Creeping semi-parasitic annual growing to 20 in (50 cm). Has tiny oval leaves and small scallop-edged white flowers with yellow spots and a black center, somewhat resembling an eye.
Habitat & Cultivation
Common in Europe, eyebright thrives in meadows and open grassland. It is gathered in summer when in flower.
Eyebright contains iridoid glycosides (including aucubin), flavonoids, tannins, lignans, and phenolic acids. Aucubin has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic activity.
History & Folklore
Eyebright’s use for eye problems was due in part to the Doctrine of Signatures, an ancient belief that the way that a plant looks—its “sign”—indicates the ailments for which it should be used as a medicine.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Eyebright relieves inflammation and tightens mucous membranes and finds specific use in the treatment of conjunctivitis and blepharitis. Its ability to counter mucus means that it is often used for infectious and allergic conditions affecting the eyes, middle ear, sinuses, and nasal passages. Eyebright counters liquid mucus, but it should be used guardedly for dry and stuffy congestion, which tends to be made worse by the plant’s astringency.