Eyebright comes from the flowers, leaves and stems of Euphrasia officinalis, an annual plant native to Europe, Western Asia and North America. The plant's common name comes from the red spots that cover its white and purple petals -- they resemble bloodshot eyes -- as well as its purported eye health-promoting properties.
Eyebright use stretches back to at least 300 B.C., when the Greek biologist and philosopher Theophrastus used infusions of the herb to soothe eye infections.** During the middle ages, the herb was used in compresses, rinses or baths to reduce irritation and infection; in Milton's "Paradise Lost," the archangel Michael uses Euphrasia to soothe the biblical Adam's eyes.** Eyebright was also used to soothe irritated nasal passages and relieve congestion.** The dried flowers were added to tobacco and smoked to ease discomfort from colds and upper respiratory tract issues.**
Eyebright’s topical activity is believed in some traditional practices to help relieve inflamed mucus membranes in the eyes, including the eyelids and conjunctiva, reducing drainage and relieving eye redness, dryness and itching.** It is thought to help ease the effects of eye fatigue.** While it has an extensive history as an ingredient in eyebright drops for conjunctivitis, clinical evidence for its use in these applications is lacking.**
When taken internally, eyebright supplies vitamins A, B, C and D, iron, copper, zinc and essential fatty acids. Studies show that the herb also supplies flavonoids and tannins, which have antioxidant properties.** Eyebright herb additionally supplies high levels of aucubin, an iridoid glycoside that has liver-protective properties.**
As an ingestible supplement, it is believed to support healthy mucus membranes in the sinuses and respiratory tract.** It may promote comfort in times of sinusitis, cough, and sore throat by soothing mucous membranes.**
Eyebright supplements are available in capsule, tincture and dried form. It is sometimes taken internally as a tea, and is used externally in traditional practices in compresses and eye washes.
Eyebright Directions for Use
Always consult with your medical provider before adding any nutritional supplement to your wellness routine. Thus far, there is no standard established eyebright dosage. Eyebright supplements typically supply between 100-500 mg per serving.