Eyebright, Red Eyebright; Frasia, Luminella, Ambrosia,
Eufragia, Euphrasy, Adhib, Ewfras, Euphraise; Casse-lunette,
Brise-lunettes (French); Augentrost, Augstenzieger,
Wiesenaugetrost, Schabab, Hirnkraut, Weisses Ruhrkraut,
Zwang-kraut (German); Swietlik Lekarski (Polish)
Pharmaceutical Name: Herba
small, delicate annual, 2-8 inches high, eyebright has
square, downy, branching stems.
The leaves vary in shape,
sometimes almost round, sometimes narrow and pointed, and
are borne in opposite pairs.
Tiny red or white flowers
(June-August) have an upper two-lobed lip and a lower
three-lobed lip and are borne in spikes from the axils of
the upper leaves.
delicate, attractive plant, eyebright is difficult to
transplant because of its semiparasitical nature.
Eyebright attaches itself
by underground suckers to the roots of neighboring grass
plants and drains nutrients from them. To be cultivated,
eyebright must be given nurse plants on whose roots it can
Its habitat is disturbed
ground and waste places.
Likes sunny places among
sparse bushes, on the edge of woods, and in heathlands, from
the lowlands up to high mountain regions.
Gather at time of
Dry in shade.
Range: cultivated in
North America; escaped from gardens and is found
wild in the US Northwest and in
introduced into medical literature in the works of the
pioneering naturalist St. Hildegard (1098-1179)
but the herb was available
to early Greek and Arab physicians like Dioscorides and
Eyebright is a
native European annual herb.
Its genus name, Euphrasia,
is derived from the Greek "euphrosyne", the name of one of
the three graces who was distinguished for her joy and
mirth, and it is thought to have been given the plant from
the valuable properties attributed to it as an eye medicine
preserving eyesight and so bringing gladness into the life
of the sufferer.
It was popularized by
medieval medical practitioners who probably assigned its use
as an eye medicine from the doctrine of signatures.
studies have been performed on eyebright to determine its
Yet it remains in high
esteem among Western herbalists for its use as an eyewash.
Recently the internal
consumption of the herb has been popularized by the notion
that eyebright has a stimulant, cleansing effect on the
liver that is somehow indirectly beneficial to the eye.
Some claim that this
cleansing action on the liver releases stores of vitamin A
in the blood, which in turn finds its way to the eye.
It is highly unlikely the
eye could be strengthened in this manner.
Its function as an eyewash
is due to its volatile oil content and tannin.
The healing power
of Eyebright for the eyes is thought to extend to spiritual
and psychic vision.
It's much used today as a
Visonary Herbe, and in psychic balance for its ability to
bring the practitioner the ability to see life as joyous.
The great English poet
John Milton tells of the archangel Michael who commanded
Adam to wash his eyes with eyebright and rue to regain his
sanity after committing the original sin.
Iridoid glycosides, including aucubin; tannins, both
condensed and hydrolysable gallic acid types; Phenolic acids
including caffeic and ferulic; volatile oil, about 0.017%;
an unidentified alkaloid or base, sterols, amino acids and
choline. Moisture content-fresh 84.6%, air dried 7.8%;
Carbohydrates: sugars and starch.
astringent, restoring, decongestive, dissolving,
mildly astringent, cool
Definite: antibacterial action (due to volatile oils);
astringent (due to tannins)
Possible: liver stimulant
Eyebright is similar, but
much weaker in action, to golden seal when it comes to its
use as an eyewash.
It contains astringent and
antibiotic principles that are useful for cleansing the eye.
Systemic effects such as
stimulation of the liver to release vitamin A are unfounded
It tightens the mucous
membranes of the eye and appears to relieve the inflammation
of conjunctivitis and blepharitis.
Its ability to counter
mucus means that it is often used for infectious and
allergic conditions affecting the eyes, middle ear, sinuses,
and nasal passages. It is helpful in acute or chronic
inflammations, stinging and weeping eyes as well as
over-sensitivity to light. Although eyebright counters
liquid mucus, it should be used guardedly for dry and stuffy
congestion, which tends to be made worse by the plant's
Used internally it is a
powerful anti-catarrhal and thus may be used in nasal
catarrh, sinusitis and other congestive states. In catarrhal
conditions it combines well with golden rod, elder flower or
In allergic conditions
where the eye are affected it may be combined with Ephedra.
As an eye lotion it mixes
with Goldenseal and distilled witch hazel.
Eyebright tea may be given
internally at the same time.
The mechanism of action is
not yet known.
Dosage: tea: 2-4
gm thrice daily; Eyewash: used hourly if desired. Time of
Administration: mid-morning to mid-afternoon
Eyewash concentrate using dried powdered herb: 1 part herb
to 4 parts water.
Cover and boil 30 minutes.
Filter and add 1 part
To make eyewash, add 1
ounce of concentrate to 1 cup boiling water.
Cool and use. Refrigerate
For acute head cold, hay fever, with lots of acrid
secretions and red eyes.
The tincture is best taken
antihistaminic, and hepatic astringent (Fresh plant
tincture, 1:2, 30-90 drops, up to four times a day).
