Bilberry extracts are not created equal: the role of non anthocyanin fraction. Discovering the "dark side of the force" in a preliminary study

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2016 Jun;20(11):2418-24.


Objective: Several experimental studies and clinical trials support the potential of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L) extracts in promoting eye health and circulation. Many active ingredients have been isolated from the berries and leaves of the bilberry plant. However, anthocyanins represent the most widely studied bioactive compounds in this plant.

Patients and methods: The aim of this registry, supplement study was to evaluate the effects of Mirtoselect® (standardized in 36% anthocyanins and obtained by an industrial extraction process that preserves the full range of the non-anthocyanin components, mainly natural sugars and polyphenols) in different types of retinal vasculopathies. In total, 140 patients with different types of retinopathy spontaneously decided to join one of the following groups: standard management (SM) only (n=38); SM associated with Mirtoselect® supplementation (n=47); SM associated with a generic bilberry extract supplementation (n=55). Retinal circulatory parameters and flow measurements of the retinal vessels were evaluated at the inclusion and after 6-months supplementation.

Results: Overall, significant improvements in several retinal circulatory parameters such as retinal blood flow velocity, with respect to the values at inclusion, were observed in both supplementation groups, especially in Mirtoselect® supplementation group. However, at 6 months, inter-group comparison revealed a statistical advantage in all tested parameters for Mirtoselect® supplementation groups. No side effects or tolerability concerns were reported.

Conclusions: Our registry study suggests that Mirtoselect® supplementation could represent an effective and safe integrated approach for the treatment of different retinopathies.

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins* / adverse effects
  • Anthocyanins* / chemistry
  • Anthocyanins* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts* / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts* / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts* / therapeutic use
  • Retinal Diseases / therapy*
  • Vaccinium myrtillus*


  • Anthocyanins
  • Plant Extracts
  • Vaccinium myrtillus extract