But, do you have that itchy, watery eyes thing going on? Allergy season is in full swing, too.

You could try Eyebright. The scientific name is Euphrasia officinalis, and it is also known as Augentrostkraut, Casse-lunette, Euphraisiae herba and meadow eyebright. Varieties of eyebright are found in meadows across Europe, Asia and North America. Eyebright is a small plant, growing from two to eight inches tall, with white to purplish flowers and serrated leaves. If it is in poor soil it will be sparse and scattered. In good soil it can resemble a small shrub. A partial parasite, it takes some of its food and water from the roots of other plants–usually grasses. It blooms from July through September, is harvested in late summer and air dried.

The active ingredients in Eyebright are probably the tannins. Tannins are astringent chemical substances also found in red wine, tea and fruit.

Used since the Middle Ages, pure eyebright causes burning tears. This follows the homeopathic principle of using like to cure like. Eyebright’s anti-inflammatory and astringent properties make it valuable in the treatment of mucus membrane irritation in the eyes, nose and throat.

Use eyebright medications for irritation caused by allergies, dust and other airborne particles, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), conjunctivitis (pink eye) and other inflammations of the mucus membranes around the eyes. Relieve tired eyes and sties with eyebright. Anti-inflammatory and astringent properties also make it a good treatment for colds, sore throats, sinus infections, bronchitis as it helps to dry up mucus. You can take eyebright internally as a tea or in capsules or tinctures, or apply it externally as a poultice.

Do not make your own Eyebright medication, as the strength of the ingredients can be variable. There are many fine commercially-available products that contain Eyebright mixed with other herbs and tissue salts that increase its effectiveness, such as Elder Flower and Golden Seal, Natrum mur and Kali mur.

WARNINGS:

The above article is for information only. Inflammation or irritation of the eyes or sinuses can be signs of potentially serious infections. Before using any Eyebright product, you should consult your physician. You should not use this information instead of seeking the advice of a physician. These symptoms can be a warning of an underlying condition that is more serious.

Side effects of Eyebright used as a poultice include: itching, sensitivity to light, swollen eyelids, watery eyes, and changes in vision and eye pressure. Side effects of Eyebright taken orally can include nausea, sweating and confusion. Headache is possible for both.

You should not use Eyebright if you have had recent eye surgery of any kind or while wearing contact lenses. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use Eyebright.

There is no guarantee of the accuracy of this data. There is no clinical proof of the effectiveness of Eyebright for any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

(c) Debra Higgins, 2008

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