Eyebright is one of the few herbs which can be eaten in its entirety (stems, leaves, and flowers). This edible herb also has a plethora of uses for medicinal purposes, from treating various eye ailments (hence its name) to soothing skin irritation. Likely these medicinal benefits are due to the variety of nutrients that eyebright contains, including: vitamins B, C, and E, beta-carotene, alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, and more.
Health Benefits of Eyebright (Euphrasia Officinalis)
Let’s learn about the many ways in which eyebright can be used and the various ailments it can treat.
As previously mentioned, eyebright does get its common name from the many medicinal benefits it provides to the eyes. Eyebright tea turned into a cold compress is effective in treating inflammation of the eye, such as styes, blepharitis, and ophthalmia.
To make Eyebright tea, simply boil 1 teaspoon of the herb (thoroughly washed), and boil it in 1 ½ cups of water for about 10 minutes; strain, then let cool. For this remedy, let the tea cool completely, then dip a washcloth or cotton ball into the tea and apply to the eye 3-4 times per day.
Pink Eye, Cataracts, and Red Eyes
An Eyebright tincture wash can be very effective in treating pink eye (conjunctivitis), weeping eye, cataracts, or just red, dry eyes. Combine 5-8 drops of tincture in 2 cups of cool, filtered water. You can wash the eye(s) with this solution every 4-6 hours to reduce symptoms. It is recommended that you do not use this remedy for long, and seek the advice of a professional herbalist before doing so.
Whether due to a cold or allergies, Eyebright can help treat respiratory and sinus inflammation, as well as mucus creation and discharge. For an easy remedy, just make an Eyebright tea, either using the tea bag or by boiling 1 teaspoon of dried Eyebright leaves in 1 cup of water for 5-7 minutes, then strain and drink. You can drink this tea up to three times per day for a limited amount of time.
Eyebright is also effective in treating acne and other forms of skin irritation. For an effective acne treatment, create a poultice by crushing fresh Eyebright leaves and flowers, then applying to the affected area every night, removing after 20 minutes. You can also use Eyebright tea, much as you would for eye inflammation (above) and apply it with a washcloth or cotton swab to the affected area.
It is believed that consuming Eyebright can improve your memory, thanks to the flavonoids and beta-carotene found in the herb. Drinking one cup of Eyebright tea everyday can help ward off memory loss and protect your cognition.
Caution and Recommendations
Although Eyebright is fairly safe when ingested and used in moderation, you should be very careful when using it topically, especially on or near the eyes. To avoid potential infection, seek professional advice and be sure to use only pure, sterile ingredients from the store. If you have had any eye surgery, avoid the use of this herb for other eye conditions.
Additionally, eyebright has not been extensively studied. In the use of humans, it may lower blood sugar levels. Extreme carefulness should be taken in patients that have diabetes or hypoglycemia, and those who are taking other herbs, drugs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. A qualified healthcare professional may need to monitor serum glucose levels and medication adjustments can be necessary. Eyebright is not recommended for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women.