Natural Treatment for Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis): Acupuncture, Herbs, and Supplements
Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammatory disease of the conjunctiva. Conjunctiva is the clear, thin, and moist membrane that provides protection and lubrication to the eye by producing enough tears and mucus. It prevents microbial and foreign objects entrance into the eye and plays a role in immune system surveillance. This membrane coats the inner surface of the eyelids (palpebral conjunctiva) and the outer surface of the eye (ocular or bulbar conjunctiva).
During the inflammation period, the small blood vessels that are inflamed become more visible, giving the eye a recognizable reddish or pink color. Pink eye is caused by a viral or bacterial infection; it can be a part of an allergic reaction, or in babies, an incompletely opened tear duct. This disease can be highly contagious, so early diagnosis and treatment are crucial in limiting its spread. It can occur in one or both eyes and is the most common eye infection in children and adults. Between 3 and 6 million people have pink eye symptoms in the U.S. each year.
Treatment for pink eye (conjunctivitis) should be safe and appropriate, and besides antibiotics (if the cause is bacterial), there are also some alternative options available, like acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and nutritional supplements.
Alternative Treatments for (Conjunctivitis) Pink Eye: Makari Wellness is the Solution
Being a leading acupuncture clinic in San Diego and the Oceanside area, our highly efficient and individualized treatments help our patients as 85% of them experienced an improvement in their vision, so there is hope for those who may have given up. No matter where you are in your eye health journey, we are here to help you and offer support.
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What Causes Pink Eye?
The reddish or pink color of the eye happens when the blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed and, consequently, more visible. The inflammation can be caused by:
- Viruses: The most common causes of pink eye. Some of the most common viruses that cause viral conjunctivitis are Adenoviruses, Rubella virus, Rubeola virus, Herpesviruses, and Picornaviruses. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious, so you should avoid hand-to-eye contact.
- Bacteria: Most common bacterial pink eyes are caused by Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Haemophilus, and Moraxella bacterial species. This type of pink eye may produce a lot of mucus and pus.
- Allergens: You may also have a runny and itchy nose, together with tearing, redness, and itching in both eyes. It can result from an allergic reaction to pollen, mold, animal hair, dust, or something else in the environment.
- Irritants: Irritating substances can cause pink eye; some of them are cosmetics, smoke, dirt, shampoos, contact lenses, and especially pool chlorine.
- Foreign objects in the eye: Particles that lodge on the conjunctival surface can cause corneal abrasions and conjunctivitis (pink eye).
- Blocked tear duct: This usually happens in newborns.
Symptoms of Pink Eye
Most common symptoms include:
- Increased tearing
- Redness in the eyeballs
- Thick yellow discharge, especially after sleep
- Blurred vision
- Gritty feeling in eyes
- Swollen eyelids
- Increased light sensitivity
- Burning and itchy eyes
- Painful eyes
How Do You Get Pink Eye?
Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye) is highly contagious, while those caused by allergies, irritants, and foreign objects in the eye are not. The most common ways of getting pink eye include:
- Direct contact with the body fluids of an infected individual, commonly by hand-to-eye contact.
- The infection is spread by germs found in the person’s own nose and sinuses.
- Not properly cleaning contact lenses. Contact lenses that are ill-fitting or ornamental pose a risk as well.
Is Pink Eye Contagious?
We already mentioned that bacterial and viral types of pink eye are very contagious, so do whatever it takes to prevent the spread. Allergic, foreign objects, and pink eye caused by irritants are not contagious.
How Long Is Pink Eye Contagious?
The following is a general guide on when it is safe to return to school or work:
- After 24 hours of antibiotic therapy for bacterial pink eye.
- After 2 days to a week for viral pink eye.
- For allergic pink eye, you do not need to stay home.
How Long Does Pink Eye Last?
It depends on the type of conjunctivitis you have, but it usually goes away within 1-2 weeks. If the symptoms last longer, you should visit your ophthalmologist and make sure you do not have a more serious eye condition.
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How to Treat Pink Eye?
Again, it depends on the conjunctivitis type you have. There is no specific treatment for a viral pink eye as your body needs to fight the virus on its own. For bacterial infection, the ophthalmologist will prescribe antibiotic eye drops, depending on how severe your bacterial pink eye is. For allergic pink eye, you can use drops that contain antihistamines that control allergic reactions or some other anti-inflammatory drugs like decongestants or steroids.
Alternative Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis) Treatment
The pathogenic variables Wind and Heat, which are the primary elements that induce inflammation, are attributed to acute conjunctivitis in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). An acute disease will develop into chronic conjunctivitis if these pathogenic elements are not removed from the body and grow excessive. Overindulgence in alcoholic beverages, deep-fried or spicy foods, misuse of the eyes, exposure to wind, bad lighting, insufficient sleep, and poor cleanliness are common causes.
According to TCM, the aim is to disperse and drain the Wind and Heat pathogenic factors from the body in order to reduce inflammation and relieve itching. A soothing effect on the meridians leading to the affected areas is necessary to promote healing. Make sure your hands are always clean by washing them with soap and water. Besides temporarily soothing the itching and discomfort of acute conjunctivitis, an optical saline solution can also ease the itching and discomfort of conjunctivitis under medical supervision.
Acupuncture for Pink Eye
Can acupuncture treat pink eye? The answer is: Yes.
The treatment principle in TCM is to disperse Wind-Heat, clear off Fire, and brighten the eyes. Some of the most important acupuncture points for pink eye are:
- GB20 – disperses Wind-Heat, and clears off the Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder.
- UB1 – disperse the locally accumulated heat.
- SJ5 – is used to clear Wind-Heat away from the head and eyes.
- LI4 and LI11 – clear Heat and Fire.
- LI2 and GB43 – conduct the Fire and heat downward so as to remove it from the Liver and GB.
Herbs for Pink Eye
The best herbs for pink eye are those that act as a great support to your body to fight against infections. A certified Chinese herbalist will find the unique blend to treat your pink eye most effectively.
When selecting herbs to treat pink eye, we will choose those that act as antimicrobials, anti-inflammatories, and demulcents. These herbs will offer assistance to calm the irritation, moderate weeping, and crustiness and alleviate the redness associated with pink eye. Here are some of the most common use:
- Chamomile – has a soothing effect on the itch and irritation caused by pink eye.
- Marigold – is a classic herb used in cases of mucus buildup and congestion. It also has antimicrobial properties that can be of assistance in most cases of pink eye.
- Plantain – is a beneficial herb for the pink eye as it has a cooling, softening, and moistening effect on red and inflamed tissues.
- Eyebright – works on the mucous membranes as it helps to tone swollen and leaky tissues.
- Buddleia flower bud – improves excessive tearing and sensitivity to light.
- Chrysanthemum flowers – Clears the Liver, improves red, eyes, decreases excessive tearing, clears floaters and blurred vision.
Nutritional Supplements for Pink Eye
Some vitamins and minerals are said to prevent conjunctivitis (pink eye). Enriching your diet with those nutrients can protect your eye health, which in turn can help your eyes fight infection. Some of the most important supplements include:
- Zink supplements – are good for improving the responsiveness of the immune system.
- Vitamin A – is essential in building the body’s immune system.
- Vitamin C – reduces and prevents eye inflammation.
- Group B vitamins – are highly beneficial for eye health.
- Probiotics – reduce eye inflammation.