Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Euphrasia officinalis

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Euphrasia officinalis


from Greek euphrasia delight.

Eyebright - Euphrasia officinalis - Euphrasia is of Greek origin meaning gladness. Named for one of the Three Graces, Euphrosyne who was distinguished for her joy and mirth. Eyebright is used as an astringent and a lotion for the eyes.


Traditional name

Euphragia alba. E. candida. E. latifolia. E. pusilla.

Used parts

Tincture of the whole plant


N.O.  Subclass:  Asteridae;  Order: Scrofulariales  ; Family:  Scrophulariaceae   or Figwort  or Snapdragon Family


Original proving

Allen: Cyclopoedia, V. 4. Cyclop. Drug Path., V. 2. Hahnemann:
 Mat. Med. Pura. Hering: Guid. Symptoms, V. 5. Jahr: Symp. Codex. Possart:
 Hom. Arz., pt. 2.
      Adler: Brit. Jl. Hom., V. 16, p. 671.
      Boyce: A. H. Z., V. 49, p. 23.
      Kleinert: A. H. Z., V. 66, pp. 196, 204.
      Muller: Zeits. Ver. hom. Aerzte Oesterr, 1857, V. 1, p. 40; V. 2, p.
 504 [3]

Description of the substance

Description---It is an elegant little plant, 2 to 8 inches high, an annual, common on heaths and other dry pastures, especially on a chalky soil, and flowering from July to September, with deeply-cut leaves and numerous, small, white or purplish flowers variegated with yellow.

It varies much in size and in the colour of the corolla, which changes to quite white and yellow. On the mountains and near the sea, or in poor soil, it is often a tiny plant, only an inch or so high, with the stem scarcely branched, but in rich soil it assumes the habit of a minute shrub and forms a spreading tuft, 8 or 9 inches high. The leaves, also, are sometimes almost round, and at other times pointed and narrow, their margins, however, always deeply cut into teeth. The variability of the Eyebright has led to much discussion as to how many species of it are known: continental botanists define numerous species, but our botanists follow Bentham and Hooker, who considered that there is only one very variable species, with three principal varieties: officinalis proper, in which the corolla lip equals or exceeds the tube and the bracts of the flower-spike are broad at the base; gracilis, more slender, the corolla lip shorter than the tube, and the flower-spike bracts narrowed at the base, and maritima, found on the shores of the Shetland Islands in which the capsule is much longer than the calyx.

The stem is erect and wiry, either unbranched in small specimens, or with many opposite branches. The leaves are 1/6 to 1/2 inch long and about 1/4 inch broad, opposite to one another on the lower portion of the stem, alternate above, more often lance-shaped, though sometimes, as already stated, much broader, and with four to five teeth on each side.

The flowers, white, or lilac and purpleveined, are in terminal spikes, with leafy bracts interspersed. The structure of the flower places the plant in the family of the Foxglove and the Speedwell - Scrophulariaceae. The corolla is two-lipped, its lower, tube-like portion being enclosed in a green calyx, tipped with four teeth. The upper lip is two-lobed and arches over the stamens, forming a shelter from the rain. The lower lip is spreading and three-lobed, each lobe being notched. A yellow patch emphasizes the central lobe and purple 'honey guides' on both upper and lower lips - marked streaks of colour - point the way down the throat. Four stamens, with brown, downy anthers lie under the upper lip, in pairs, one behind the other; on the underside of each anther is a stiff spur, the two lowest spurs longer than the others and projecting over the throat of the flower. The upper spurs end in miniature brushes which are intended to prevent the pollen being scattered at the side and wasted. When a bee visitor comes in search of the honey lying round the ovary at the bottom of the petal tube, it knocks against the projecting anther spurs, which sets free the pollen, so that it falls on the insect's head. On visiting the next flower, the bee will then rub its dusty head against the outstanding stigma which terminates the style, or long thread placed on the ovary and projects beyond the stamens, and thus cross-fertilization is effected. But though this is the normal arrangement, other and smaller flowers are sometimes found, which suggests that self- fertilization is aimed at. In these, the corolla elongates after opening, and as the stamens are attached to it, their heads are gradually brought almost up to the stigma and eventually their pollen will fertilize it.

