Table of Contents
- Edible Uses of Eyebright
- Medicinal Uses of Eyebright
- Alternative Uses of Drug Eyebright
- Growing Euphrasia SPP.
Drug eyebright (euphrasia stricta), the most common eyebright to be seen around Ontario, was brought over by settlers as an herb for making an eye wash. It’s a nonnative edible and medicinal plant with a few rarer native relations in Ontario.
Eyebright (euphrasia SPP.) like the pictured drug eyebright (euphrasia stricta), while surprisingly not in Haliburton Flora, is fairly common here. I’ve seen it in old fields, driveways, and along trails and parking lots. Common eyebright (euphrasia nemorosa) may also be spotted in our area. There are 10 euphrasia SPP. noted on iNat for Ontario.
Edible Uses of Eyebright
The bitter leaves are edible.
Medicinal Uses of Eyebright
Eyebright is primarily said to support these body systems:
Medicinal tags include Anticatarrhal and Astringent. See Medicinal tag key for more information.
Common usage includes astringent aerial parts, which tighten mucous membranes, used to dry up runny, watery discharge from the eyes and respiratory passages. For the eyes, it’s usually applied in a compress or eyewash, perhaps mixed with witch hazel. Be sure to see a professional for eye issues that get worse or last more than a couple days. And note sometimes weepy eyes are actually a sign of dryness, in which case you wouldn’t want to use a drying astringent. Runniness from allergies, allergic conjunctivitis, is a more apt condition for eyebright to support.
An herb more commonly found around here used for such an eye wash is yarrow.
Alternative Uses of Drug Eyebright
It has been used as an ingredient in herbal smoking mixes.
Growing Euphrasia SPP.
Apparently, it’s hard to cultivate eyebrights, but the nonnative eyebrights are abundant in patches here. They may be one of the herbs you see filling in driveways and trails along with the likes of pineapple-weed, wood sorrel, white clover, etc. As a nonnative it doesn’t provide much value to wildlife.
Around Lake Superior there is a native Euphrasia hudsoniana, Hudson Bay eyebright, an arctic-alpine plant that is a relic from the last glacial ice retreat. There are other obscure native eyebrights.
And the Usual Cautions:
1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation.
2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk.
3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored. Herbalists do not have an official certification yet, but that may be in the works.
4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.
5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.
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