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Euphrasia officinalis (Scrophulariaceae)

EYEBRIGHT, CASSE LUNETTE

 

Eyebright's flower looks like a bloodshot eye, which encouraged use of the herb for eye ailments. Herbalists still give it for sinusitis and conjunctivities, and homeopaths use it for hayfever.

 

Although this herb is named after Euphrosyne, one of the three Greek Graces, there are no records of its medicinal use by the ancient Greeks. First records of such use are from the 14th century when the herbalist Hildegarde recommended it to "strengthen the head, eyes, and memory". A native of Europe but found in western Asia and North America, eyebright is a semi-parasitic plant, always growing in association with meadow grass. It is an annual with oval toothed leaves and, in mid- to late summer, flowers that have a double-lobed lower lip with a yellow patch and fine red or purple veins resembling a bloodshot eye.

 

PARTS USED

Whole herb.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Iridoid glycosides, including acubin; tannins; phenolic acids; volatile oil; choline.

 

ACTIONS

Relieves catarrh; astringent; anti-inflammatory.

 

MEDICINAL USE

Given as an astringent for nasal and upper respiratory catarrh, sinusitis, and conjunctivitis. It is also used in homeopathy (Euphrasia) for hayfever.

 

PREPARATIONS

Infusion, tincture, extract, homeopathic remedies.

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