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
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.
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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