Ask the Bartender, Ask the Plants, Ask Karoline #65

    I hate going to the doctor’s office...consequently, I have spent the last few years trying to learn how to cure myself herbally when minor ailments arise.  Recently (for example) I found myself dealing with eyes full of pus and mucus.  YEEECH.  I was pretty concerned until I grabbed my copy of Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James and Phyllis Balch  and found that there was actually a section specifically for dealing with mucus in the eyes.  With much relief I embarked on the following treatment and those disgusting, never-ending streams of snot pouring out of my eyes cleared up in two short days.  Hopefully you, dear reader, will never experience this icky malady...but give this a whirl if you do.
A Little Background...
    A number of different conditions can cause mucus to accumulate in the eyes, such as allergies, head colds, and infection (conjunctivitis).  Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the eyelid and wraps around to cover most of the white of the eye.  Eyes may appear swollen/bloodshot and are often itchy/irritated.  The infected membrane is often filled with pus and the eyelids are prone to stick together after being closed for even a short while and especially after an extended period.  Contributing factors include bacterial infection, injury to the eye, allergies, and irritants like fumes, smoke, contact lens solutions, pool chlorine, chemicals, eye makeup and any other foreign substance that enters the eye.  Conjunctivitis is highly contagious if caused by viral infection.
The Herbs...
    Eyebright (Euphrasia Officianalis).  This is good for any eye irritation or inflammation.  Take orally in tincture or tea form.  Tea can also be used to rinse (cool) the eyes and as a compress (warm/hot) to soothe the swollen eyelids.  Also excellent for allergy sufferers as well, especially when combined in a tea with nettle and taken daily.
    Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis).  A natural antibiotic and a greatly over harvested plant...do not use this carelessly.  Treat this with the respect you would an antibiotic and use only when needed.  Do not take internally on a daily basis for more than a week at a time and DO NOT USE DURING PREGNANCY.  Use with caution if you are allergic to ragweed.
Steep, Rinse and Press...
    Make a tea with the eyebright and let it steep...I found a small handful of the herb steeped in hot (not boiling) water for 15 minutes and then left to cool slightly for a few minutes worked the best for me.  You want the compress temperature to be quite warm because many of the microorganisms involved with eye ailments cannot tolerate heat.
    While the tea is steeping, bust out the ALCOHOL FREE tincture of goldenseal and carefully wash each eye with the diluted extract.  This should bring an almost immediate sense of relief.  Be very gentle during the rinsing...your eye is already highly irritated, so do this slowly and thoroughly.  Have a towel ready to pat the surrounding eye area dry.
    Your tea should be about ready by now, and should be comfortably warm.  Soak a clean cloth in the tea to make the compress.  Apply the compress and relax for a few minutes.  Repeat with a fresh compress.  Use each compress only once before washing or discarding it.  I wound up doing the this three step process three to four times a day for two days.  If you’re experiencing pain or blurred vision, seek medical attention ASAP.  If you don’t see improvement in 3 to 4 days, seek medical attention. 
Communication...
    I’m not an herbalist, although I am studying herbal medicine with a few amazing teachers in the bay area.  I frequently find myself devouring books by such people as Susun Weed, Michael Moore, Rosemary Gladstar and Judith Berger...inspirational herbalists.  Also, check out the aforementioned Prescription for Nutritional Healing, every home should have a copy of this!  Should you have any desire to talk about herbs or punk rock or traveling, please get in touch with me...karoline