Eyebright

Euphrasia officinalis

Description

Eyebright’s potential benefits seem to have been realised only in the 14th century, when the herb was recommended to cure coughs and ‘all evils of the eye’, by physicians such as Matthaeus Sylvaticus of Mantua, Italy. Modern homeopathic practitioners, however, appreciate eyebright rather more for its anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, which can be helpful when treating allergies, inflamed sinuses and symptoms of colds and flu. The early healers weren’t wrong though – eyebright can also soothe allergy-reddened and swollen eyes.

Parts used

The parts of the plant that grow above the ground.

Constituents

Eyebright is known to contain the tannin euphrasia-tannin acid, along with the sugar alcohol mannite and glucose, but its volatile oils have not yet been chemically analysed. It is thought that the chemicals in eyebright may act as astringents and kill bacteria. The tannins are thought to decrease inflammation.

Medicinal uses

Eyebright is prescribed to:

  • Soothe the symptoms of allergies, colds or flu, including runny mucus and swollen, itchy eyes.
  • Reduce inflammation and congestion of the mucous lining in the nasal passages.
  • Reduce inflammation in the sinuses (sinusitis).
  • May ease a sore throat.

CAUTION

Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Reported side-effects of taking eyebright orally include difficulty in breathing, closing of the throat, swelling of the lips, tongue or face, or hives. As not enough is known about eyebright, breastfeeding mothers and children should avoid using it. Always consult your medical practitioner before embarking on a course of natural remedies.

Flora Force Products containing Euphrasia officinalis

Domestic & culinary uses

Eyebright is not generally used in modern cuisine.

Cultivation

Eyebright is a weed, albeit an attractive one, that grows in fields and meadows in most temperate climate regions of the world. It is a parasitic plant that must attach its roots to the roots of other plants in order to survive. Nearly all of the eyebright sold on the market is produced in Europe.

Photo credits

  1. By Tigerente (Own work)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.