Treating Conjunctivitis- Pink Eye Naturally and Cheaply With Olive Leaf Tea

 photo IMG_1409_zps8a5713d9.jpgI hate pink eye. It's gross looking, uncomfortable, and highly contagious. If you've never had the "privilege" of having pink eye (officially known as conjunctivitis), it's when your eyes start oozing yellowish pus and the eye looks blood shot, and usually under the eye is either puffy or discolored or both. (If you want to see some nasty pictures of what pink eye looks like, if you're still not sure what I'm talking about, click here.) If you have pink eye, you may find your eyes glued/crusted shut from all the pus. And worst of all, if you touch one eye that has pink eye, and don't wash your hands very well after, and then touch another eye after, that new eye will likely get infected as well. Pink eye passes from one eye to the other and from person to person easily. Even when treating pink eye, you need to treat each eye separately so as to not potentially pass the infection back and forth...
(I am pretty sure kids are more likely to get pink eye than adults, but I don't know this for certain.)

Anyhow, now after that long, icky introduction, I just had to say that my little Anneliese developed a case of pink eye. So gross to look at, made her look so pitiful.
Some people rush to the doctor to get medicine for pink eye immediately, because it is highly contagious, but I never do that. I don't think, in my 6+ years of parenting, and more than one case of pink eye, that I've ever treated pink eye with medicine from the doctor. And that's because natural remedies simply work so well, and are safer and much cheaper to boot.

If you're nursing and have breastmilk, breastmilk treats pink eye very well. It has antibacterial and antiviral and other healing properties- when my babies had pink eye that was all I ever used and it went away.
Couldn't do that for Anneliese, though, because though I am still nursing her, I don't really have any milk left, can't use it for healing things. So I had to figure out an alternative.
I had heard of using black tea bags to treat conjunctivitis, but I had no personal experience with it, and I decided I wanted to try something else, something cheaper that would probably be more effective- olive leaf tea.

We have many olive trees growing around, so we can get olive leaves easy and for free. (But if you can't get them free, you can buy them online, in places like this). I thought to try to use olive leaves to heal her pink eye because of olive leaf's amazing medicinal properties, among which is the fact that it is antibacterial, antiviral and anti microbial in general. Since pink eye can be caused either from a virus or a bacteria, using olive leaf tea to cure it hits two birds with one stone.

To make the tea, simply boil a bunch of olive leaves in water for a few minutes. You can also pour boiling water onto the leaves and let it seep, but it is less strong that way.

To use it to cure pink eye, just dip cotton balls in the olive leaf tea, and wipe the eye with it (and squeeze some of the tea into the eye if you can). Use separate cotton balls for each eye (because of the reasons I mentioned above) and repeat a few times a day.
I found after just one application, the eye got much better, and after a few it was completely gone.

I highly recommend this treatment for pink eye.

(P.S. My daughter cried when I applied it, so I was afraid it was stinging her eyes, so I tried it out on myself- doesn't hurt at all. She just doesn't like people touching her eyes.)

And if you, fortunately, don't have pink eye, olive leaf tea is great for so many other ways. We drink it on a regular basis just as our drink (diluted a bit, without sugar) instead of water, either cold or hot. It tastes like green tea, and is good for so many things. Not only for healing viral or bacterial illnessess like colds, the flu, etc... but also as a preventative. Since we started drinking olive leaf tea regularly, we find we don't get sick as often, even when we think we might. (Some times we feel our throat getting scratchy- drink two cups of olive leaf tea, and feel better in the morning...)
Olive leaf tea is also helpful for people with heart issues, such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc...
It also has 4 times as many antioxidants in it as green tea...
I mix olive leaves with black tea to make olive leaf kombucha, which makes olive leaf tea even more healing, since kombucha is also very healing for the body. (For a mason jar of kombucha, I usually do one black tea bag, and the rest of the tea olive leaf.)
(In case you were wondering, my research showed up that olive leaf tea is totally fine for pregnancy.)
I've also been known to throw in some olive leaf tea in various things I'm cooking, like soups, etc... and no one can tell the difference...

