Latin: Euphrasia officinalis L. Common name: Billard light Family: Scrophulariaceae/Figwort Family
The genus name Euphrasia has Greek origin. It means cheerfulness, wellbeing. Eyebright is a symbol of joy. The beauty of the flower attracts the viewer magically.
The plant can be found throughout Central Europe, at higher altitudes on sandy and clay soil, on dry, lean meadows and slopes, in moor areas and in open woods. The eyebright is a so-called parasite. With its root suckers (haustoria) it connects with the grass roots to tap the mineral-rich sap flow. The annual plant only reaches a height of a few centimeters. White flowers sit with dark purple veins at the end of the tiny branches. Feature is the yellow spot on the lower lip of the flower (see photo on the right).
Flowering and harvest
The bloom time strongly depends on the location. Depending on the location eyebright flourishes from June to October. At the beginning of the blossoming time, the flowering herb is to be harvested, without the lower parts of the stalk.
Ingredients and healing power
The combination of ingredients, responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect, are the Iridoidglykosid Aucubin with antibiotic properties, flavonoids, tannins, and many others. They are anti-inflammatory, soothing and analgesic.
Side effects of Euphrasia are not known. However, in the external applications hygiene is very important. Also, the tea should be freshly prepared for each application.
Eye wine with low vision
Paracelsus says that the drug because of the power of its image leads itself and he explains an example: “Euphrasia contains in itself the form and the image of the eye. That is why it penetrates into its limb (the eye) and into the form of the limb (the eye), when it is ingested, so that Euphrasia becomes a whole eye.”1
“For old people it is a very good arcanum for the eyes. It should be drunk with wine in case of poor eyesight (amblyopia).”
He gives the following eye-wine recipe 2:
- 6 oz (210 g) fennel (Foeniculi)
- 2 oz (70 g) eyebright (Euphrasia)
- 1.5 oz (52.5 g) centaury (Florum centaureae)
- Start the eye-wine
A recipe by Olaf Rippe and Margret Madejsky 3:
- 30 g fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
- 15 g eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)
- 5 g centaury (Centaurium erythraea)
- On 1 liter medicated wine
In folk medicine
Eyebright is considered as an excellent eye remedy that has proven itself traditionally in eye conjunctivitis. The conjunctiva of the eye is a mucous membrane. It is similar to the oral or nasal mucosa, but much finer. The first signs of an inflamed conjunctiva are a feeling of dry eyes, as if filled with sand, itching, burning eyes, sticky eyes in the morning when awakening. The cause for that are dry air produced by central heating, excessive use of the screen, eyelashes affecting the eye because of wrong directional growth, drafts, wind, cold, dust, etc. A simple conjunctivitis can be treated by oneself. If after 2-3 days of self-treatment no cure occurs, a medical consultation would become necessary.
Blanch 2 teaspoons eyebright herb with ¼ liters of boiling water and leave for 3 minutes. Adding 1 pinch of sea salt or 1 drop of brine makes the eyewash agreeable because it is adjusted to the salinity of the tear fluid. For hygienic reasons, the tea is poured through a paper filter, such as coffee filter paper, for the treatment of the eyes.
The pharmacist M. Pahlow4 recommends: “The tea acts on various eye infections, especially in conjunctivitis and blepharitis. Even with eye injuries, in which corneal ulcers are to be feared, eyebright acts as both analgesic, as well as healing agent. And in treating the so-called stye, eyebright tea, mixed with chamomile in equal parts is effective as a warm compress. My special advice: in all previously mentioned external applications of eyebright tea, a tea blend that includes fennel fruits has proven itself. Fennel (an experience of folk medicine) strengthens and “clears” the eye and is effective thanks to its essential oil content which by itself is also antiseptic.”
Among the first measures of conjunctivitis belong, inter alia, to refrain from eye rubbing, to wear sunglasses in sunny weather and to make eye baths daily.
Bruno Vonarburg5 recommends the following:
“1 tsp of herbal mixture consisting of eyebright, fennel (in a mortar freshly crushed) and chamomile in equal parts (pharmacy) blanched with boiling water in a cup, brew for 3 minutes. Add 1 pinch of sea salt. Pour through a coffee filter paper. The still lukewarm liquid is poured into a glass eye. Eye glasses are also available at the drugstore / pharmacy.
Bathe the opened eyes in the morning and evening for 2-3 minutes. Take eye baths as long until one has no more complaints.”
Eye bath – Instructions
As preparation of the eye bath, clean thoroughly the eye lashes and eyelids from the make-up. Fill the eye tub and then press it on the eye that no water can leak. Put the head slightly back so that the eye is covered by the tea. Blink several times, so that the eye is well moistened.
In case of eye inflammation pastor Künzle also recommends to provide for warm feet and, if possible, to take a warm foot bath with salt and wood ash in the evening.
Soak a cotton ball (cotton pad) in freshly prepared, body-warm tea. Wipe the edges of the lids from the outside inwards in one process. Dispose of cotton ball and use a new one. Repeat 3 – 4 times a day. Hygiene is very important in this application. This includes washing the hands with soap between the eye washings and consistently using a new cotton pad every single time.
Soak cotton pads in freshly prepared, body-warm tea and put it on the eyes. Then put a cloth over the eyes to keep them warm. After 20 minutes, remove the cotton pads. Have a rest for 20 minutes.
Eye tea mixture
By Dr. Susanne Vogel6 in chronic conjunctivitis and for tired and strained eyes:
- 40 g eyebright (Euphrasia)
- 20 g plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
- 20 g fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
- 20 g centaury (Centaurium erythraea)
- Drink daily 3 to 4 cups of it and use the rest of the tea for eye compresses.
In the pharmacy, one can also buy finished preparations based on Euphrasia in the form of eye drops, tinctures, homoeopathic globules, spagyric sprays for internal and external use. An eye bath can also be prepared with a tincture. For traveling the sterile packaged Euphrasia portions of Wala are practical, for example, in case of eye burning after a swim in the public swimming pool. It will help to wash the eyes with warm water and give Euphrasia eye drops into the conjunctival pocket. It goes without saying that conjunctivitis has nothing to do in a public swimming pool because of the risk of infection.
Important: The applications stated do not replace professional consultation of a doctor or therapist. Especially with purulent conjunctivitis or if a slight inflammation will not subside after three days of natural self-treatment, a medical examination is indicated.
All photographs by the author.
Dr. Aschner: Paracelsus. Sämtliche Werke. Anger Verlag. 1993. Bd I, S. 530
Dr. Aschner: Paracelsus. Sämtliche Werke. Anger Verlag. 1993. Bd III, S. 559
Rippe, Olaf; Madejsky, Margret: Die Kräuterkunde des Paracelsus. 2006. AT. S. 162
Pahlow, M.: Das grosse Buch der Heilpflanzen. 2006. Gräfe & Unzer. p. 62
Vonarburg, Bruno: Heilen mit Frischpflanzentropfen. Krankheiten selbst erkennen und sanft behandeln. Midena. 2000. page 45
Dr. med. Susanne Vogel: Heilpflanzen für die vorderen Augen-abschnitte. Staakmann. 2008. p. 33
Erika Röthlisberger, Hochhüsliweid 13, 6006 Luzern-Switzerland