What is Bilberry?
Bilberry is a herb whose fruit has been used in human herbal medicine for centuries. Bilberry has been used for the treatment of diarrhoea, eye problems relating to impaired blood flow including macular degeneration and cataract formation, and to improve circulation and address peripheral circulation disorders such as bruising and varicose veins.
More recently, however, the flavonoids have been found to strongly inhibit the formation of hemangioma, resulting in a reduction of tumour size by about 50 percent in one human study.
These results suggest Bilberry extract may hold promise in treating blood vessel tumours in dogs, such as hemangiosarcoma (common in German Shepherd Dogs). An anti-tumour effect against other cell types has also been demonstrated, due in part to Bilberry’s content of anthocyanins.
Why recommend administration of Bilberry to my pet?
In pets, bilberry is often prescribed for conditions which may respond to the use of antioxidants. Eye diseases including cataracts and retinal degeneration may respond to Bilberry supplementation but controlled studies are lacking. Bilberry may prove helpful in the treatment of hemangiosarcoma (cancer of blood vessels) in dogs.
How much experience is there with the use of Bilberry in pets?
Bilberry has been recommended for pets based upon experience in people. Its use in pets is very recent.
What species of animals are being treated regularly with Bilberry?
Generally dogs and cats are treated with supplements containing Bilberry and other antioxidants.
How much research has been conducted on this supplement?
Both in vitro laboratory testing and research with human subjects have been conducted but there are no controlled studies in pets at this point.
How successful is Bilberry?
Bilberry is unlikely to be effective for progressive retinal atrophy (PRA or deterioration of the blood vessel and nerve-rich back of the eye) in dogs, since the problem does not arise from poor blood flow. Bilberry may be of far more benefit for dogs in the treatment of hemangiosarcoma (blood vessel cancer) but this use is still speculative. Bilberry can be expected to benefit any condition that would benefit from antioxidant therapy, given Bilberry’s content of potent flavonoids.
How safe is Bilberry?
Bilberry is very safe and considered non-toxic. Essentially, it can be considered a food.
Where do I obtain Bilberry and do I need a prescription?
A prescription is not required for Bilberry. However, if you are interested in the use of Bilberry in your animal, please ask one of the vets.
© Copyright 2015 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.