How to Make an Herbal Eyewash

Try making an herbal eyewash next time you have an eye irritation. I purchased this little vintage ceramic eyecup a few months ago for doing eyewashes and just recently got the chance to use it. I love making up little batches of herbal eyewash for those mornings when you wake up with eyes that are red and crusty, inflamed, dry, or sore. There are a couple of different methods I use when making an herbal eyewash:

Herbal Eyewash for Conjunctivitis, Pink Eye, Itchy, Red, Inflamed Eyes

Method 1. Make a strong base of an herbal tea or infusion and add herbal tinctures into it to make your eyewash. A cooled tea of yarrow, horsetail, calendula, green tea, or chamomile makes a fantastic base for an eye formula. Our Vita-Min tea blend works well, too. 

Method 2. Make a saline solution and add your herbal tinctures into that. I make fresh homemade saline with one cup of boiled, filtered water to 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirred together so that the salt dissolves. Let that cool and then add in your herbal extracts.

Method 3. Use a premade saline solution or sterilized eye solution as your base and add your drops of herbal tinctures into that. You can also just use water if you don't have salt on hand (though it may irritate the eye more than saltwater will).

With any of these methods, it's best to use distilled, filtered, or sterilized and boiled water to eliminate any opportunity for bacteria to get into the eye area. 

There are a few herbs with affinities for and a long-standing tradition of addressing the eye area. Some of my favorite herbal extracts for eyewashes that we have in the shop are:

  • Chickweed (pictured below) for moistening and clearing
  • Calendula for overall health and as an anti-inflammatory (extract available by special request - order Lymph Love and in the notes at checkout state 'please bottle calendula only')
  • Plantain as a drawing, anti-inflammatory, and clarifying agent (extract available by special request - order Lung Support and in the notes at checkout state 'please bottle plantain only')
  • Goldenrod for drying and easing itch and redness (extract available by special request - order Breathe Light and in the notes at checkout state 'please bottle goldenrod only')
  • Ground ivy as a very traditional ally for a range of eye issues, including soreness and weakness
  • Yarrow as a catch-all for all of the reasons listed above
  • I’ve used a drop or so of echinacea, too. It's a little tingly but a very useful anti-infective.

Chickweed Fresh Herb Poultice for Eye Health

I simply add a few drops of these herbal tinctures (I was taught no more than 10-20 drops of total tinctures per oz) to one oz or two of boiled, distilled water, or saltwater, or straight saline solution (and let it cool if you did the boiled water, obviously). I have never had any issues with the very small amount of alcohol in the extracts irritating sensitive eyes. With any of these herbal allies, you want to be sure your herbal extracts or teas are well-strained of particulate matter which could further irritate the eye. 

Running low on herbal kitchen supplies? No problem. Kitchen cupboard resourcefulness to the rescue. In a pinch, I've also used a green tea bag (chamomile also works well) as a warm herbal eye compress. Simply make a cup of tea as you normally would, but when you take the tea bag out don't wring it out all the way: leave it a little soggy and apply it to your closed eye for a few minutes, allowing the tea to soak into your eye area as best you can. Got a cucumber? It's a cliche, but not one without its basis in truth. Even slices of cooling cucumber will do something to help draw inflammation out of the eye area - and you get a bonus spa moment.

Using Herbal Tea Bag Compress for Conjunctivitis, Pink Eye, Sore, Red, Itchy Eyes

Making a fresh herb poultice to address inflammation and support the eye area is a great option if you have any of these herbs growing around you: chickweed, plantain, calendula, or violet (all leaves or leaf/flower). Simply chop up or crush the fresh plant until it's moist and juicy enough to be clumped into a ball or paste and apply this to the eye area, covering it with a moist cloth if desired. 

Calendula Officinalis Flower Blossoms Herbs for Eye Health

Back to the herbal eyewashes made via the three main methods described above, if you're using a clean, sanitized dropper then simply drop the solution into the affected eye, blinking to help it fully absorb and reach everywhere. If using an eye cup like the one pictured, pour enough into your eye cup to fill it up halfway, hold it up to your eye (head down) to create a seal, then tip your head up and let the solution permeate your eye area, blinking and opening your eye, for 30 seconds to a minute. Use the mixture applied to the eyes 2-6 times daily until the desired outcome is achieved. 

Herbal Eyewash Cup for Inflamed and Sore Eyes

This does *wonders* for tender eyes and I have never had soreness or redness last for more than a day after using an herbal eyewash made with the herbs above.

Herbs for Eye Health and Optimal Vision

We get a lot of inquiries about herbs for overall eye health and optimal vision, and I'll summarize our typical recommendations below. This is not an all-encompassing deep dive whatsoever as eye health is a complex and nuanced issue. Lifestyle and diet (a deficiency in vitamin A leads to night-blindness, for example, and is relatively common) is all-important here, including everything from getting enough sleep to reducing your exposure to blue light and increasing your exposure to natural light to getting plenty of antioxidants in your food (especially blueberries).

Our favorite herbs to use internally to support an overall lifestyle and nutritional effort toward eye health are:

These are all herbs known to support healthy vision through their effects on the cardiovascular system and circulation, the blood, and the pineal gland, or because of their nutrient density. A well-rounded eye health formula might include any or all of the above depending on your constitution, your diet and lifestyle approaches, and the big picture of your overall health. 

Herbs for Eye Health

And don't forget what's perhaps the most important aspect of modern eye health: regulating your screen time and making sure to use your long-range vision so that it doesn't atrophy. Go outside and fix your eyes on a tree on the horizon or a natural element as far away as possible to strengthen your ocular muscles in this way. 


Erin King said:

I am looking for an eye wash for my 4 year old twins one of them gets sty’s quite often. I want to make something that I can pour in a container that lasts and put cotton pads in it to soak up so I can wipe their eyes out with it every morning. Any suggestions?

Heather at Red Moon Herbs said:

Carnette, I’m not familiar with using oils in the eye so would not feel comfortable using jojoba oil in that way, no. That’s not to say it can’t be done! But it’s not in my wheelhouse.

David, there is some anecdotal use of wormwood as an eyewash. While it’s not one I’m familiar with working with, you could experiment with it!

David said:

Is wormwood safe to use on the eye? I have an acute eye worm that we have to wait for insurance to pass. I have wormwood. Would that be safe as an eyewash?

Eileen said:

When you talk about adding tinctures to the saline base, are you talking about alcohol based tinctures?

Carnette said:

Can jojoba oil be used in a homemade eye wash?

Carnette said:

Can jojoba oil be used in a homemade eye wash?

Drenda L. said:

Where can I get dried comfrey leaves? I have conjunctivitis and blepharitis and have given up on eye specialists. I’ve seen 10 and no help. Can I use a drop or two of tea tree oil?

Seth J Hersh said:

Dried comfrey leaves make an excellent eye wash, too. Sometimes, after a macula degeneration injection, the eye becomes ‘bruised’. It’s uncomfortable for a few days if untreated. A comfrey wash will dissipate the soreness overnight.

Heather Wood Buzzard said:

You can make a strong tea (1-2 tsp, steeped for 10 mins with a lid on) as an herbal eyewash.

Avril Greene said:

I have a question.
Can you share instructions on how to make tentures? Thank you so much.

Deborah said:

I want to make an eye wash with Chamomile tea. What is the ratio of the herb and water?
Thank you

Denise said:

I have found your writings very interesting and if like to try some ideas out. I like the idea of herbal tinctures

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