Information on Bilberry and other Bioflavinoids

by Linda Kaspari
July 2000
Billberry, Huckleberries, cranberry, grape seed, elderberry and pine bark extract are Anthocyanidin Bioflavonoids. These bioflavonoids are particulary effective in strengthening capillaries. Patients should include vitamin C and bioflavonoids as part of a lifetime regimen to help prevent progressive loss of sight. Essential for proper absorption and use of vitamin C, bioflavonoids assist in maintaining the intercellular glue (collagen) that strengthens connective tissue throughout the body. They have antioxidant powers and are essential for strong blood vessels.
Four primary factors cause capillaries to become weak:

  1. Abnormally high estrogen levels in females (Inv Oph 1994; 35; Arvo Abstracts).
  2. Prolonged and elevated adrenal (stress) hormone levels.
  3. Elevated blood sugar levels (Inv Oph 1980; 19: 168; J Ocular Pharm 1995;11: 469-87)
  4. Lack of vitamin C and bioflavonoids (Brit Med J 1975; 3: 205-08; Ophthalmologica 1966; 152: 109-17; J Allergy 1950; 21: 133-47).

Control of these factors may prevent edema (swelling), hemorrhage and development of new undesired blood vessels (neovascularization).
Other studies of interest concerning bioflavonoids are:

  1. Billberry jam was used in World War II to improve night vision of fighter pilots under stress (Plant Flavonoids in Biology & Medicine II, Alan R. Liss, 1988, pp. 107-121).
  2. Modern studies confirm that anthocyanidins strengthen weak capillaries (Diab Med 1996; 13: 882-88).
  3. Up to 70% of RP cases involve central retinal (macular) edema (Primary Care of the Posterior Segment, 2nd ed, Appleton & Lange, 1994, p. 436). Behind the photoreceptor cells is a bed of capillaries or hair-thin vessels that connect arterioles (small arteries that carry oxygenated blood) with venules (small veins that carry de-oxygenated blood). This is called the chorio-capillaries. The capillaries are semipermeable for the exchange of gases, fluids, and nutrients. Normally capillaries have tight or small openings. In disease, the capillaries are weak. Just a 5-10% increase in the diameter of retinal arteries and veins increases the risk of retinal swelling (edema) and hemorrhagic leakage of red cells. (Acta Oph 1995; 73: 119-24).

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