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.
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
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
Alternatives and Adjuncts:
Topic Specific Research:
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.
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