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Herbs > Euphrasia (Euphrasia officinalis)

Also known as Eyebright, Euphrasia can be found growing wild in very difficult conditions, such as railway lines and rubbish dumps. It is a fairly small, tender-looking plant which produces white flowers with purple veins in summer. The name "euphrasia" is Greek, meaning "good cheer".

Healing uses:
To make euphrasia tea, add 1 heaped teaspoon of the dried herb to 3 cups of water. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to stand for an additional 30 minutes before straining.

As its alternate name suggests, euphrasia is very effective for treating eye conditions, including conjunctivitis, eye strain and eye inflammation. For these problems, the tea should be applied directly to the eye with a dropper. Before use, ensure the tea is barely lukewarm to prevent burns to this sensitive area. It should also be well strained through fine gauze. Alternatively, a compress of euphrasia can be made by soaking clean cloths in the warm tea and laying them over the eyes. This will ease the conditions and is also very relaxing. In severe cases, the treatment should be repeated 3-5 times per day.

As well as treating eye conditions, euphrasia is excellent for a wide range of allergic inflammations. Drinking the tea will ease hay fever and similar allergies as well as sinusitis and generally congested nasal passages. For best results, drink the tea as hot as possible. This treatment is also recommended for coughs, sore throats and upper respiratory tract infections.

The compress of euphrasia mentioned above will alleviate the irritation associated with eczema, particularly weeping eczema. Leave the compress in place for 30 minutes, then repeat with a fresh cloth if necessary.

Growing Euphrasia:
Euphrasia is a semi-parasitic plant – it obtains nutrients from the roots of various species of grass. It will grow readily from seed scattered around host plants, where it can grow to a height of up to 30cm. It is very hardy, and will grow in a wide range of conditions and soils, including very poor soil. Conversely, it does not grow well in rich fertile soil. The whole plant is harvested when flowering and allowed to dry before use.




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