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Eyebright

Scientific Name(s): Euphrasia officinale L.
Common Name(s): Eyebright

Clinical Overview

Use

Although eyebright preparations have been used to treat a variety of conditions, specifically inflammatory eye disease, clinical trials are lacking.

Dosing

Clinical studies are lacking to provide guidance. Single-dose homeopathic eye drops are available commercially and are used up to 5 times/day. Tinctures and extracts of the fresh herb have been used, and an oral form was administered in 1 study evaluating use in preventing conjunctivitis.

Contraindications

None well documented.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Multiple adverse symptoms, including nausea and constipation, confusion, weakness, sneezing, rhinitis, cough, dyspnea, insomnia, polyuria, and diaphoresis from 10 to 60 drops of eyebright tincture have been reported. Only sterile ophthalmic preparations should be used. Homeopathic doses are unlikely to exert any adverse reactions because of the minimal amounts ingested.

Toxicology

Information regarding toxicology is limited.

Botany

Euphrasia is a small annual plant that grows to about 30 cm and has oval leaves that can have a variable appearance. Flowers bloom from July to September and were thought by early healers to resemble bloodshot eyes, perhaps leading to their use for diseases of the eye.Eyebright 1931 The plant is believed to have originated from European wild plants; however, many species are attributed to the genus Euphrasia, with E. officinalis considered a nomen ambiguum (Latin for "ambiguous name") in botany.Duke 2002, Khan 2009, USDA 2015

Eyebright should not be confused with the alternative common name for "Brazilian tea" (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis).Duke 2008 Synonyms include Euphrasia rostkoviana Hane and Euphrasia stricta J.P. Wolff ex J.F. Lehm.Duke 2002

History

Eyebright was said to have been used for eye infections by the Greek philosopher Theophrastus (371-287 BC), sometimes known as the "father of botany," and by the Greek physician Dioscorides (AD 40-90).Bartram 1998 The plant was used in traditional African-American herbal medicine and has been used in homeopathy to treat conjunctivitis and other ocular inflammations.Boyd 1984, Lans 2007, Leffler 2014

Euphrasia was used as a 14th-century cure for "all evils of the eye," and an eyebright ale was described in the Elizabethan era. It was a component of British "herbal tobacco," which was smoked for chronic bronchial conditions and colds. Other early uses include treatments for allergies, cancers, coughs, conjunctivitis, earaches, epilepsy, headaches, hoarseness, inflammation, jaundice, ophthalmia, rhinitis, skin ailments, and sore throat.Leffler 2014

Chemistry

Eyebright primarily contains tannins and gallotannins.Duke 1992 In addition, the plant contains minerals, vitamins, fats, and a volatile oil. The iridoid glycosides, including catalpol, euphroside and ixoroside, acteoside; the lignan dehydrodiconiferyl alcohol 4-beta-D-glucoside; the phenylpropanoid glycoside eukovoside; and phenolic acids and flavonoids, including apigenin, are of interest.Blazics 2011, Duke 1992, Petrichenko 2005, Shuya 2004

Uses and Pharmacology

Anti-inflammatory (ophthalmic)

Animal data

Anti-inflammatory effects have been demonstrated in rodents.Petrichenko 2005 The leaves of the plant have been traditionally used to treat eye conditions in chickens in Trinidad and Tobago.Lans 2007

Clinical data

Anti-inflammatory activity has been shown using human corneal cells, with decreased cytokine expression observed.Paduch 2014 The use of homeopathic-strength eye drops has been evaluated in an open-label study. Patients with noninfective conjunctivitis (n = 65) were included in the design. Adverse events were not observed.Bielory 2003, Stoss 2000 A further large, double-blind study examined orally administered homeopathic Euphrasia 30C (C = centisimal dilution [1 part in 100]; and found no effect in preventing conjunctivitis.Mokkapatti 1992

Other uses

Antioxidant activity of the glycoside acteoside has been demonstrated in laboratory experiments.Mokkapatti 2011 An animal study demonstrated hypoglycemic effects of an aqueous extract of the leaves of Euphrasia.Porchezhian 2000

Dosing

Clinical studies are lacking to provide guidance. Single-dose homeopathic eye drops are available commercially and are used up to 5 times/day.Stoss 2000

