Εuphrasia Officinalis

In the wild, European eyebright grows in meadows, pastures, and grassy places in Bulgaria, Hungary, and the former Yugoslavia. Eyebright is also grown commercially in Europe. The plant flowers in late summer and autumn. The whole herb is used in herbal medicine. It is a small plant that lives parasitically in the roots of other plants. It grows to a height of about 20 -30cm and bears pale lilac flowers. Its main characteristic is that it bears four stamens. It has a woolly texture with spear like leaves in green-copper colour. [5].

Frequent use of the herb as tea,is believed to enhance memory. The decoction form can also rest the eyes and relieve eye redness. The juice on the eyes stimulates and cleanses the vision. However, the latter use is not recommended.

History and traditional use

Eyebright was and continues to be used by herbalists primarily as a poultice for the topical treatment of eye inflammations, including conjunctivitis/blepharitis(inflammation of the eyelids) and sties. Traditionally, a compress made from a decoction of eyebright is used to give relief from redness, swelling, and visual disturbances due to eye infections[1]. A tea is sometimes given internally along with the topical treatment. It has also been used for the treatment of eye fatigue and other disturbances of vision. In addition, herbalists have recommended eyebright for problems of the respiratory tract, including sinus infections, coughs, and sore throat[2]. None of the traditional uses of eyebright have been studied in clinical research.

It possesses a beautiful, sweet and calming smell and thus comes also as essence oil, with applications in aromatherapy (on ceramic pots).

Active constituents:

While there are many chemicals that may be active in eyebright, none of them has been proven to have any effect on eye inflammation or irritation. Its anti-inflammatory agents help to dry up secretions of the mucous membranes. This is particularly relevant when we consider the most important role of Euphrasia — to reduce the inflammation of the delicate mucous membranes of the eyes (conjunctivitis) when they are afflicted by infections or allergy (hayfever).

Some herbal texts suggest that the astringent actions of eyebright may reduce eye irritation while others suggest that eyebright may also have antibacterial actions topically. To date, there are no clinical studies to support or refute these proposed actions.

Dosage

Traditional herbal texts recommend a compress made with 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of the dried herb combined with 2 cups (500 ml) of water and boiled for ten minutes[3]. The undiluted liquid is used as a compress after cooling. The German Commission E monograph does not support this application, due to possible impurities in non-pharmaceutical preparations.[4] Consult with a physician knowledgeable in the use of herbs before applying eyebright to the eyes.
Internally, two to three cups per day of eyebright tea is sometimes recommended. Dried herb, 1/2–3/4 teaspoon (2–4 grams) three times per day, may also be taken. The tincture is typically taken in 1/2–1 1/4 teaspoons (2–6 ml) three times per day.
The preparation may be internally, but it will be delivered to the eyes via the bloodstream

Side effects - contraindications

Due to limited information on the active constituents in eyebright and the need for sterility in substances used topically in the eyes, the traditional use of eyebright as a topical compress currently cannot be recommended without professional support. Used internally at the amounts listed above, eyebright is generally safe. However, its safety during pregnancy and breast-feeding has not been proven. At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with eyebright.

Note :
Dear reader, as with all herbs and supplements, do not attempt any, if you are on any medication, unless you consult your GP first.

References:

1. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 339–40.
2. Hoffman D. The Herbal Handbook: A User’s Guide to Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1988, 136–7.
3. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 339–40.
4. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 329–30.
5. Modern Complete Therapy with herbs, Ignatios Zaharopoulos