Anyhow, I just had to share about this wonderful treatment for pink eye and so many other things.

Have you ever heard of olive leaves being medicinal? Have you ever used olive leaves, either medicinally or just as a frugal drink? 
What do you do to treat pink eye? What do you find is most effective?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Sounds interesting. Don't know if I'd try it, though (can't find olive leaves here, for starters). Happily we don't have a conjunctivitis issue at the moment, but I gotta wonder: what's in olive leaves that kills all that stuff? With most eye medications, you have one active compound, mixed with salt water (basically), at a known percentage. Personally, I'd be a bit uncomfortable dripping antibiotics into me on a regular basis, even if they are all-natural--you select for antimicrobial resistance no matter what.

    1. From a different site. "Olive leaf contains a substance called oleuropein, which breaks down in the body to another substance called enolinate. On websites that promote olive leaf extracts, it is stated that enolinate kills harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the body, but at the same time nurtures microbes that are good for health."

      I wouldn't put olive leaf tea in the same category as antibiotics- I don't think it would breed antibiotics resistant bacteria, but I will do some research into that.

    2. Anything that kills bacteria is an antibiotic. Penicillin was once just a by-product of bread mold ;-) (Just an FYI)

      The active compounds of most natural remedies are far more complicated than what labs can make. This is, I suppose, both a good and a bad thing, from a "natural health" POV--you can't make it in a lab, so it can't be artificial...but on the other hand, if you can't make it in a lab, you also can't control for purity.

    3. I guess I just have a little more faith in nature/the creator/God or however else you want to call it, that you don't need to control natural things for purity, that it comes in a form that is good for you...

  2. This is a great post, very helpful and wish I had this information 10 years ago when I suffered from a very severe case of viral pink eye for 2 months, and of course viral means "no antibiotics" this was before my natural health shift too. Anyway, also a great reminder of the many uses of the amazing breast milk too! Thanks!

  3. I wish I knew this also. Last year I squirted breast milk directly into baby's eyes all day for 3 days straight and it didn't help! Finally I went to the doctor and those littel drops did the trick. Oh well. Next time.

  4. If conjunctivitis can be caught treated effectively early it would save the expense of the doctors visit and the expense of antibiotic drops. One way or another antibiotic treatment is required with bacterial infection. I have an olive tree in the front yard and will be looking into how I can use the leaves. Thank you Penny.

  5. I have used black tea --I steep2 tea bags in a cup of water for 15 mins. remove bags(I save the tea bags for wiping the eye good) then I put 5 drops in 5 times that day reapeat for four days --I read that you can use honey in water for bacterial pink eye.

