HERBS FOR EYE HEALTH
See more clearly with these vision-boosting botanicals
HAVE YOU EVER MET ANYONE WHO HAD sharp, clear eyesight well into their older years? Why not you? Gradually losing your vision might not be inevitable.
Eyeglasses, contact lenses, and laser surgery are all tremendous technological advances, but they don’t heal the eyes and vision. In fact, the health of your eyes, like the fitness of any other part of the body, is closely associated with totalbody wellness. It’s easy to treat the eyes as separate “parts,” propping them up with helpful devices. But the eyes are connected to the circulatory system, an extension of the nervous system, and are made of membrane tissue linked to the entire body.
Herbalists talk about a liver/skin/ eye connection. The eyes, liver, and skin share similar nutritional requirements, and they all are prone to damage from inflammation. The holistic view is that eye disease is caused, at least in part, by oxidative damage, toxic buildup, and decreased circulation to the eyes. Remedies with antioxidant, circulation, or detoxification properties will directly or indirectly benefit the eyes.
Bilberry, a blue-black berry from Europe, is a cousin of the American blueberry. Its extract contains potent antioxidants that prevent free-radical damage to cells and capillaries that can weaken their membranes. The result is stronger, more flexible capillary and cell walls. It strengthens retinal connective tissue and reduces both the leakiness and fragility of the ocular blood vessels, making it ideal for treating macular degeneration.
Bilberry is especially noted for improving night vision. It also helps to prevent degenerative eye disease and increase function of the color-sensing cones of the eye, improving the brightness of the image being viewed and increasing visual acuity. In 2013, a study examined the eyes of 30 healthy middle-aged volunteers with myopia (nearsightedness). Bilberry extract produced significant improvement.
Many people take bilberry extract, standardized to contain 25% anthocyanosides, at doses of 60–120 mg daily, or up to 240–480 mg per day, to manage active eye conditions. Bilberry is just a species of European blueberry, though, so its constituents are very similar to blueberry. The consensus among modern holistic practitioners is that blueberries—and the entire blueberry family, which includes huckleberry and cranberry—work just as well as bilberry. And blueberries are more widely available, and less expensive, than European standardized extracts of bilberry.
Calendula Tea and Leafy Greens
Lutein and zeaxanthin, key nutrients for eye health, are found in calendula tea (made from pot marigold petals). Lutein is also found in dark-green leafy vegetables (think spinach). Blind spots, the