Potential Side Effects
of Taking Blueberry or Bilberry
Ask A Healer Side Effects Series
Blueberry / Bilberry Side Effects and Cautions
This is part of a series of short articles by N J Howell on side effects of natural remedies. On this page we talk about the nutrition-packed antioxidant fruits blueberry and bilberry. There's been some really good news about the antiaging benefits of blueberries and for the otherwise healthy person, they are a wonderful nutritional addition to the diet. The side effects are few but they are important.
What's the difference between a blueberry and a bilberry?
Blueberries and Bilberries are in the same family and are closely related. The main difference is size, with bilberries being smaller than blueberries and a darker color. However, when it comes to side effects, I did some difference in what I found on that as well, between the two types of berries from the Vaccinium family of shrubs, due to a much higher anthocyanins level in bilberries.
Anthocyanins have amazing protective properties. According to the NCBI website linked above, the true benefits of anthocyanins, though readily recognized, is hard to quantify. The site reads thus: "Anthocyanin pigments and associated flavonoids have demonstrated ability to protect against a myriad of human diseases, yet they have been notoriously difficult to study with regard to human health. Anthocyanins frequently interact with other phytochemicals to potentiate biological effects, thus contributions from individual components are difficult to decipher." But this isn't a page on anthocyanins, but a page on side effects so here goes ...
Blueberry / Bilberry Side Effects:
Potential side effects to blueberries may apply if you are allergic to salicylate. In other words, if you are allergic to aspirin, you may also experience side effects from ingesting blueberries, such as an upset stomach. Because blueberry leaf extract may lower blood sugar levels, diabetics would need to be careful if already on medication to lower blood sugar. However, it is bilberry that holds the biggest risk for diabetics in that regard. If diabetic, I would only take bilberry if my doctor said ok. Same is true if you are on blood thinners. Both bilberry may interfere with your blood thinning medications.
If you are going in for surgery within two weeks time, do not take more blueberries than would be consumed as food, and avoid bilberry. Even at that, ask your doctor if you should forgo blueberries altogether until after the surgery.
As is true of just about any supplement or drug, if you are pregnant or nursing, ALWAYS check with your obstetrician before adding any kind of concentrated formula.
Additional Herbal Side Effects Information:
Spirulina > Tumeric > Holy Basil / Tulsi
Health Disclaimer: The potential side effects of taking blueberry or bilbery supplements listed on this page is a partial list some of the more common cautions and side effects associated with the food. If you are under a doctor's care for any known medical condition, and specifically if on blood thinners or take medications to control blood sugar levels, talk to your doctor before taking blueberry.