Euphrasia sp. / Ogentroost

OGENTROOST
Euphrasia officinalis

Namen: Adhib, ambrosia, augentrost, Augentrostkraut (German), Augstenzieger, briselunettes (French), casse-lunette (French), clary, clary wort, clear eye, eufragia, eufrasia (Italian), Euphraise, Euphraisiaeherba, Euphraisiae herbal (eyebright herb), Euphrasia, Euphrasia mollis, Euphrasia officinalis, Euphrasia rostkoviana, Euphrasia sibirica, euphrasy, ewfras, frasia, herbed euphraise, herbe d'euphraise officinale, hirnkraut, laegeojentrost (Danish), luminella, meadow eyebright, muscatel sage, red eyebright, sage, salvia sclarea, schabab, Scrophulariaceae (family), see bright, Weisses Ruhrkraut, Wiesenaugetrost, Zwang-kraut. 

Zeldzaam zijn ze wel, de frêle ogentroostjes. Tenminste in onze lage landen, want in de hoge Alpenweiden zie ik ze in de zomer met duizenden tussen het gras door piepen. 
Het is zeker ook niet zó, dat ogentroost 'alle voorkomende oogkwalen en gezichtsverlies zou genezen', zoals Matthiolus lang geleden stelde; bij cataract of blindheid heeft dit plantje natuurlijk geen effect en we moeten dan ook ten zeerste betwijfelen of een veelvuldig gebruik ervan 'de verkoop van brillen met 50% zou doen afnemen' zoals ooit wel beweerd werd.

Toch blijft het merkwaardig dat zo'n onooglijk plantje, als ik dat zo mag noemen, door de eeuwen altijd en overal met de ogen geassocieerd werd. Ook Dodoens kon niet om zijn wonderbaarlijke werking op de ogen heen. Hij schrijft 'Ooghentroost ghestooten en op die ooghen gheleyt oft sap daer af met wijn uutgheperst in die ooghen ghedruypt neemt wech ende gheneest die donckerheyt van den ooghen ende maeckt claer ghesichte.
Toch beschrijft hij een minder bekend gebruik van ogentroost, namelijk voor het geheugen 'stercket oock die memorie seer/ ende doet sterckelijck onthouwen. En dat is een werking die wij nu wel zouden kunnen gebruiken.

Toch heeft dit lieve miniplantje zijn naam niet gestolen. Recentere onderzoeken hebben ontstekingswerende stoffen gevonden, die mogelijk gunstig kunnen werken bij conjunctivitis, tranen der ogen, lichte oogontstekingen. De wetenschappelijke bewijzen zijn helaas nog niet overtuigend genoeg, maar de vele succesvolle ervaringen zijn dat des te meer.
Andere wetenschappelijke onderzoeken vermelden ook een bloedsuikerverlagende en een anti-inflammatoire werking.

Er zijn nog andere indicaties waarbij ogentroost gebruikt kan worden: in bepaalde streken wordt er een hoestmiddeltje van gemaakt; de Ameri­kanen gebruiken hem bij hoofdverkoudheid; Kneipp raadt ogentroost aan als een goed maagmiddel, omdat hij de spijsvertering bevordert en de maagsappen stimuleert.  In de homeopathie wordt Euphrasia voorgeschreven bij hoofdverkoudheid, catarre van ogen en neus en bij conjunctivitis, als 'het tranen irritant is en de neus loopt'. 

Ogentroost, zijn wetenschappelijke naam Euphrasia komt van het Griekse euphrainoo, ik verheug mij en een van de drie Griekse gratiën heette Euphrosyne.  Andere namen zijn ocularia, red eyebright, meadow eyebright, casse-lunettes, laegeojentrost (Deens)) en luminella, zoals je leest allemaal verwijzend naar zijn werking op de ogen.

Het plantje is een halfparasiet, hij groeit op zonnige weiden, op open plekken in het bos, op schrale en grazige gronden. De bruinachtige, sterk vertakte en harige stengels worden 5-30 cm hoog. De blaadjes - twee aan twee - zijn ovaal puntig, gekarteld en harig. De bloempjes die een soort trosjes vormen, zijn klein, bleekblauw of wit; de bovenlip heeft de vorm van een soort helmpje en de onderlip is verdeeld in drie lobben. Aan de basis hiervan bevindt zich een geel vlekje dat naar het midden toe donkerder is, waardoor het aan een oog doet denken. Door deze overeenkomst is het volgens de signatuurleer duidelijk dat deze plant speciaal voor de ogen goed zou zijn.

