Consumers still flock to bilberry extract, an enduring top-seller among herbal supplements, for its purported benefits to eye health.
In the 18th century, German doctors prescribed the bilberry for intestinal conditions, among other things. In the 20th century (1987), Commission E, the German panel of experts that assesses the safety and effectiveness of herbs, approved the use of bilberry extract for diarrhea and inflammation of the mouth or throat.
Recent research showed that Bilberry extract has promising anti-ulcer activity, both preventive and curative. It also has shown anti-cancer properties in animal experiments. When administered to diabetes patients, Bilberry normalised capillary collagen thickness and blood sugar levels in humans and animals.
The benefit of Bilberry extract rests mostly on its ability to provide substances that are beneficial for eye health. It may benefit those who have macular degeneration or are predisposed to a cataract. Phenolic compounds in Bilberry extract are of benefit as antioxidants.