
Be watchful with this combination.
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 (Froben)
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?

Milk
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?

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

Arándano, Bleuet, Bleuet des Champs, Bleuet des Montagnes, Bleuets, Blueberries, Highbush Blueberry, Hillside Blueberry, Lowbush Blueberry, Myrtille, Rabbiteye Blueberry, Rubel, Tifblue, 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

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

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Last reviewed - 08/08/2018