The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.
Common Name: Eyebright
Euphrasia officinalis is an annual plant that can grow up to 0.15 metres tall.
It has edible and medicinal uses.
W. Europe, including Britain, to E. Asia.
Moist grassland and chalky pastures, semi-parasitic on grass[
Succeeds in most soils, preferring chalk or limestone[
]. Eyebright is a semi-parasitic plant, growing on the roots of various species of grass[
] and also on Trifolium pratense and Plantago species[
]. The grass does not seem to suffer unduly from this parasitism since eyebright is an annual and its cells do not penetrate very deeply into the grass[
There is some doubt over the validity of the name of this species, some botanists now call it Euphrasia rostkoviana.
Eyebright is a variable aggregate species, some botanists divide it into a number of different species[
]. Only those forms of eyebright which have glandular hairs on the calyx possess medicinal qualities[
]. It hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[
Leaves - raw[
]. They are occasionally used in salads for their slightly bitter flavour[
Eyebright has a long history of herbal use in the treatment of eye problems and is still in current herbal use[
]. It is important that only the correct forms of eyebright, with glandular hairs on the calyx, are used, since other forms do not possess medicinal virtues[
]. Eyebright tightens the mucous membranes of the eye and appears to relieve the inflammation of conjunctivitis and blepharitis[
]. Its ability to counter catarrh means that it is often used for infectious and allergic conditions affecting the eyes, middle ear, sinuses and nasal passages[
The whole plant is anti-inflammatory, astringent, digestive, ophthalmic and slightly tonic[[
]. It is taken internally in the treatment of catarrh, sinusitis, hay fever, upper respiratory tract infections etc[
]. As an ophthalmic, an infusion of the plant can be taken internally or used as an eye wash. Alternatively, the diluted juice can be dropped into the eyes[
]. Some caution should be exercised, experimentally it can induce side effects including dim vision[
]. The plant's astringency makes it inappropriate for treating dry or stuffy congestion[
]. The plant can be used externally as a poultice to aid the healing of wounds[
]. Eyebright should be harvested when in flower and can be dried for later use[
The dried herb is a ingredient of herbal smoking mixtures, used in the treatment of chronic bronchial colds[
A homeopathic remedy is made from the expressed juice of the plant[
]. It is used particularly in the treatment of eye inflammations and colds[
Sow the seed outdoors in situ in early spring amongst grass in a moist but not marshy soil[