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Eyebright Information - Drug Interactions, Uses and Benefits

Taxonomic Class

Scrophulariaceae

Common Trade Names

None known.

Common Forms

Available as capsules, infusion, and lotion and in eye makeup remover.

Source

Eyebright comes from Euphrasia officinalis (common name eyebright), an annual plant that grows to about I ft and is mainly found in Europe. Eyebright is odorless and has a bitter, salty taste.

Chemical Components

Eyebright is composed of carbohydrates, iridoide monoterpenes, tannins, alkaloids, lignans, sterols, phenolic acids, caffeic acids, aucubin, flavonoid glycosides, amino acids, and a volatile fraction.

Actions

None of the plant's constituents exert significant therapeutic effect. Despite the claim that caffeic acid exerts bacteriostatic properties, this effect has not been scientifically documented. A study using extracts of E. officinalis in vitro revealed that eyebright exerts a significant cytotoxic effect .

Reported uses

Eyebright has been claimed to be useful as a lotion or through internal consumption in the treatment of blepharitis and conjunctivitis. Other reported indications include eye fatigue, styes, disorders of muscular and nervous origin, cough, and hoarseness. No clinical trials have examined these claims.

Dosage

Traditional uses suggest the following doses:

For ophthalmic use, soak a pad in an infusion and apply to the eyes as a compress. As an eyewash, 5 to 10 gtt of tincture in water.

For oral consumption, an infusion can be prepared by steeping the plant in boiling water.

Adverse Reactions

CNS: confusion, headache, insomnia, weakness.

EENT: nasal congestion, photophobia, redness and swelling of lid margins, sneezing, toothache, violent pressure in the eyes with tearing, vision disturbances.

GI: constipation.

GU: polyuria.

Respiratory: dyspnea.

Skin: pruritus, sweating.

Interactions

None reported.

Contraindications And Precautions

Avoid using eyebright in pregnant or breast-feeding patients; effects are unknown.

Special Considerations

Monitor for adverse reactions, particularly during ophthalmic use.

Advise the patient that this herb should not be used to treat ophthalmic conditions because of the risk of infection.

Advise the patient to avoid using eyebright because of the risk of cytotoxic effects.

Instruct the patient to report changes in vision and eye swelling, redness, or discharge.

Advise the patient to wear sunglasses and avoid bright light.

Points of Interest

The plant has been used since the Middle Ages to treat bloodshot and irritated eyes. Its use for these conditions evolved because the flowers, which have spots and stripes, resemble bloodshot eyes.

Commentary

No evidence exists that eyebright is effective as an ophthalmic agent.The risk of ophthalmic infection is high with this product because preparations may not be sterile. Thus, eyebright cannot be recommended for use.

   

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