Eyebright

Synonyms: Euphrasia, Eyewort.
Scientific Name: Euphrasia officinalis
Family: Scrophulariaceae (Snapdragon family)

Habitat

Europe, particularly central and southern Germany, Italy, the Balkans, Russia.

Constituents

Aucubin and other iridoid glycosides, lignans, flavonoids, tannins, little essential oil.

Description

This meadow-dwelling annual, which reaches a height of 10 to 30 cm, is easily overlooked amidst the sea of summer flowers. At first sight, the white to pale violet flowers, which are no more than 1 cm long, resemble field pansies. With their violet-veined throat and three-lobed lower lip, they might also be taken for small orchids. A prominent sign is the bright yellow spot on the lower lip, the shining eye of the flowers which adorn the many branched stems from late summer to autumn. Invisible to the observer are the root suckers with which eyebright draws nourishment from the roots of neighbouring grasses. This semiparasitic behaviour gives eyebright an advantage over the other plants in the crowded meadow.

Uses

The name reveals the use of this herb: eyewashes or compresses made from the tea have traditionally been used to soothe various inflammations of the eyes and eyelids. Warm compresses of eyebright tea provide relief for sties. Eye drops containing eyebright are used for eye fatigue, photophobia and irritation. Eyebright tea can be taken internally to support the action of the eye drops.

In addition, eyebright also has a fortifying effect on a generally weak constitution.

Interesting Facts

The reason for the scientific name Euphrasia, which comes from the Greek and means gladness or well-being, soon becomes clear when you look into the plant's little face: with its bright yellow spot and fine violet veins it does indeed have a joyful countenance.

In the Middle Ages, eyebright was burnt as incense to achieve clairvoyance.

Farmers don't welcome eyebright in their meadows as they say it reduces the grass yield, which is reflected in some of its German common names such as Wiesenwolf (meadow wolf) or Milchdieb (milk thief). This probably stems from the fact that, as a semiparasite, eyebright draws dissolved minerals from the grasses, which can inhibit their growth.

However, farmers do have one use for eyebright - they use it to predict the weather. If the first flowers appear at the top of the branch, it is said that there will be an early winter.

The Plant at Dr. Hauschka Skin Care

In Dr. Hauschka skin care products the soothing powers of eyebright are found in the refreshing and fortifying Dr. Hauschka Eye Revive, Eyeliner liquid, in Mascara and Volume Mascara.

Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Euphrasia Eye Drops* provide relief for red and irritated eyes.

♦♦♦♦