The seeds in all kinds of the flowers are produced in tiny, flattened capsules, and are numerous and ribbed.

The Eyebright will not grow readily in a garden if transplanted, unless 'protected' apparently, by grass. The reason for this is that it is a semi-parasite, relying for part of its nourishment on the roots of other plants. Above ground, it appears to be a perfectly normal plant, with normal flowers and bright green leaves - the leaves of fully parasitic plants are almost devoid of green colouring matter - but below the surface, suckers from its roots spread round and lie on the rootlets of the grassplants among which it grows. Where they are in contact, tiny nodules form and send absorption cells into the grass rootlets. The grass preyed upon does not, however, suffer very much, as the cells penetrate but a slight distance, moreover the Eyebright being an annual, renewing itself from year to year, the suckers on the grass roots to which it is attached also wither in the autumn, so there is no permanent drain of strength from the grass.

Calyx  inferior, of one sepal, tubular,
 cylindrical, ribbed, permanent; the margin in four deep, nearly equal, pointed teeth.  Corolla  of one petal, ringent, open; tube as long as the calyx, cylindrical; upper lip slightly concave, with several notches;  lower lip spreading, divided into three, more or less, unequal, obtuse, cloven, or inversely heart shaped lobes.  Filaments  thread - shaped, directed towards the upper lips.  Anthers  incumbent, large, of two roundish lobes, pointed at the base; the points of the lower anthers elongated into straight, bristly spines.  Germen,  egg - shaped.  Style,
 thread - shaped, as long as the stamens.  Stigma  blunt, undivided. Capsule  oblong, blunt compressed, emarginate (notched at the summit), of two cells, and two membranous valves.  Seeds  several, very small, elliptical, compressed, furrowed, or striated on each side. The four - cleft calyx, spinous anthers, two - celled capsule, and furrowed or
 striated seeds will distinguish this from other genera in the same class and order ( Baxter ). Leaves  egg - shaped furrowed, sharply toothed.

Euphrasia officinalis is an annual plant. Flowers from June to September.
 The  root  is fibrous and whitish. The  stem  from one to six inches high,
 upright, square, leafy, downy, either simple or branched.  Leaves
 sessile, almost entirely opposite; small egg - shaped, downy; sightly
 ribbed and furrowed; serrated or indented teeth, pointed.  Flowers
 axillary, solitary, very abundant, inodorous, forming a leafy spike or
 raceme at the tops of the branches and stems.  Calyx  angular, hairy, four - toothed, teeth nearly equal, spear - shaped, pointed. The  corolla
 varies much in size, as well as colour, being commonly white, with deep
 purple streaks, and a yellowish palate.  Anthers  violet or brown, armed
 with two spines at the base.  Germen  a little hairy at the top.  Style
 pubescent on the upper part.  Stigma  fringed with very minute glands
 round the edge.  Capsule  four - cornered at the bottom, compressed above, slightly notched at the end, a little hairy towards the top, and marked with black dots.  Seeds  few, somewhat angular; thin at the edges, strongly striated or furrowed at the sides.
      "No gem can equal this brilliant and lasting ornament of the turf.
 When summer, with her gay companions, has divested the woods and fields; when the completion of the harvest has robbed the landscape of its richer features, the grassy downs are still glowing with the tufted Euphrasia, which, scattered around, yet reminds us, by its beautifully varied white, of snow, a chill though beneficial attendant of approaching winter. Its whiteness is tastefully varied with purple and pale yellow; as a hint which, though unwelcome, is kindly and delicately conveyed." [1]).

Constituents: Aluminum. Ascorbic acid. Aucubin. Beta-carotene. Caffeic
 acid. Calcium. Catalpol. Choline. Chromium. Cobalt. Ferulic acid. Fiber.
 Geniposide. Iron. Magnesium. Manganese. Niacin. Phosphorus. Potassium.
 Riboflavin. Selenium. Silicon. Thiamin. Tin. Zinc.

.Habitat: The plant is common in northern Europe and in
 England, and is found in the northern United States [2]. On heaths, downs, and on mountainous meadows, common. [1]

Drawing:  See Plate 115, Millspaugh’s American Medicinal Plants.