Tinctures and extracts of the fresh herb have been used,Duke 2002 and an oral form was administered in 1 study evaluating use in preventing conjunctivitis.Mokkapatti 1992

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use.4 Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Multiple adverse symptoms, including nausea and constipation, confusion, weakness, sneezing, rhinitis, cough, dyspnea, insomnia, polyuria, and diaphoresis from 10 to 60 drops of eyebright tincture have been reported.Duke 2002 Only sterile ophthalmic preparations should be used.Duke 2002 Homeopathic doses are unlikely to exert any adverse reactions because of the minimal amounts ingested, and none were reported in a large (N = 994) study.Mokkapatti 1992

Toxicology

Information regarding toxicology is limited. Acute toxicity tests in mice found toxicity at approximately 4,500 mg/kg of eyebright,Petrichenko 2005 whereas in rats, no toxicity was observed from an aqueous extract of eyebright at dosages up to 6 g/kg.Porchezhian 2000

References

Bartram T. Bartram's Encylcopedia of Herbal Medicine. London, England: Constable & Robinson; 1998.
Bielory L, Heimall J. Review of complementary and alternative medicine in treatment of ocular allergies. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003;3(5):395-399.14501441
Bisset NG, trans-ed. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals: A Handbook for Practice on a Scientific Basis. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1994.
Blazics B, Alberti A, Beni S, Kursinszki L, Tolgyesi L, Kery A. Identification and LC-MS-MS determination of acteoside, the main antioxidant compound of Euphrasia rostkoviana, using the isolated target analyte as external standard. J Chromatogr Sci. 2011;49(3):203-208.
Boyd EL, Shimp LA, Hackney MJ. Home Remedies and the Black Elderly: A Reference Manual for Health Care Providers. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute of Gerontology and College of Pharmacy, University of Michigan; 1984.
Duke JA, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, duCellier J, Duke PK. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2002.
Duke JA, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, Ottesen AR. Duke's Handbook of Medicinal Plants of Latin America. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2008.
Duke J. Handbook of Biologically Active Phytochemicals and Their Activities. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1992.
Euphrasia L. USDA, NRCS. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 30 July 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
Eyebright. In: Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. 1931. http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/e/eyebri20.html. Accessed August 31, 2015.
Khan IA, Abourashed EA. Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley; 2009.
Lans C, Georges K, Brown G. Non-experimental validation of ethnoveterinary plants and indigenous knowledge used for backyard pigs and chickens in Trinidad and Tobago. Trop Anim Health Prod. 2007;39(5):375-385.17944308
Leffler CT, Schwartz SG, Davenport B, Randolph J, Busscher J, Hadi T. Enduring influence of Elizabethan ophthalmic texts of the 1580s: Bailey, Grassus, and Guillemeau. Open Ophthalmol J. 2014;8:12-18.2495930310.2174/1874364101408010012
Mokkapatti R. An experimental double-blind study to evaluate the use of Euphrasia in preventing conjunctivitis. Br Homeopath J. 1992;81(1):22-24.
Paduch R, Wozniak A, Niedziela P, Rejdak R. Assessment of eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis L.) extract activity in relation to human corneal cells using in vitro tests. Balkan Med J. 2014;31(1):29-36.2520716410.5152/balkanmedj.2014.8377
Petrichenko VM, Sukhinina TV, Shramm NI, Babiyan LK, Yushkov VV. The technology and pharmacological properties of dry extract from Euphrasia brevipila grass. Pharm Chem J. 2005;39(3):145-148.
Porchezhian E, Ansari SH, Shreedharan NK. Antihyperglycemic activity of Euphrasia officinale leaves. Fitoterapia. 2000;71(5):522-526.11449500
Shuya C, Shengda Q, Xingguo C, Zhide H. Identification and determination of effective components in Euphrasia regelii by capillary zone electrophoresis. Biomed Chromatogr. 2004;18(10):857-861.15386569
Stoss M, Michels C, Peter E, Beutke R, Gorter RW. Prospective cohort trial of Euphrasia single-dose eye drops in conjunctivitis. J Altern Complement Med. 2000;6(6):499-508.11152054

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This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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