Other Names Augentrost, Euphrasia, Euphrasy, Red Eyebright
Origin - England, Europe and North and West Asia. Eyebright grows in meadows and grassy places in the United States. It flowers in July.
Description - Euphrasia is a native British and European plant; naturalised locally in parts of the USA. It is a small downy annual herb which grows in meadows, pastures and other grassy areas. Its square leafy stem, up to 15cm long, is often branched near the base, bears leaves opposite near the base and alternate above, about 1cm long and 0.5cm broad, lanceolate, with four or five teeth on each side. The flowers are small, white or red, occasionally yellow, and often tinged with purple streaks with a yellow spot in the throat; axillary, two-lipped, with four yellow stamens.
Pharmacology - Irodoid glycosides including anti-inflammatory aucubin, antiviral caffeic acid, antiallergenic ferulic acid, tannins, resins, phenolic acids, volatile oil, unidentified alkaloid, sterols, amino acids, choline.Medicinal Uses - When it is taken by mouth, eyebright is used to treat respiratory conditions including allergies, bronchitis, colds, and sinusitis. Astringent chemicals known as tannins contained in eyebright may shrink and tighten the top layers of mucous membranes, thereby reducing mucus secretion, relieving irritation, and improving tissue firmness. As a result, eyebright is thought to help control symptoms such as watery eyes or runny nose associated with allergies. Eyebright also contains chemicals, especially caffeic acid, that may have antibacterial properties. Eyebright has been used internally and externally to treat eye infections, afflictions and diseases, such as pink-eye and is often combined with Golden Seal. The herb should be used in an extremely diluted form as an:
Therapeutic Uses - Eyebright is used frequently for relieving eye problems such as eye strain, pink eye and inflamed, irritated and sore eyes. Eyebright is high in iridoid glycosides, flavonoids, and tannins. The plant has astringent properties that probably account for its usefulness as a topical treatment for inflammatory states and its ability to reduce mucous drainage. Eyebright's antibiotic and astringent properties tighten membranes and mucus surrounding the eyes, effectively strengthening and improving circulation. Rich in vitamins A and C, Eyebright also contains tannins that are beneficial for reducing inflammation. Astringent properties found in Eyebright make it ideal for relieving excess mucus and infectious conditions generally associated with sinusitis allergies, colds and upper respiratory problems. Eyebright has recently been used for cleansing and purifying the blood, therefore stimulating healthy liver functions. The common name Eyebright also includes the species Euphrasia rostkoviana and Euphrasia americana, which are used interchangeably with Euphrasia officinalis.
Dosages - Traditional herbal texts recommend:
Side effects - Eyebright tincture should never be used as eye drops, alcohol would be too irritating for the eyes. Reports of confusion, nausea, and sweating have been attributed to taking or using eyebright. Used internally at the amounts listed above, eyebright is generally safe. Oral use is not indicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Contact a physician if the condition does not improve within a few days.
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