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eyebright (euphrasia officinalis)
how to grow:
Eyebright is an annual. I have no experience with growing eyebright but I might try it in the future. It is said to be a bit difficult to grow as eyebright will only grow together with grass. It is semiparasitic as it uses the roots of the grass to get its nutrition. To grow eyebright it is recommended to put the seeds into already existing grass areas in your garden. Mix the seeds with a bit of sand and press them in loosened soil in a way that they are still visible as they need light to germinate. Alternatively you can plant eyebright in containers together with grass which might be a good idea in areas like our garden in Montreal where an early frost is a possibility.
Eyebright has become one of my favorite herbs. One morning in winter while I had already come down with the flu I woke up with my left eye infected and soon it also started to swell. At first I tried to use some chamomile infusion on my eye as the herb had helped me before but not this time. Then I finally remembered eyebright. I asked my husband to prepare an eyebright infusion for me. I soaked the tea in a paper towel and pressed it gently on my eye and almost instantly the swelling reversed. It was amazing. I used my eyebright compress for a few more days putting it on my eyes almost all day (while of course changing the tea soaked paper towel frequently) until my eye infection completely disappeared.
Now I drink a lot of eyebright tea or take it in capsule form as I have discovered that it also improves my vision.
I also often buy eyebright tea for a good friend of mine. She had always complained about eye problems because of working on a computer and starring into a computer screen for too long but drinking eyebright tea regularly really solved her woes.
In folk medicine eyebright was used for all kind of eye problems. It is said that an eyewash (put an eyebright infusion on the eyes) is even helpful for pets with eye infections or eye inflammations.
To make a tea you need to gather the whole plant while it is blooming in summer and/or fall and let it dry by air. Use 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb with one hot cup of water and let it steep for 10 minutes.
cautions and possible side effects:
- If your conjunctivitis doesn't improve after a short time or hasn't disappeared completely after a couple days you should see a doctor rather sooner than later.
- There are no studies on the use of eyebright during pregnancy so it is probably better to not use it during that time.
- The Herbal Handbook: A User's Guide to Medical Herbalism by David Hoffmann, (Healing Arts Press; 3rd Edition, Revised Edition of The Herb User's Guide edition (Feb. 1 1998), ISBN-13: 978-0892817825)
- 20,000 Secrets of Tea: The Most Effective Ways to Benefit from Nature's Healing Herbs by Victoria Zak, (Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc (Dec 1 1999), ISBN-13: 978-0440235293)
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