No other ingredient in our ingredient series is more aptly named than eyebright. The name suggests bright vision and bright eyes, but in reality, it does so much more. It gets its name from the fact that herbalists most often use it to treat eye infections.
Back before the development of modern medicine, all people had was what the Earth had given them. Our ancestors made good use of every plant and paved the way for the natural remedies we have today. Eyebright is an herb that has a long history of healing that continues to this day.
From the 1300s to Today
Eyebright, or sometimes referred to as euphrasia, is an elegant plant that’s often found in different parts of the United Kingdom. It can also be found scattered around Europe normally where snow is common especially in the Alps.
This tiny plant has a green stem that grows from two to eight inches high. At the top of the stems are flowers which are often colored purple, violet or a blue-white color. Some flowers will have yellow pigmentation at the base of the petals which acts as a guide for pollinating insects.
Though eyebright has been used for centuries by herbalists, it was mentioned for the first time in 1305 by Nicholas Culpeper, who claimed the herb “straightened the brain.” In the 1300s, eyebright was commonly used to treat poor memory and vertigo.
Though little scientific evidence supports Culpeper’s claims and effectiveness of eyebright on the brain, as medicine became more sophisticated in the Elizabethan era so did the use of the plant.
Instead of being used to straighten up a person’s brain (often to no avail), it was used to more effectively treat ailments such as eye infections, coughs, sinus infections, hay fever (and other allergies), and sore throats1. Drinking eyebright every morning was recommended. The herb could be found in tea form or sometimes in ales called Eyebright Ale.
Eyebright can be used as both a topical treatment (applied directly to the affected area) or it can be ingested. It comes in a variety of ingestible forms, which we will be covering in the later sections.
It is generally safe in small doses. When using eyebright to treat yourself, it’s important to be cautious. Too much of anything can be bad, just like too little of it can be, too. You can talk to your doctor about the right dosage of eyebright for you.
Though eyebright is safe, there is, unfortunately, a gap when it comes to the effects it has on pregnant women. Because of the lack of studies on pregnant women, it’s better to avoid this herb while pregnant. If you desperately need eyebright during your pregnancy, consult your doctor before using it.
Eyebright for Eyesight
The plant has long been used as a topical treatment for redness, inflammation and itchiness around the eye. The flowers would be left to soak in boiled water. Once the water had cooled to a warm temperature, the patient would put the cup around their eye and let it bath in the eyebright solution.
This would relieve people of any outer eye discomfort. Some claim it would also restore tone to the whites of the eye. Though eyebright baths are not commonly used today (the risk of getting foreign objects in the eye is too high), eyebright eye drops are widely available and offer similar relief.
As the herb can also be ingested, it has been credited with treating internal eye conditions as well. Some of these eye conditions include conjunctivitis and blood vessel inflammation. It is also said that eyebright can improve circulation in the eye.
It is also an antioxidant that helps the eye absorb more vitamin C and vitamin A2.
Forms of Eyebright
Eyebright comes in a variety of forms. Chances are, you won’t find this plant in your local park, but that’s ok. There are better and more effective alternative forms than the actual plant.
Let’s talk about externally applied forms first. Eyebright can be found in eye drops, lotions, compresses, and eye baths. All these options provide your eyes with quick relief from outer eye discomfort. The lotion is especially good for those with itchy and dry eyelids.
As for ingested eyebright, there are a couple of options; they can come it teas, herbal tobacco (used to treat lung conditions), and supplements like our Ocu-Plus Formula. An eyebright tea at the start of each day is a relaxing way to stay healthy and wake up your senses before a long day of work.
Supplements come in capsules and in liquid form. Capsules are quick fixes that can be taken once a day. They’re extremely convenient for those who may not have time for tea.
Liquid supplements are another way to get a quick daily dose and can be taken with food. Add a few drops of eyebright to your meals and you’ll feel revitalized!
There really is no “best” source of eyebright, because each form of it does a different job. However, there are some that work quicker than others for faster results.
Eyebright supplements are the way to go if you have an infection that needs treatment immediately. Otherwise, taken daily will only work to prevent such infections and other vision conditions.
Eyebright lotion is the most effective topical treatment. A soothing lotion will provide immediate relief and it’s quicker than an eye bath or compress. Baths and compresses can take up to 20 minutes or more, but once the lotion is applied, you’re ready to start your day. You don’t have to wait for the effects to kick in.
If you’re suffering from lots of outer eye discomfort, eyebright is your knight in shining armor. Not only will it provide relief and reduce any inflammation, it’s incredibly relaxing for your eyes to defocus after being on high alert all day long. Give this herbal treatment a try!