Plants Are Our Allies: Ease Irritated Eyes With Flax Seed

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Susan has been writing for The Herb Companion since 1989; she also has written for Ogden Publications Herbs for Health and GRIT magazine. Susan lives an herbal lifestyle–she is a culinary herbalist and educator; and she cultivates, cooks, photographs, crafts, and creates medicinal and aromatherapeutic herbal products. Her favorite pastimes are reading, writing and observing the plants and traveling about sharing the titillating sensory experiences of herbs with like-minded individuals.

Sunday, my daughter Cady and I helped my husband, Tomaso, load and stack firewood for a few hours. I got wood dust in my eye, and when I woke up yesterday morning it felt scratched and very irritated, so I rinsed it 3 times with an eye cup and distilled water. It still didn’t feel better. Upon closer inspection, I saw I had something black stuck in the iris area of my eye. I tried getting it with my fingertip except it didn’t move. Then I tried a Q-tip, but it was definitely lodged–and that attempt made it hurt more. I decided to leave it alone.

It was just a speck, and yet it felt like a small log. I was trying to meet a deadline so I didn’t have time to find an eye doctor or go to the emergency room, even though more than one member of my family encouraged me to do so. Yesterday evening I decided I would have to go find a doctor and have it removed since it had bothered me all day. I figured I needed an eye doctor who could numb the eye and keep it open while they grabbed it with tweezers or whatever, but then my herbal co-author Tina Marie reminded me of the old folk remedy of putting a flax seed in your eye to remove floating particulates. I decided that it was worth a try.

Flax seeds can remove painful particulates from irritated eyes.
Photo by Jacqueline/Courtesy Flickr

Just before going to bed, I took a few little flax seeds and put them in an eye cup with warmed distilled water. I had a devil of a time trying to get one of those slippery little seeds on my fingertip and it was even harder to get it off of my finger and into my eyeball. I must have tried six or eight  maybe 10 times (mostly trying to place the seed in the tear duct corner of my eye). Everytime I thought I had gotten it in there it popped out and stuck to one of my eyelids or lashes. Finally I gave up on that route and took the eye cup with the 3 other little flax seeds floating in it and washed my eye. I did this at least a half dozen times before I got one to stick.

Then it felt like a log jam in there–and as the mucilaginous liquid spread over my eyeball it burned; not a bad burn- just like when your eyes tear up against any foreign substance. The gooey substance made the irritation and the place of puncture less sore almost right away.

This morning when I awoke I had crusty stuff around my eye. I went to the sink to wash it with warm water so I could see what was going on. Lo and behold–the particulate was gone–it had dislodged! I rinsed my eye once more with the eye cup and distilled water to make sure it wasn’t in there floating around.

I’m a believer. Once again, plants are our allies. No doctor’s office, eye-numbing experience or insurance claim, and my eye only feels slightly irritated right now, as compared to the constant pain of yesterday.

I love to win, and with just a tiny flax seed!

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