Euphrasia (Eyebright) is a genus of about 450 species of herbaceous flowering plants in the family Orobanchaceae (formerly treated in the family Scrophulariaceae), with a cosmopolitan distribution. They are semi-parasitic on grasses.
Many species are found in alpine or sub-alpine meadows where snow is common. Flowers usually are borne terminally, are zygomorphic, and have a lower petal shaped like a lip. The most common flower colours are purple, blue-white, and violet. Some species have yellow markings on the lower petal to act as a guide to pollinating insects.
Alternative names are Augentrostkraut, Euphraisiae herba, and Herbed Euphraise.
EthnobotanyThe common name Eyebright refers to the plant's use in treating eye conditions.
The plant was known to classical herbalists, but then was not referred to until mentioned again in 1305. Nicholas Culpeper assigned it to the Leo, claiming that it strengthened the brain. It was also used to treat bad memory and vertigo.
Medicinal UseHerbalists use eyebright as a poultice with or without concurrent administration of a tea for the redness, swelling, and visual disturbances caused by blepharitis and conjunctivitis. The herb is also used for eyestrain and to relieve inflammation caused by colds, coughs, sinus infections, and sore throats. Parts used include the leaf, the stem, and small pieces of the flowers.
Typical Preparations include a warm compress or tea. It is also convenient as an extract or capsule.
The safety of this herb during pregnancy and lactation is not proven.
eyebright in Bulgarian: Очанка
eyebright in Danish: Øjentrøst
eyebright in German: Augentrost
eyebright in Spanish: Euphrasia
eyebright in French: Euphraise
eyebright in Lithuanian: Akišveitė
eyebright in Dutch: Ogentroost
eyebright in Portuguese: Euphrasia
eyebright in Swedish: Ögontröst