Sometimes described as a graceful, English pasture plant — Eyebright grows in grassy areas in parts of Eastern Europe and will reach up to 8 inches tall, depending on the richness of the soil where it is planted. Its dark, green leaves generally have serrated edges and its flowers are usually lilac or white.

Eyebright or “Euphrasia Officinalis” has herbal medicine applications for eye problems and a few other illnesses. Some references are made to ‘Eyebright Ale’ being a tonic of choice to people in the 14th century – particularly those who suffered from conjunctivitis (pink eye), eye fatigue, cataracts or other vision ailments. Believed to be a blood strengthener, it has also been used to treat colds, sinus infections, allergies, sore throats, nasal congestion, and hoarse voices. Because this plant doesn’t seem to be mentioned often prior to 1305, many researchers speculate this is near the time Eyebright began being used for therapeutic purposes.

Many of the varieties of the Eyebright plant species are categorized often as hemiparasitic – meaning it steals its food by attaching to other plants around it. This characteristic can make Eyebright a difficult plant to harvest in the summer when the flowers are in full bloom.

Fluids from this plant are often used to make various lotions and tinctures. Some ancient users described these flowers as resembling a bloodshot human eye and whispered that those who drank Eyebright tea might expect heightened mental clarity or even clairvoyant or psychic powers.

Eyebright can be taken orally (capsules, tinctures, tea) or applied topically (lotions, eyewash, compress). It is often combined with other nutrients and herbs that may also have a positive effect on ocular health and recommended to those with glaucoma and macular degeneration. Rutin, bilberry, and hesperidin are among the most common supplement pairings. Eyebright fluid mixes are also sometimes used as astringent for skin injuries. When mixed into a poultice, blended Eyebright and other ingredients can be applied to a wound to enhance healing. Various recipes can be made and used to aid in helping skin to recover from inflammation, to treat acne, or to simply tighten skin for aesthetic or beauty-enhancement purposes.

As with all herbal supplements and herbal treatments, it is strongly recommended one consult a doctor or medical professional before using Eyebright as a treatment for any condition. In particular, herbalists often recommend that patients DO NOT make Eyebright compresses and eye drops at home – insisting on using ones created in sterile conditions be acquired. Patients who wear contacts or have other eye treatments (corneal transplants, cataract removal, laser eye procedures) may also be advised against using Eyebright by a physician.

 

 

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