  6. I have a question- people say drink kombucha and kefir water, are they not about the same idea?

  7. I'll be sure to remember this if I ever catch pink eye from my cat again. (Yeah, caught it from my cat, gross.)
    I am a huge fan of using whatever medication/herb/chemical that gets the job done best. But I am also aware that all medications and herbs have negative effects in some people. So I thought I might share my insight, though I'm NOT saying I disagree with u treating her pink eye the way u did.
    I use roman chammomile flowers to treat an ulcer I developed after NSAID use. This tea is said to be calming, I've never gotten that effect from it, but after about 12 tsp of dried flower tea my ulcer pain subsides for weeks to months, conventional medicine prescribed by my doctors never gave me instant relief like that. Ulcer treatment is not usually listed as an effect of chammomile. But because of my own body chemistry it has that effect on me, and its a powerful effect. Also, some chamomile plants make my ulcer worse, I have to be careful which I use. They all look the same but it has to specifically be roman, and grown under consistant conditions. However, as its a relative of ragweed, if u drink it for more than two weeks straight u can develop a severe allergy to ragweed, and get hayfever. Yet people think it is safe to rub on babies daily in the form of lotion. It DOES have a negative side effect for some people under the right conditions as stated above.
    Also, I use raspberry leaf tea to treat dysmenoria (severe menstrual cramps). This herb is known to cause miscarriages, as one of it's negative effects, but can also keep labor at bay if used in small amounts. This herb, like all herbs and medications have negative effects. Normally it stops my cramps after 2 tsp of dried leaves, within 15 minutes, and it lightens my flow. However, every so often chance/nature/god has provided one raspberry bush with some very potent leaves, so when I take my normal 2 tsp dose.. I end up with the negative effects because nature/god didn't measure it all out in a lab. So I end up crippled from cramps and have an extremely heavy flow. Just because of the natural variants in the chemical components found in plants/herbs. Some are more potent than others, so you can end up with a far too strong dose, or a super weak dose, depending on each plant.
    I also use tea tree oil, burdock, olive leaf capsules, peppermint oil for pain, white willow bark, echinacea and a ton of other herbs I grow at home.
    Olive leaf, from my research before using it myself, is not recommended for ppl with gall stones or biliary stones, and can cause runny nose and asthma attacks in people prone to them. Also, from my research it can irritate the surface of the eye, so should not be put near your eyes. Maybe you felt no pain but your daughter will have her own susceptibility to negative (and positive) effects of herbs. It may have been irritating to her eyes and not yours.
    That being said, teas are absolutely the safest way to ingest herbs, the smallest amount of active chemicals are extracted during steeping in water. So in general, effects (both good and bad) will be far milder with teas. (Tinctures, where u disolve in alcohol are next strongest). Teas are the only form of herbs I recommend giving to children.

  8. Just posted about negative effects of herbs, also wanted to add this, incredibly sorry for the long comment. I'm bad at short comments. Sorry sorry sorry.
    Anti-biotics cause resistance because of misuse of the medication. The major cause of the resistant strains are due to people feeling better after a few pills and not finishing their whole course of pills. The first few pills kill the weakest bacteria first, as you take more pills it will wear down the stronger bacteria until by the end of your course they too have died. By not finishing ALL of the pills you leave the strongest, fittest, most resilient bacteria floating around in your body. You have only killed off the weakest of the bacteria.. The strong ones live on to multiply and infect other people, who also don't finish their course of antibiotics, which again, filters out the weakest ones and allows the stronger bacteria to live and multiply into more bacteria just as strong or stronger than before. This repeats for a few years, in a population of billions of humans until you have a strain of bacteria that is decendants of the strongest bacterial survivors. The old anti-biotics just won't work on the new generation of olympian-warrior-strains.
    I don't know the effects of natural herbs on resistance, but I would say it is not currently a concern because there are not billions of people around the world mis-using the herbal anti-biotics, so, the evolution of bacteria resistant to the herb will not be rapid enough to cause a massive problem. I wouldn't be concerned with that at all.

  9. Thank you so much for this. I never paid much attention to trees so I thought there were no olive trees where I lived. What a mistake! I found a ton of them and decided to try out your tea suggestion. At first, I was skeptical cause it didn't taste like anything but boiled water but the cough I've had for years suddenly reduced dramatically with just one cup of tea. I've tried green tea and even antibiotics but oil leaves cured what neither of them could! I plan on drinking a lot. :)

  10. I have heard of Olive Leaf being highly medicinal in many ways; however, I have not used it for many. For pink eye for my little man, I have used Chamomile Tea similarly to the way you use the Olive Leaf Tea with a similar result :)

  11. Do you wash and oven-dry the leaves first? Crush them? How exactly do you make the tea and store it? Steep or boil? And what are the amounts?

  12. Ages ago, I used olive leaf tea for a raging case of pink eye (caught it from my preschool grandson), and it went away inside a day or two. I did, however, continue to wash my eyes out with the tea for a few more days to make sure, just less often per day. I thought of olive leaf because I had taken the capsules, and I didn't know I could get the leaves for tea back then, so I emptied out the capsules into the boiling water, and let the ground leaves settle to the bottom before using a dropper to siphon up the clear tea. I have since acquired the leaves ... much nicer.

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