Found on chalky grasslands and meadows, eyebright has long been used in remedies for sore eyes-hence its name. This little plant has downy leaves and small, lipped flowers whose white petals are tinged with mauve and yellow.
All parts above ground
· Plants are collected when they begin to flower in July and August.
· The plants is cut off just above the root and then dried.
· Eyebright is used in decoctions, tinctures, infusions and eye lotions.
The plant’s astringent properties are known to be useful for treating eye problems. A compress soothes styes, inflamed cornea and conjunctivitis. It also cools tired and watering eyes lotions prescribed for these ailments.
In Icelandic medicine, juice squeezed from the plant is used for a variety of eye problems. And Scottish highlanders used to make an infusion of eyebright in milk and paint it onto sore and irritated eyelids with a feather.
An infusion of eyebright taken internally complements any topical eye treatment. It is also anti-catarrhal, making it useful for clearing runny noses, middle ear infections and painful sinuses.
Eyebright is a constituent of British Herbal Tobacco. Smokers with bronchitis may find that smoking this anti-inflammatory preparation soothers their irritable airways.
This hardy plant is semi-parasitic: it will thrive only if it is planted among grasses whose roots provide it with water and nourishment. Sow seed in a wild area of the garden.
· Only use eyebright preparations for eye problems under medical supervision.
· Protect your eyes with sunglasses when taking eyebright.
· Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding
· Overdose may cause itchy or inflamed eyes, breathing difficulties, nausea, insomnia and confusion.
PREPARATION AND DOSAGE
For internal use
TO TREAT COLDS
TINCTURE Take 5 drops in a glass of water two or three times a day; if symptoms persist take 15-40 drops every 3-4 hours.
INFUSION Put 1 heaped teaspoon of dried herb into a cup of boiling water. Steep for a few minutes and strain. Drink 1-2 cups a day.
For external use
TO TREAT inflamed eyelids, styes, conjunctivitis, tired or watery eye
EYE LOTIONS, EYEWASHES, EYE COMPRESSES proprietary products are available but should only be used under the supervision of a medical herbalist or doctor.