Much of modern medicine tends to isolate sight from the rest of the body however the health of the eyes reflects the state of the whole body. Persistent problems in these organs often relate to other system disorders such as glue ear in children relates to milk allergies and recurrent cold sores are linked to tiredness stress and rundown immune system. The first symptoms for any inflammatory diseases often begin in the eyes so while a topical remedy may bring some relief you always need to look at what is going on in the body overall.
In Chinese medicine eye problems are related to liver imbalance. Hearing difficulties and tinnitus may imply kidney weakness and persistent mouth problems, or sore lips may indicate excess heat in the spleen. herbal medicines they are ideal as they offer symptomatic relief as well as tackling the underlying cause. Changes in diet or lifestyle are a crucial feature of the cure.
Tired strained eyes for example can be soothed by applying tea bags such as peppermint (To refresh) Chamomile (to calm and relax) Calendula (To help with infection in addition to treatment for infection) or Eyebright to bring down inflammation but better lighting levels and frequent breaks from VDU screens along with better sleep may be the only real solution.
Oxidative stress and inflammation can contribute to the development of eye diseases so the use of herbs that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may benefit overall eye health.
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus): Bilberry is known as a remedy for improving eyesight which can be attributed in part to the anthocyanosides (condensed tannins), the main phenolic constituents which have well-established antioxidant activity. Bilberry may be helpful for :Diabetic or hypertensive retinopathy,macular degeneration,eyestrain,night Blindness, glaucoma,capillary fragility.
Other areas of health that Bilberry may be helpful for are :
- Bleeding gums
- Varicose veins
- Venous insufficiency (especially during pregnancy)
- To promote healing (especially after surgery)
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis): As its common name suggests eyebright has been used for centuries to treat eye complaints including irritation, inflammation, dry eye,disturbed vision, eye fatigue, styes and conjunctivitis.
Eyebright may also be helpful for:
- Chronic Sinusitis
- Middle ear infection
- Blepharitis (Eyelid inflammation)
- Catarrhal deafness
- Sinus headache
- The common cold
- Acute sinusitis
- Asthma (with sinusitis)
NOTE: If there is conjunctivitis or any Infection I would add a herb called GOLDEN SEAL that may aid infection and strengthen the mucosal linings of the eye or MARIGOLD (Calendula)
CAUTION: Do not apply herbal tinctures or extracts directly to the eye
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba): Some early research shows that supplementing with ginkgo may increase blood flow to the eyes. In a study on 103 people with normal tension glaucoma, ginkgo improved visual function in some patients. Macular degeneration , Impaired retinal Blood Flow.
Ginkgo is also helpful for:
- Alzheimer's disease
- Vascular dementia (prevention and treatment)
- Impaired periferal circulation
- Raynaud's syndrome
- Dizziness (of a vascular origin)
- Asthma (anti-PAF)
Improves concentration,memory (short term) and or cognitive performance.It may also be helpful for tinnitus, Idiopathic hearing loss. Stroke of recent onset (for recovery) Painful menstruation & menstrual cramping and altitude sickness
CAUTION: Please discuss risks with your Medical professional if taking anticoagulant drugs
Green Tea (Camellia sinensis): Antioxidants found in green tea may reduce the oxidative stress that can be associated with some eye diseases.
Green tea may also be helpful for:
- Cancer prevention
- Altzheimer's disease
- Cardiovascular disease,
- Balancing bowel flora
- Weight loss assistance
- Adjunctive treatment for Cancer
- To slow the aging process
Apart from the 5 herbs above if you suffer from Eye twitching then it is a symptom of a need for more Magnesium
Marigold Calendula officinalis may be helpful for eye inflammation, infection and itchiness caused by conjunctivitis.
Marigold may also be beneficial for:
- Eczema and dermatitis
- Pain, swelling and redness caused from muscle cramps
- Muscular injuries or sprains
- Fungal infections including athlete’s foot, candida, ear infections and ringworm.
- Peptic Ulcers
- Enlarged Lymph Glands
- Sebaceous cysts
- Spasmodic menstruation
- Mouth Ulcers
- Herpies simplex lesions
- Dermatitis (eczema)
- Varicose ulcers
- Bed sores
- Minor Burns
- inflamed skin
- Nappy rash
- Varicose veins
- Insect Bites
CAUTION: Do not apply herbal tinctures or extracts directly to the eye. Also contra-indicated in known allergy to calendula.
As far as the eyes go and for your general health, magnesium can act as somewhat of a muscle relaxer. Increasing magnesium intake can help with the following ocular conditions:
- Eye twitching
- Blepharospasm (advanced eye twitch)
Article for Herbal Extracts P/L by Christine Thomas, Herbalist and Technical Writer, July 2021
The Ultimate Herbal Compendium written by herbalist Kerry Bone