Euphrasia, (Euphrasia spp.), commonly known as Eyebright, is a genus of flowering plants in the Orobanchaceae family. These small, herbaceous plants are native to Europe, Asia and North America and are characterized by their delicate, often white or pink flowers with distinctive purple markings.

Euphrasia species have a long history of use in traditional herbal medicine, particularly for eye-related ailments, which is where the common name “eyebright” originates.

History of Euphrasia Use

Eyebright is a herb traditionally used for various eye conditions including; conjunctivitis, eye strain and eye inflammation. Herbal use of Eyebright dates to the 14th century when it was described as a cure for all eye maladies. The first mention of this herb is in 1305 in Gordon’s Liticium Medicina. By the 16th century, Eyebright was hailed by well-regarded herbalists such as Fuchsius and Tragus.

Herbal use of Eyebright (Euphrasia))) dates to the 14th century when it was described as a cure for all eye maladies. By the 16th century, Eyebright was hailed by well-regarded herbalists such as Fuchsius and Tragus. 

The Euphrasia Plant

Eyebright, actually refers to around 450 species of herbaceous flowering plants in the family Orobanchaceae. It is found and used in Europe, North America, Western Asia and Northern Asia.

The name Euphrasia originates in Greece from the word for gladness. Other names for the plant are; “Euphrasia” in English, “Augentröst” in German, and “Casse-lunette” in French. Alternative names, mainly in herbalism, are; Augentrostkraut, Euphrasiae herba, Herba Euphrasiae and Herbe d’Euphraise.

Parts of Euphrasia Used Medicinally

When the plant is in full flower stage, around July or August, a fluid extract is prepared. The plant is cut right about the root for preparation. It has several chemical compounds such as; the tannin Euphrasia-Tannin acid, glucose, and mannite, which is a crystalline water-soluble sweet-tasting alcohol.

Eyebright Effect on the Eyes

This plant has a long history of use for eye problems, hence the name Eyebright. When used appropriately, Eyebright will reduce inflammation in the eye caused by blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelash follicles) and conjunctivitis (inflammation or infection of the membrane lining the eyelids). It can be used as an eyewash, as eye drops, or plant infusions taken internally for ophthalmic use.

Eyebright for the Respiratory Tract

Eyebright is used as an anti-inflammatory for; hay fever, sinusitis, upper respiratory tract infections and catarrh (inflammation of the mucous membranes). As an astringent, it is used for dry congestion. There is a herbal smoking mix of the dried herb that is used for bronchial colds. It also can be used for seasonal allergies and other nasal irritations.

Eyebright for Skin Wounds

As an astringent, the herb is used to aid in the healing of skin wounds. It is made into a poultice and used on the wound topically. It can also be used to treat acne and aid in skin inflammation. A cold Eyebright poultice can help tighten skin.

Eyebright Preparations

Eyebright is available in the forms of; teabags, loose dried leaves, capsules, liquid, tablets, powder, tincture and oil. It is also in several over-the-counter and online herbal supplement combinations. It is an ingredient in; some cough and cold remedies, skin lotions, acne medications and other mixtures.

Eyebright Dosages

Traditionally, an adult dosage of Eyebright is two to four grams of the herb, dried, up to three times a day. This can be in tea form with 5 ounces of boiling water. For eye drops, one to five times a day of a single drop appears the norm. These eye drops, when used for pinkeye, can be taken for up to 3 weeks at a time.

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaimer.

Euphrasia/Eyebright Herb Notes / Side Effects

While it is generally considered safe when used appropriately, there are potential side effects and considerations to be aware of:

Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to Eyebright, particularly if they are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family, such as ragweed, daisies, or chrysanthemums. Allergic reactions may include skin rash, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing, intolerance of light, redness, and vision changes. Other side effects of Eyebright can include; sneezing, headache, toothache, confusion, insomnia, tearing, coughing, nasal congestion, sweating, nausea, hoarseness, constipation, and excessive urination.

Eye Irritation: In some cases, using Eyebright preparations directly in the eyes may cause irritation, burning, or discomfort. It’s essential to use sterile, properly prepared Eyebright solutions and follow recommended dosages and application methods to minimize the risk of eye irritation.

Interactions with Medications: Eyebright supplements or eye drops may interact with certain medications or exacerbate existing eye conditions. If you are taking prescription medications or have a pre-existing eye condition, consult with a healthcare professional before using Eyebright products.

Not Suitable for Certain Conditions: Individuals with certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma or cataracts, may need to avoid or use Eyebright with caution, as it may not be suitable for their specific condition. It’s essential to consult with an eye care professional before using Eyebright if you have any underlying eye conditions.

Digestive Upset: Ingesting large amounts of Eyebright preparations, such as teas or capsules, may cause digestive upset, including nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea. To minimize the risk of digestive side effects, use Eyebright in moderation and follow recommended dosages.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: There is limited information available on the safety of Eyebright during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional before using Eyebright products.

Precautions for Diabetics: Eyebright may lower the level of blood sugar in some people. Those with diabetes or hypoglycemia may need to exercise caution and speak with a health care professional if they are wanting to take herbal supplements of Eyebright.

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