Voor verder onderzoek
  • Ersoz T, Berkman MZ, Tasdemir D, et al. An iridoid glucoside from Euphrasia pectinata. J Nat Prod 2000;63(10):1449-1450. View Abstract
  • Hattori M, Kawata Y, Inoue K, et al. Transformation of aucubin to new pyridine monoterpene alkaloids, aucubinines A and B, by human intestinal bacteria. Phytother Res 1990;4(2):66-70.
  • Lee DH, Cho IG, Park MS, et al. Studies on the possible mechanisms of protective activity against alpha- amanitin poisoning by aucubin. Arch Pharm Res 2001;24(1):55-63. 
  • Mokkapatti R. An experimental double-blind study to evaluate the use of Euphrasia in preventing conjunctivitis. Brit Homoeopath J 1992;1(81):22-24.
  • Porchezhian E, Ansari SH, Shreedharan NK. Antihyperglycemic activity of Euphrasia officinale leaves. Fitoterapia 2000;71(5):522-526. 
  • Recio MC, Giner RM, Manez S, et al. Structural considerations on the iridoids as anti-inflammatory agents. Planta Med 1994;60(3):232-234.
  • Salama O, Sticher O. Iridoid glucosides from Euphrasia rostkoviana. Part 4. Glycosides from Euphrasia species. Planta Med 1983;47:90-94. 
  • Stoss M, Michels C, Peter E, et al. Prospective cohort trial of Euphrasia single-dose eye drops in conjunctivitis. J Altern Complement Med 2000;6(6):499-508. 

Ersoz T, Berkman MZ, Tasdemir D, et al. An iridoid glucoside from Euphrasia pectinata. J Nat Prod 2000;63(10):1449-1450. View Abstract
Hattori M, Kawata Y, Inoue K, et al. Transformation of aucubin to new pyridine monoterpene alkaloids, aucubinines A and B, by human intestinal bacteria. Phytother Res 1990;4(2):66-70.
Lee DH, Cho IG, Park MS, et al. Studies on the possible mechanisms of protective activity against alpha- amanitin poisoning by aucubin. Arch Pharm Res 2001;24(1):55-63. View Abstract
Mokkapatti R. An experimental double-blind study to evaluate the use of Euphrasia in preventing conjunctivitis. Brit Homoeopath J 1992;1(81):22-24.
Porchezhian E, Ansari SH, Shreedharan NK. Antihyperglycemic activity of Euphrasia officinale leaves. Fitoterapia 2000;71(5):522-526. View Abstract
Recio MC, Giner RM, Manez S, et al. Structural considerations on the iridoids as anti-inflammatory agents. Planta Med 1994;60(3):232-234. View Abstract
Salama O, Sticher O. Iridoid glucosides from Euphrasia rostkoviana. Part 4. Glycosides from Euphrasia species. Planta Med 1983;47:90-94. View Abstract
Stoss M, Michels C, Peter E, et al. Prospective cohort trial of Euphrasia single-dose eye drops in conjunctivitis. J Altern Complement Med 2000;6(6):499-508. View Abstract
Eyebright is high in iridoid glycosides such as aucubin. In several laboratory studies, this constituent has been found to possess hepatoprotective (liver protecting) and antimicrobial activity. There is limited clinical research assessing the efficacy of eyebright in the treatment of conjunctivitis (pink eye), and the use of eyebright for other indications has not been studied in clinical trials. 



