Part Used: Fresh flowering herb
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) is a native British and European plant; naturalised locally in parts of the USA. It is a small downy annual herb which grows in meadows, pastures and other grassy areas. Its square leafy stem, up to 15cm long, is often branched near the base, bears leaves opposite near the base and alternate above, about 1cm long and 0.5cm broad, lanceolate, with four or five teeth on each side. The flowers are small, white or red, occasionally yellow, and often tinged with purple streaks with a yellow spot in the throat; axillary, two-lipped, with four yellow stamens. As its name implies, Eyebright has been used for treating conditions of the eye. In the past, it was made into a solution and used as an eye wash. Astringent chemicals known as tannins contained in Eyebright may have decreased eye inflammation, as well as making a protective film over the surface of the eye. Eyebright also contains other chemicals, especially caffeic acid, that may have slight antibacterial properties. Oral forms of Eyebright are still used to relieve mild eye irritation and reduce eye strain; but prescription and non-prescription eye drops are safer to use in the eyes and much more effective.
Eyebright is primarily used to treat eye irritation and inflammation, and is particularly beneficial for sore, itchy eyes which may have a discharge. It can be applied as a compress or eyewash or taken internally as an infusion. Its anti-inflammatory and astringent properties make it relevant in many conditions, particularly those involving the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract. Taken internally, it has a powerful anticatarrhal action and may be used in nasal catarrh, sinusitis and other congestive states. It is particularly valuable where there is profuse watery nasal discharge and is therefore indicated in hayfever and colds as well as measles when accompanied by these symptoms. It may be taken as a mouthwash or gargle, for inflammation of the mouth or throat. Eyebright stimulates the liver to remove toxins from the body. Eyebright is only to be used EXTERNALLY. It has been used to treat eye infections and afflictions, such as pink-eye. The herb strengthens the eye, and helps to repair damage. Please consult your physician or healthcare provider for proper use of Eyebright.