Letters: Bilberry still bombs out—and here’s why

Bilberry still bombs out—and here’s why

“As a longtime follower of yours, I was taken aback by your disapproval of bilberry for vision in the May issue of Real Health. If I’m not mistaken, I seem to remember reading something where you said the exact opposite. What caused you to change your mind?”
-W.R., New York, NY

This happens in science writing. New studies may prove, or disprove, something one reported a month ago. And it can happen right after a laudatory study is reported, in a respected journal, just the month before. (It’s a jungle out there.) However, what borders on the criminal is to suppress new information that discredits the previously held view for egotistic or commercial reasons.

Somewhere along the way, the rumors during World War II that bilberry was good for night blindness got into the holistic nutritional literature. But after contacting the AMA library to find the reference from the Archives of Internal Medicine, which reported the results of the study backing the claims for bilberry, I came away empty-handed. The original study couldn’t be found. So, I have to say it is unsubstantiated that bilberry affects night vision in a positive way.