Eyebright
Meadow Eyebright
Red Eyebright

Found in the pastures of Europe, the plant known as the eyebright of the Euphrasia genera of plants, is a hardy and small annual plant native to Europe, it is characterized by the presence of deeply cut leaves. The eyebright grows abundantly in the heaths and the pastures of European countries such as Britain, it is also found throughout much of the European continent, and some populations of the plant can also be found in the sub-arctic regions of the North American continent. The eyebright - Euphrasia is hemi parasitic and in this it resembles plants found in several general of the plant family Scrophulariaceae all of which are characterized by this hemi parasitic feature in the root system. In these plants, food gathering nodules are found on the roots, these nodules are attached to the roots of any plant nearby in order to parasitize food materials from neighboring plants. Due to this hemi-parasitic mode of life, cultivation of the eyebright is very hard to accomplish, the wild populations of the plant are the virtual source for the entire supply of eyebright used in herbal remedies - and the plant is collected with very little regard to the difference between species. The time for floral blooming of the eyebright is between the months of July to September, the plant bears many small flowers during this time, these are white or purplish in color and at times variegated with a yellowish tinge. The flowers resemble bloodshot human eyes due to the presence of the various spots and stripes on the surface of the flowers - giving the herb its name. This peculiar appearance of the flowers is one of the reasons, that the herb was used in the treatment of eye afflictions since the middle Ages in Europe.

To treat conjunctivitis and other eye problems, an herbal lotion or whole plant infusion made from the aerial part of the eyebright is normally prescribed by most herbalists to their patients. Traditionally, the same infusion was consumed and many ancient writers on herbs, like Culpeper and Parkinson, suggested the drinking of such herbal infusions for the treatment of eye afflictions in patients. Many places in Europe still use the eyebright for the treatment of such eye problems in their folk medicine, this practice is prevalent especially in the Eastern European countries, in these countries both the topical as well as the internal remedy made from the eyebright herb is used in the treatment of disorders such as blepharitis and conjunctivitis. The folk medicine in these places also lays stress on the use of an eyebright poultice for direct topical treatment of styes in the eye and in the treatment of eye fatigue in patients. A number of plant based organic compounds have been identified during chemical studies carried out on the eyebright herb. The herb has been analyzed and found to contain chemicals such as the aucubin, the organic compounds caffeic and ferulic acids, various plant based sterols, compounds such as choline, a variety of basic organic compounds, and a plant based volatile oil unique to the eyebright. There have been no conclusive scientific tests which can prove that the eyebright is effective in treating eye disorders, and at the same time, no useful therapeutic properties or effective healing powers have been detected in these compounds. Some bactericidal activity seems to be present in the compounds called the phenol-carboxylic acids, found in the eyebright herb. A potential risk for infection and complication exist when using home made herbal products which are not sterilized on the eyes, and such practices are not advocated and cannot be condoned as it can lead to serious complications for the person. The danger increase of a large number of unknown principles of dubious safety and healing efficacy are contained in the unsterilized home made herbal lotion. The risk is also from many modern herbalists, who often suggest the ophthalmic use of such non-sterilized remedies and these remedies are strictly not recommended for potential patients as the complications are many. Our knowledge of the herb is as limited as it was during Culpeper's time, and the properties of this herb still require extensive investigations in a modern setting.

PARTS USED
Aerial parts.

USES
During disorders such as conjunctivitis and blepharitis of the eyes, the eyebright seems to be able to reduce inflammation in the eyes due to its ability in tightening the mucous membranes around the eyes. For this reason, the herbal remedies made from the eyebright are often used in the treatment of infectious and allergic reactions affecting the eye as its ability to counter the mucus accumulations enables it to help in reducing inflammation. The remedies made from the eyebright are used in the treatment of conditions affecting the eyes, problems affecting the middle ear, disorders in the sinuses, and in treating mucous accumulations in the nasal passages of patients. Caution is advised when using the eyebright herb in the treatment of dry and stuffy congestions, even though the eyebright is capable of alleviating liquid mucous, the astringent quality of the herb can often worsen dry or stuffy disorders in the inflamed tissues.

HABITAT AND CULTIVATION
Open grasslands and meadows are the areas where the herb is commonly found in Europe. Summer is the usual time during which theharvesting of the eyebright for commercial uses is carried out, as the plant flowers during this season.

CONSTITUENTS
Eyebright contains iridoid glycosides, tannins, phenolic acids, volatile oils, alkaloids, sterols.

