The name Euphrasia is of Greek origin, derived from Euphrosyne (gladness), the name of one of the three graces who was distinguished for her joy and mirth. It is thought to have been given the plant from the valuable properties attributed to it as an eye medicine preserving eyesight and bringing gladness into the life of the sufferer.
The same Greek word is also given to the linnet. Another old tradition says that it was the linnet who first made use of the leaf for clearing the sight of its young. The young then passed on the knowledge to mankind, who named the plant in its honor.
In the fourteenth century, Eyebright was supposed to cure 'all evils of the eye' and is described as the source of 'a precious water to clear a man's sight.' In the eighteenth century, eyebright tea was used. In Queen Elizabeth's time there was a kind of ale called "Eyebright Ale".
Using Eyebright as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
The medicinal part is the flowering plant. Eyebright is odorless and has a bitter and salty taste. It is semi-parasitic.
Although neglected nowadays, modern herbalists still have much faith in this herb and recommend its use in diseases of the sight, weakness of the eyes, ophthalmia, etc., combining it often with Golden Seal in a lotion stated to be excellent for general disorders of the eyes.
The juice from the plant in the fresh state is sometimes used, or an infusion in milk, but the simple infusion in water is the more common form. An infusion of 1 ounce of the herb to a pint of boiling water should be used and the eyes bathed three or four times a day.
When there is much pain, it is considered desirable to use a warm infusion rather more frequently for inflamed eyes until the pain is relieved. In ordinary cases, the cold application is found sufficient.
Eyebright stimulates the liver to remove toxins from the body.
In folk medicine, Eyebright is used for blepharitis, conjunctivitis, styes, eye fatigue symptoms, functional eye disorders of muscular and nervous origin, coughs and hoarseness.
In Iceland, the expressed juice is used for most ailments of the eye, and in Scotland the Highlanders make an infusion of the herb in milk and anoint weak or inflamed eyes with a feather dipped in it.
The dried eyebright herb is an ingredient in British Herbal Tobacco, which is smoked most usefully for chronic bronchial colds.
To prepare a tea, add 2 to 3 gm of finely cut drug to boiling water; strain after 5 to 10 minutes.
Culinary Uses of Eyebright
Eyebright has no known culinary uses.
Please consult your physician for proper use of Eyebright if you have any eye condition(s).
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