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The Healing Power of Elderflowers for Eye Ailments

The Healing Power of Elderflowers for Eye Ailments

For many years, my family of six children, their father and I, travelled the roads of Ireland with horses and wagons, goats, dogs and chickens. Whenever I saw a wild plant I did not recognise, I looked it up in one of my herb books. I realised we were living with medicinal herbs and wild nutritious foods all around us, and gradually learned how to use the plants to heal and feed ourselves and our animals.

One of the greatest of our wild medicines is the Elder tree.

Every part of the Elder is medicinal, from the roots, twigs, and bark, to the leaves, flowers and berries. The ancient people of many lands and traditions have recognised the Elder Tree as sacred, never to be burned.

The Elder Tree flowers in June, and is a lovely sight. The delicate creamy whorls have a rich sweet smell, unlike any other flower. They have anti-inflammatory properties, and are very useful for clearing the throat and sinuses of catarrh, but today I want to focus on their power to clear up eye problems, particularly conjunctivitis.

Elderflower brew cleared up conjunctivitis in my eyes in 24 hours, after a life time of getting it every year at least once, and quite badly, so that my eyes would be stuck shut with sticky catarrh, and be red, painful and swollen. As a child I was treated with antibiotics for conjunctivitis a number of times. When it re-occurred in Ireland, I looked for advice in my trusty Herbal Handbook for Everyone, by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. She advised bathing the eyes in elderflower infusion, several times a day, as well as drinking a cupful of the fragrant brew over the course of the day. I followed that advice, and the conjunctivitis cleared up in 24 hours. It re-occurred about a year later and after employing the same treatment, it healed up quickly and never came back again. I have had success with both fresh and dried elder flowers.

When my first baby girl was only two days old, she woke up with her eyes stuck together with catarrh. I was alarmed to see a small drop of blood mixed in the ooze. The district nurse told me not to worry, and gave me a tube of antibiotic cream to put on her eyes, but it was June and the elder trees were in full bloom, so I decided to try them before resorting to the antibiotic cream. I gently sponged over my baby’s eyes with a piece of white flannel soaked in the warm elderflower brew, and dripped a little of it right into her eyes. It did not cause her any distress, and her eyes cleared up completely within a day or two. I also drank the elder tea so that it would impart its healing properties into my milk.

Of course I would use the antibiotic cream if the elder flowers didn’t work quickly. I am not a fanatic, but will always prefer natural healing remedies where possible, as they do not produce any side effects. Plants are our relatives and harmonise with our bodies, in a way that drugs can not.

How to Make Elderflower Infusion for eyebaths.

Drink the warm brew to help expel catarrh.

Use freshly picked elder flowers if possible, or if they are not available, dried elderflowers produce equally good results.

Take two or three entire elder flowers, separate off the tiny white flowerets, discarding the stems, and place them in a glass, enamel, or stainless-steel pan. If using dried flowers, one handful will do.

Add a pint of good spring water, or filtered water, cover the pan, and heat very slowly. When it looks like it is about to simmer, (do not boil), turn the heat to as low as possible for another 10 minutes.

Then turn off the heat and steep the flowers in the warm water for a few hours with the lid on. Strain and use.

It will keep in the fridge for two or three days.

To use the infusion as an eyebath for sore eyes and conjunctivitis, soak a little clean white flannel or muslin in the warm brew and wipe gently over the eyes, allowing some to drip into your eyes. It is soothing, and will not sting.

If you have an eye-bath you can use that, or an egg cup works well as an eyebath. Put some of the brew in the eyebath, place over the eye, and with the eye open, tip the head back and allow the healing soothing brew to wash over
the eye.

Do this at least four times a day.
Also drink a few sips of the elderflower tea several times a day.


Discover Dixey Brooks Author, Illustrator, Artist 

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