According to a Council for Responsible Nutrition 2015 Consumer Survey, roughly two-thirds of all Americans take at least one dietary supplement daily.
This is in the hopes of improving their overall health, increasing energy stores, and giving their body the fuel it needs to function optimally. Furthermore, this number is likely to rise as a majority of supplement users (66 percent) between the ages of 18 and 24 reported that their intake of these life-enhancing vitamins, minerals, and herbs will probably go up over the course of the next few years.
As a healthcare provider intent on helping patients achieve better health naturally, it only makes sense then that a number of your chiropractic patients will likely come to you seeking advice regarding which supplements will make them feel better.
And, while most people think of vitamins like A, B, and C when discussing supplemental considerations, there is another supplement that some are claiming to be extremely helpful in their journey to better health. It’s called euphrasia. So what exactly is it and why might your patients want to take it?
What is euphrasia?
“Euphrasia, perhaps more commonly known as ‘eyebright’, is a plant that is popular in homeopathic medicine due to its anti-inflammatory properties,” explains Samuel Malloy, medical director at DrFelix, an online doctor and pharmacy service based out of the UK. “The eyebright plant is native to Europe, but is found in particular abundance in the UK,” shares Malloy. “It is notoriously difficult to harvest and, due to its growing popularity, the demand is outweighing the supply. In fact, euphrasia is in danger of becoming an endangered species.”
How does euphrasia help?
Euphrasia is “most commonly used in the form of eye drops to treat eye conditions such as conjunctivitis,” says Malloy, adding that it is “the plant’s infection-fighting and fluid-drying abilities” that provide the most relief for this type of condition. Research confirms this, with one 2014 study published in the Balkan Medical Journal finding that euphrasia is best suited for eye disorders “associated with the ethanol and ethyl acetate extracts, not the heptane extrate.”
“In recent years, the benefits of using euphrasia to treat acute ear, nose and throat (ENT) ailments have also become apparent,” adds Malloy. That makes this particular supplement “a popular alternative to traditional medicine” when it comes to relieving the bothersome symptoms related to sinus problems, common colds, and some allergies, says Malloy.
Another condition euphrasia is said to help is hay fever.
“Sufferers of the pollen allergy have praised the use of euphrasia in offering relief for the ‘itchy’ eyes that are often experienced as part of the condition, as well as slowing down running noses and preventing sneezing,” says Malloy. It’s also used as “a natural alternative to over-the- counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or indomethacin,” says Malloy, thanks largely to its anti-inflammatory properties.
What makes euphrasia so powerful? “Euphrasia contains tannins,” explains Malloy, “which are known for their astringent properties – the ability to constrict or shrink certain tissue. They provide relief from mucus discharge by tightening the mucous membranes that line the nasal passage, sinuses, and respiratory system. There is also research to suggest that these astringent properties could aid the healing of scar tissue if euphrasia is applied topically to a wound or abrasion.”
How much euphrasia should a person take?
If your patient wants to take euphrasia for any of these types of conditions, “An adult dosage of euphrasia is said to be around 3 grams up to 3 times a day,” says Malloy. It can be taken orally in either tablet or liquid form, or it is also available in oils or eye drops. It’s “even sold dried in tea bags,” says Malloy.
Anyone who shouldn’t take it?
While Malloy stresses that individuals should always seek advice from their doctor before commencing new medication, “even if it is ‘only’ an herbal remedy, there are no warnings against taking euphrasia for any particular demographic,” says Malloy.
Additionally, Malloy says that allergic reactions to this supplement are rare, “but may occur.” Therefore, it’s important to warn patients that, “if skin rashes, breathing difficulties, or swelling of the lips or tongue occur after taking euphrasia, stop using it immediately and contact your doctor,” says Malloy.