Thursday, June 7, 2012

Daily Herb-o-Scope - Get your eyes right with Eyebright

Eyebright (Euphrasia spp.) is a good example of the law of similar. This is the idea that like is cured by like, so if a plant looks like a particular part of the body then it is likely to help that part of the body. Eyebright flowers resemble blood shot eyes and as its name describes, eyebright helps to promote healthy eyes and treats inflamed and unhealthy eyes. The areal parts of the plant are used medicinally (leaves and flowers) having antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties.  Eyebright has a bitter taste and is cool and dry.  
In 1903 John William Fyfe describe eyebright as being helpful in cases of “profuse secretions of mucus from the eyes and nose especially when there heat and pain in the frontal region.” In 1922 Harvey Wickes Feltner expanded on this saying” it is equally effective when acute catarrhs” (inflammation of the mucous membranes with discharge) “extend to the ears through the Eustachian passage and are attended by earache, headache, sneezing and coughing.”  I like to quote these early texts because they give a very detailed picture of the symptomology that specific plants address.
 Overall, Eyebright is great for issues of the upper respiratory system by helping to resolve mucus damp and stop discharge. It can be used for prevention and relief in the early stages of sinus infections, colds, congestion, hoarseness, pinkeye, sore throat, styes, conjunctivitis, eye strain, weak vision, vertigo, and scratches to the eyeball. 

 Eyebright also stimulates the liver to clean the blood. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this effect on the liver explains why eyebright is helpful to the eyes. TCM describes the liver as opening to the eyes. So the health of the liver can be seen in the condition and health of the eyes. Jaundice is a good illustration of this. When the liver is in severe distress there is a yellowing of the eyes.
Eyebright tea or the fresh pressed juice can be used as an eye wash for many eye issues or as a nasal wash but you must be very careful that you are using a sterile container. To make an eyebath using tea, put 1.5 grams of herb into 1 cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Then strain and refrigerate the liquid in an airtight sterile container. Use within two days. If you have reoccurring eye issues, you may want to purchase an eyecup. Its a little cup that fits around the eye so you can easily do an eyewash. Eyebright can also be taken internally as a tea or a tincture. Peter Holms suggests an infusion of 6-16grams or 2-5 ml of tincture that is a 1:3 ratio in 40 percent alcohol.
          Although generally regarded as safe, eyebright may cause constipation, confusion, coughing, headache, sneezing and tearing of the eyes. Also avoid use during pregnancy and in cases of extreme congestion because it may make the condition worse.  For serious eye disorders, use eyebright only under the guidance of a health care professional.
Eyebright can be a great addition for individuals who are stuck behind a computer to combat eye strain. Making a blend of eyebright and bilberry can have a great effect on enhancing vision. Taken internally or used topically this herb is sure to help you see clearer.

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