Its effect in the
intestinal tract is similar, resolving what is essentially
Here its bitter component,
in promoting digestion and boosting forces via Spleen Qi, is
ideal in chronic deficiency conditions of this type.
has some unusual characteristics with which other herbs have
not been blessed.
There is in the herb, more
principally the flowers, those volatile properties, which
when applied in the eye, soon become activated by the
sunlight and saturate the conjunctiva, cornia, sclerotic,
chorloid, ciliary muscle and process, iris, suspensory
ligament, both posterior and anterior fluid changers, lens,
retina, optic nerve, and other miscellaneous tissue
membranes connected thereto.
The herb will strengthen
all of these and provide an elasticity or greater resiliency
to the important nerve and optic devices responsible for out
Or where there may be a
certain laxity in any of these parts, it will help to
tighten them up to normal again.
In other words, its
chemical constituents regulate the tensile strength of all
fiberous mass in the eyes, by either tightening up; or
relaxing them as the case may be.
The herb is a chemical
conditioner in this respect.
And light is the key to
its successful performance here.
Night-time or the dark is
detrimental to its operations.
Some ophthalmologists have
observed in their cataract patients who have diligently used
this herb as an eyewash, that the progress of the cataracts,
in certain instances, was retarded to quite an extent.
Eyebright has an
antiseptic quality about it that is useful for fighting
infection in the eyes.
A few have discovered that
using the single herb together with powdered yucca root, as
an eyewash, has helped to remove cataracts in their first
year or earlier stages of development.
It has been said that too
much wine or strong drink will cause a man to see double or
experience blurry vision as a result of his intoxication.
But one old herbalist from
16th-century England claimed: "Much commendeth
the wine made with Eyebright put into it when it is new made
and before it worke to helpe the dimnesse of sight, and
saith that the use thereof restored old men's sight to read
small letters without spectacles that could hardly read
great ones with their spectacles before."
The nomenclature for this
herb is fairly simple scientifically-Euphrasia
But the same common
name-eyebright-is used to describe several other kinds of
plants by different herbalists.
Witness this for example:
John Lust calls American centaury, "eyebright" as well,
while Mrs Grieve assigns the name "eyebright" to common
clary and, of all things,
The 'doctrine of
signatures: common throughout Medieval Europe, suggested
that the dark spot in the middle of the red, purple or white
flowers would make it very useful for the eyes; hence its
popularity grew as a result of this superstitious belief.
Combinations: In catarrhal
conditions it works well with golden rod, elder flower or
In allergic conditions
where the eyes are affected it may be combined with ephedra.
As an eye lotion it mixes
with golden seal and distilled witch hazel.
a cup of boiling water on 1 tsp of the dried herb and leave
to infuse for 5-10 minutes. Drink 3 times a day.
Place a tsp of the dried herb in 1 pint of water and boil
for 10 minutes.
Let cool slightly, moisten
a compress in the lukewarm liquid, wring out slightly and
place over the eyes.
Leave the compress in
place for 15 minutes.
Repeat several times a
Take 1-4ml 3 times a day.
Gender: Hot; Planet: Sun/Leo;
Element: Air; Basic Power: Clairvoyance.
This is the best
herb to choose when working to change the energy of one's
attitude to a more positive state.
In times of difficulty,
Eyebright allows one to see where the growth and stress can
lead, and to carry within the joy of perceiving growth and
better times ahead.
It brings to the mind a
sense of perspective, that makes even hard trials fall into
the perspective of minor difficulties in the whole of time.
Eyebright is often
included in magickal tonics, or during periods of fasting
and study, for it makes the work pleasant and the time
It is said to aid the
memory, and to bring clear thinking.
This is an herb of
which fluid condensers are made, as a lotion for the eyes
and psychic channels of the body, clarifying visualization
and assisting the practitioner in gaining visionary
Eyebright is a
primary choice when working magical ritual to help another,
for it will allow the user to have the necessary change of
attitude, thus able to help the self.
plant can clear up any soreness and prevent running eyes.
It also accentuates the
brightness of the eyes.
To a large handful of the
herb placed in a basin, add 1 pint of boiling water and
allow to stand until almost cool, then strain.
Bathe the eyes with cotton
balls or an eye bath.
The water dissolved in
gelatin makes a soothing gel to apply at night.
Cosmetics from the Earth,
Roy Genders, Alfred van der Marck, 1985; ISBN: 0-912383-20-8
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal
Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997; ISBN: 0-7894-1067-2
The Science of Herbal Medicine,
John Heinerman, Bi-World Publishers, 1979
Mark Pedersen, Pedersen Publishing, 1987
Magic and Medicine of Plants,
Reader's Digest. 1986
Medicinal Plants of the Pacific
West, Michael Moore,
Red Crane Books, 1993
The Master Book of Herbalism,
Rudolf Fritz Weiss, AB Arcanum, 1988
The Complete Illustrated Holistic
Hoffmann, Element Books, 1996
A Modern Herbal,
Mrs. M. Grieve,
Publications, 1971 (1931)
The Energetics of Western Herbs,
Peter Holmes, Artemis Press, 1989
Wild Medicinal Plants,
Anny Schneider, Stackpole Books, 1999; ISBN: 0-8117-2987-7
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