Jam-packed with flavoniods, tannins and iridoid glycosides, eyebright has been used for centuries in homeopathic and folk medicines as an herbal treatment for eye conditions such as conjunctivitis. It's also known as Euphrasia officinalis. Healthline.com notes that in addition to purported eye care abilities, eyebright offers many health benefits ranging from hepatoprotective to anti-inflammatory effects. Although proponents of eyebright describe it as an all-inclusive eye cure, researchers evaluate eyebright for its health benefits.
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Eyebright is primarily used in the treatment of eye infections and eye-associated irritations. Perhaps most noteworthy is eyebright's ability to treat conjunctivitis or pink eye. The University of Maryland Medical Center informs consumers of the herb's infection-fighting and fluid-drying abilities, which can prove especially helpful when treating symptoms of conjunctivitis. In a study published in a 2007 edition of "The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine," researchers found that when treated with Euphrasia eye drops one to five times daily, 81.5 percent of patients with conjunctivitis displayed complete recovery.
Colds and Allergies
Eyebright is also recommended for the treatment of colds and allergies. Certified Nutritional Consultant Phyllis Balch says in her book "Prescription for Herbal Healing" that eyebright may be useful for treating hay fever, sinusitis and nasal congestion due to its anti-inflammatory and natural astringent properties. Astringent properties may be accounted for by tannins found in eyebright. Tannins offer relief from mucus discharge caused by colds, by tightening nasal mucous membranes.
In addition to its eye care benefits, eyebright may have hepatoprotective benefits. Healthline.com says eyebright contains aucubin, a promising liver-protecting iridoid glycoside. However, Healthline.com also indicates that the promotion of eyebright's hepatoprotector activity remains limited due to insufficient scientific evidence.
Eyebright acts as an anti-inflammatory. Healthline.com indicates that the iridoid glycoside aucubin found in eyebright contains properties similar to the NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) idomethacin. Moreover, a study published in a 2005 edition of the "Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal" examined the components of a dry extract of eyebright and found the extract to possess anti-inflammatory activity. Further research may prove helpful in determining the efficacy of eyebright as a treatment for inflammatory conditions.
Drugs.com says eyebright contains flavonoids and beta-carotene--constituents that may help to strengthen memory. A longitudinal study published in a 2007 edition of the "Archives of Internal Medicine" found that when treated with beta-carotene supplements for 18 years, subjects (men age 65 and older) performed significantly better on verbal memory tests than the placebo group. Although research on beta-carotene is promising, additional research may be needed to validate eyebright as a memory enhancer.