- Family Scrophulariaceae
- Euphrasia officinalis
- Euphrasia, Augentrost
- None listed.
Commonly found throughout the central and eastern parts of Europe, there are over 200 species of Eyebrights, which are generally a creeping, semiparasitic annual crowing to twenty inches. It has tiny oval leaves and small, scallop-edged, white flowers with yellow spots and a black center resembling an eye. It thrives in meadows and open grasslands. The flowerheads are collected during the flowering season in the summer, with July being the prime month.
The use of this herb for eye problems likely stemmed, in part, from the Doctrine of Signatures, a 16th century theory that held that a plant’s appearance pointed to the ailments for which it was to be used.
John Gerard was aware of its properties; and Culpeper was so enthusiastic about the plant that he stated “If the herb was as much used as neglected, it would half spoil the spectable-makers’ trade”.
- iridoide glycosides (especially aucubin)
- volatile oil
- Aerial parts
Eyebright is used mainly externally in the treatment of ophthalmic or eye diseases in the forms of bath infusions or washes, lotions, and poultices. A liquid extract of the flowers or an infusion can be used as eyedrops. The herb tightens the mucous membranes of the eye and appears to relieve the inflammation of conjunctivitis, blepharitis, styes, eye fatigue symptoms, functional eye disorders of muscular and nervous origin, and for any eye complaints associated with inflammations of the blood vessels, eyelids, or conjunctiva and as a preventative against mucus and catarrh of the eyes.
Its ability to counter mucus makes it an effective treatment for infectious and allergic conditions affecting the eyes, middle ear, sinuses, and nasal passages. Infusions and decoctions can also be taken internally for coughs and hoarseness. Although the herb dries liquid mucus, it should be used guardedly for dry, stuffy conditions which tend to be made worse by the plant’s astringency.