Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) is a pretty, annual creeping plant growing to about 12 inches tall and is semi-parasitic as it attaches its roots to the roots of grasses. It produces white scalloped shaped flowers with yellow spots and purple markings.
The name Euphrasis is derived from the Greek word Euphrosyne, meaning gladness. In Greek mythology, the daughters of Zeus, more commonly known as the ‘Three Graces,’ were Euphrosyne, Aglaea, and Thalia and were said to represent joy, beauty, and charm. Therefore, it is thought the herb may have been named after Euphrosyne as the herb brings joy and gladness to those who use the herb suffering from eye problems.
Nicolas Culpeper, the famous 17th Century Herbalist, said this of Eyebright: “If the herb were but as much used as it is neglected, it would half spoil the spectacle maker’s trade; and a man would think that reason should teach people to prefer the preservation of their natural before artificial spectacles……..helpeth all infirmities of the eye that cause dimness of sight…..being used in many ways, it strengthens the weak brain or memory.”
Euphrasia officinalis may help with eye conditions: eye inflammation, eye strain, conjunctivitis, weepy, stingy eyes associated with allergies. In addition, the stems, leaves, and flowers of Eyebright are used in herbal and cosmetical preparations such as lotions, eye creams, herbal tea, and tinctures.
Eyebright is also known for many other health benefits. It contains antioxidant and nutritional properties such as Vitamins B, C, E, antioxidants, flavonoids, alkaloids, iridoid glycosides, beta-carotene, tannins, and volatile oils. Due to its free radical scavenging, anti-inflammatory, and astringent actions are beneficial to soothe irritated, tired, or itchy skin and smooth the eye contour area.