USUAL DOSAGE
Dosage regimens for the herbal remedies made from the eyebright differ for one disorder to the other. Herbal compress made from a tablespoon of the dried herb boiled for ten minutes in 0.5 liter of wateris normally recommended by traditional herbal medicine textbooks. A compress can also be made from the cooled and undiluted herbal liquid for use as a topical healing agent. The anti-microbial herbs such as the goldenseal in infusion form are often combined with this herbal eyebright liquid in forming compresses. Due to the chances of bacterial contamination, this application of the eyebright remedy is not currently supported by the German herbal monograph as the chances of infection are large. Dosage of the herbal eyebright tea made for consumption can be taken at doses of two to three cups every day during the treatment period, this herbal tea is prepared in a similar manner to the herbal infusion mentioned above. Dosage of 2-4 grams of the dried herb is also given to patients; this can be taken thrice every day, during the treatment period. The usual dosage regimen for the herbal eyebright tincture is a single dose of 2-6 ml taken thrice every day of the treatment period.

SIDE EFFECTS AND CAUTIONS
It is suggested to patients, that they avoid using the traditional eyebright compress, as till date, the information on the active ingredients within the eyebright and issues of sterility in those contained organic substances are still limited and the safety of the herbal remedy as a topical treatment for the eyes is not clear. Safety is not a big issues as far as consumption is concerned, and the eyebright remedy can be safely used and taken internally in the doses given previously - the herbal remedy has few or limited side effects. At the same time, women who are lactating and those in a term of pregnancy must avoid using the herbal remedy as the long term safety issues with such patients has still not been checked.

HOW IT WORKS IN THE BODY
Inflammation in the tissues of the eye is reduced because of the strongly astringent qualities that the eyebright possesses, the herbal remedy acts as a strong and protective barrier over the affected mucous membranes of the eyes and enables a quick recovery from irritation and inflammation due to infection. The infections such as the conjunctivitis are easily beaten back precisely due to the presence of such properties in the herb. The herbal eyebright remedies due to their strong protective action over the eyes are also effective in treating some other types of disorders affecting the eyes, such as an allergic condition causing inflammation, they can also be used to alleviate streaming or irritation in the eyes caused by seasonal disorders such as hay fever, the adverse effects of pollution can also be countered by the eyebright remedy.

APPLICATIONS
As an all purpose eye disorder herbal cure, the herbal remedies made from the eyebright are really the most effective herbal remedies around and the plant is famous for inducing a soothing effect and in enabling the quick recovery of the person from disorders affecting the eyes. The herbal remedies made from the eyebright have been used in the treatment of conjunctivitis, in the treatment of glaucoma - rise of pressure in the eyeball, in the treatment of keratitis and iritis which affect different tissue layers in the eye. The cooled herbal eyebright decoction can be used as an eye wash to wash infected eyes and enable rapid reduction in inflammation, this decoction can be prepared by using a tbsp or 5 g of the fresh or dried plant, and boil this in a cup - 250 ml of water for a period of 5 minutes, once the herb has been steeped in the liquid, strain the solution and use in the form of a compress for the eyes as and when needed. The decoction can be used for dipping the compresses which must be applied repeatedly to the eyes. The cooled decoction can also be used to directly rinse the eyes, use about 1 tbsp or 15 ml of the decoction for a single rinse - repeat as many times as needed. Disorders can also be treated by consuming the eyebright decoction, prepare the herbal eyebright decoction for internal use by mixing three whole fresh plants in a cup - 250 ml of water and boil as before, if the fresh herb is not available, use a tbsp of dried herb and boil this in a cup - 250 ml of water - once boiled, allow the herb to steep into the water, strain the liquid and drink as required. The herbal remedies made from the eyebright have also been used in the treatment of disorders such as the diarrhea, in the treatment of sinusitis and in treating the seasonal allergies, some of which come with symptoms such as painful nasal and ocular discharges - in all these cases, eyebright is used as an internal herbal remedy.

OPHTHALMIC SOLUTION
1 1/2 (2 g) fresh or dried eyebright
1 cup (250 ml) spirits (gin, brandy)
In a mixing bowl, shred the plant in the alcohol. Put the mixture in a jar, shake every 2 or 3 days. Strain after 1 month.
Use as an eyewash at a rate of 30 drops in 1 cup (250 ml) boiled water. Used internally, this solution soothes seasonal allergies, catarrhs, and the common cold.

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