Veterinarian Reviewed on June 7, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
The Latin, or Botanical, name for the Eyebright plant is Euphrasia officinalis. Other, more common, names are Red Eyebright, Meadow Eyebright, Augentrostkraut, Euphraisia Eyebright, Euphrasia officinale, and Euphrasiae Herba.
Description of Eyebright
The Eyebright plant is actually a rather pretty and fragile plant that can grow between 2 and 8 inches in height. The stems are somewhat square shaped and sinewy. The Eyebright leaves are usually between 1/6” to ½” long and roughly ¼” wide. Some of the leaves of the Eyebright plant are narrow and pointed at the end, whilst others are more rounded at the tip. The leaves grow along with the stem in opposite pairs. The flowers are actually either tiny white flowers with splashes of yellow or they are tiny reddish purple flowers. Eyebright is considered to be an annual plant that flowers from July to September in dry areas.
Medicinal Uses of the Eyebright Plant
Eyebright is a plant in which most of it is used as a herb for various ailments. In addition, the stems, leaves and flowers of Eyebright are all edible. The most common use of Eyebright is as an astringent. In years gone by, Eyebright was believed to be a treatment for eye issues due to the Doctrine of Signatures, which is a sixteenth century theory that states that a plant’s appearance signifies its uses and the ailments that it treats.
However the following are also wonderful, modern, uses of Eyebright:
• As its names suggests, Eyebright is wonderful for treating eyestrain, inflammations in the eyes, and stinging or tearing of the eyes.
• It can be used as a compress for treating conjunctivitis and blepharitis.
• Due to both its astringent properties and its anti-inflammatory properties, Eyebright successfully treats the symptoms of allergies and Colds, such as watering, sore and itchy eyes and runny noses too.
• Eyebright treats Allergies, especially the itchy and watery eyes and runny nose that usually accompanies an allergy attack.
• Hay Fever can also be effectively treated with Eyebright Leaf.
• Eyebright is a great treatment for sinusitis.
• It also treats problematic mucous membranes.
• When taken internally, Eyebright works as a strong anti-catarrhal, and helps to alleviate the symptoms of nasal catarrh, and other similar congestive issues.
• Eyebright also promotes good vision and healthy eyes.
• Eyebright stimulates a person’s liver to cleanse the blood supply to their eyes.
• Used as a mouthwash, Eyebright can treat inflammations of a person’s mouth and throat.
Eyebright can be prepared as a compress, eyewash, and mouthwash. It can also be consumed internally in the form of capsules, tinctures and a tea infusion.
Eyebright is usually mixed with other types of herbs, such as Bilberry, to help improve ocular health; and with Nettle Leaf for treating allergies.
Side Effects of Eyebright
When taken internally in moderate doses, there are no reported side effects of Eyebright. Mild confusion, headaches, nausea and perspiration are all signs of an Eyebright overdose and the patient should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.
However, if the Eyebright is to be used as an eyewash, it is very important to make sure that everything is completely sterile so as not to cause an eye infection. Discuss the use of Eyebright drops and eyewashes with your doctor or herbalist if you have had laser eye treatment, cataract removals, cornea transplants or any other type of eye surgery. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also discuss the use of the herb with their doctor or herbalist first.
In rare situations, some people can be allergic to Eyebright and using it externally may lead to swollen eyelids, sensitivity to light, pressure around the eyes and eye itchiness.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan