And the allergy season is upon us! Seasonal allergies definitely throw us for a loop around here – and we need a solution to soothe eyes STAT! Whether irritated from pollen, cedar, or baby bunny fur (a story for another time ;), Mother Nature is here to help.
An easy, homemade natural remedy can be a saving grace to soothe eyes, and often works better than over-the-counter and prescription eye drops…
And believe you me, I have tried them AWwwwLlll, honeychile.
I can barely wear contact lenses during those prime weeks of Spring and Fall when allergens are at their peak. Mighty O seems to be prone to this kind of hay fever as well, so we need all the help we can get this time of year.
I’ve found a balancing approach works best on my own eyes – applying cooling, calming solutions to hot, red, irritated eyes feels so nice. Of course, any persistent or serious issue may require medical attention, so always use your own best judgement with herbal remedies.
It’s easy to make a two-for-one solution that produces an herbal poultice to soothe eyes directly, and also a natural eyewash – which is a lot easier to deal with when eyes are extra irritated. Plus, an eyewash is great for young ones, who often can’t (won’t) tolerate drops.
I just take about a quarter cup of dried chamomile flowers from my organic herb and tea collection, and place it into a muslin bag, then pop the bag into a pot of water over low heat, making sure to press it a few times to soak the flowers.
After 5 or 10 minutes, or even just placed into near-boiling water to steep like tea, the essence of the flowers is infused in the water, and the poultice can be removed and cooled on a small dish. Once cooled to a bearable, yet still warm, temperature, place the bag across sore eyes for 10-15 minutes.
After removing the poultice, it takes about 30 minutes or so to see improvement. Eyes will be much more clear, and pain and itching should be gone.
Continue this a few times over the course of the day, including a few rounds of the eyewash, to which I add about a teaspoon of raw honey for antibacterial effects. This treatment has traditionally been to soothe eyes bothered by conjunctivitis / eye infection as well as allergies, so it never hurts to amp up the naturally healing, antiseptic properties of the solution.
Instructions for Herbal Eyewash & Poultice
- Fill a small muslin bag with chamomile flowers (or alternatively, use pre-made chamomile tea bags).
- Add distilled or spring water to a small pot and steep over low heat for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove poultice and gently squeeze excess water from bag(s). Place on a clean dish and cool to a warm – not hot – temperature. Place poultice across eyes and rest 10-15 minutes.
- While herbal solution is still warm in the pot, stir in 1-2 teaspoons raw honey until dissolved.
- After cooling, strain water/tea solution through two layers of coffee filters or a few layers of clean cheesecloth to filter out any particles into a clean (or better yet, sterilized) jar.
- Flush eyes by pouring solution sideways across eyes, into a sink or basin. Dry with a clean cloth.
It’s worth noting, chamomile is in the ragweed family – so you may want to try a different natural solution if that tends to bother you. Many other herbal and natural poultices are also effective in treating eye irritation or infection, such as with eyebright, turmeric, salt, or even yogurt, to name a few. On my high school swim team back in the day, whole milk was the first choice eyewash for irritation and redness, and it was much more soothing than commercial eye drops.
There are so many natural solutions provided by Mother Nature to soothe eyes due to hay fever or conjunctivis, so if one doesn’t work, move on to another… and consider the qualities of the irritation for how it may best be treated. The homeopathic and Ayurvedic traditions are great resources that I like to draw from when working with natural remedies. Send me a note if that’s something you’d like to learn more about!
What other old fashioned remedies have worked for you? Would love to hear your experiences and simple, natural solutions!
Love and light,