Eyebright is an herb whose name suggests both its action and appearance. The red spots on its white or purple flowers seem to resemble bloodshot eyes. Moreover, its dried stems, leaves and flowers have long been used as a tonic for irritated or infected eyes. Eyebright can be applied to eyes that are itching, red and tearing from hay fever, other allergies or colds. Herbalists also recommend it to alleviate the symptoms of conjunctivitis, and some advocates suggest that drinking eyebright tea can help to maintain good vision.
Eyebright teas are also used to diminish nasal congestion and coughs that accompany hay fever, colds and sinusitis. The herb, indigenous to heaths and pastures throughout Great Britain and other parts of Europe, by now has become naturalized in the United States.
Applied externally for:
Taken internally for:
Over the counter:
Available in bulk, capsules and tinctures.
Tea: 1 cup boiling water poured onto 2 tsp. dried eyebright and steeped for 10 minutes.
Compress: 1 to 2 tbsp. of dried eyebright boiled in 1 pt water for 10 minutes. After the water has cooled to a lukewarm temperature, the mixture strained to remove all parts of the herb, a sterile cloth dipped in the liquid, wrung out, and then placed it over the eyes.
Combinations to be taken orally: To treat respiratory and nasal congestion, eyebright is combined with goldenrod, elder flowers or goldenseal. For hay fever that causes itchy or watery eyes, eyebright is mixed with ephedra. Consult an herbal practitioner for dosages.