Scientific: Euphrasia officinalis [WikiPedia]
Appearance: Eyebright is an annual plant reaching from 5 to 15 cm in height in its common habitat. It has deep-cut leaves and small flowers that vary in colour. The stem of the eyebright plant is thin and stiff, and the leaves grow approximately 1/6 to 1/2 inch long by 1/4 inch across with four or five teeth on each side of the leaf. It is a hemi-parasitic plant that steals its food by attaching to other plants around it. This makes the Eyebright plant difficult to harvest. The ideal times to harvest the plants are in the summer when they are in full bloom. The flower is cut just about the root and an extract of the fluid is prepared. Unfortunately, due to the high demand for eyebright, the plant is quickly becoming an endangered species.
Parts Used: Above-ground
Common Uses: A German book on medicinal herbs was published in 1485 listing eyebright among one of the herbs used to cure eye ailments. Eyebright was especially popular in the age of Queen Elizabeth I, when people drank eyebright ale. Eyebright was also prescribed in tobacco form and was smoked to relieve bronchial colds. Eyebright was again made popular in the 17th century by Nicholas Culpepper who believed it strengthened the brain, so he equated the herb to the Zodiac sign Leo. It is widely used throughout Europe and even in some African countries. An herbal tea made from the herb was considered a useful remedy for sinusitis, rhinitis, an irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose, and other respiratory infections.
- Iridoid glycosides
- Phenolic acids
- Volatile oils.
Eyebright contains astringent compounds called tannins that can reduce inflammation and swelling in the eye and also create a protective coating on the surface of the eye. Eyebright is also quite useful in treating respiratory conditions such as allergies, bronchitis, colds, and sinusitis. The tannins in eyebright can reduce the mucus production, which relieves the symptoms of respiratory conditions and even increases the firmness of the tissues in the respiratory system.
Thorough studies of the herb’s ingredients were not made until 1999 and then it was established that some of the ingredients found in the plant have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and astringent properties. The substances aucubin, loganin and verbenalin have been shown to have positive effect on inflammation in laboratory animals. Aucubin stimulates the production of proteins that are involved in the healing processes, which may explain the use of eyebright as a healing herb.
Alternatives and Adjuncts:
Topic Specific Research:
- Eyebright Herb [Ref]
- Eyebright Health Benefits and Medicinal Uses [Ref]
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.