Treating Eye Problems & Facial Swelling - Homeopathy, Herbalism and Hens Part 1 Assessment, Observation & Techniques of Delivery.

This is my little Sebright/Polish/Sicilian Buttercup cross Clementina, she has a problem with swelling around both eyes and also an inflammation  of the third eyelid. In the case of any eye problems and I've had a few over the year, particularly with Sebrights, I have followed a combination of foodstuffs and homeopathic and herbal medicines which have proved a most effective combination.

Here she is again after a few of days of treatment.

As you can see her whole demeanor has changed. Apart from the swelling around the eyes, which had almost completely gone after the first 48 hours of treatment, her comb, always a good indication of health, had also returned to normal. She still has inflammation, particularly of the left eyelid, but I am now going on to treat this with compresses.

Assessment and observation

As with all health problems with my flock, the first thing I do is to have a look at the bird as a whole and see what is going on in her surroundings. I must say with Clementina because she is such a vivacious creature, it took me a fair few days before I noticed anything was wrong. We have a lot of nettles in our garden both to eat and as a food plant for caterpillars, so at first, I presumed she had been stung and that this was just a passing problem. She had no obvious other symptoms but I did notice she was being chased by one of my young cockerels, Pip, so presumed stress was part of the equation. I know this from my own experience, as the only time I contracted conjunctivitis, was during my exam finals and I treated it successfully with the same herb I always use on the poultry, viz., Euphrasia officinalis, common name, Eyebright. I also presumed if she was being pursued that she was spending a good time up trees and less time foraging and eating and she would already have been in the vicious circle of stress induced nutrient depletion, which would cause her more stress. So the first thing was to remove her from the flock momentarily and up her quota of the A and E vitamins, which have a direct influence on the health of the eyes. I also gave her some virgin organic coconut oil, which is a great support for the immune system.


In France, where we live, homeopathy (and herbal medicine) co-exist alongside allopathic treatments and are often available in high street chemist's shops. However, they are also readily available online and some laboratories also have them as certified organic. I have found the 'pillule' the easiest form of euphrasia to give to poultry. The required dose of 3 pellets or pillules is fed into the top of the container and then these can be poured directly into the beak.This process is important as homeopathy has very specific rules about its delivery to the patient as handling the pillules contaminates them with oils from the skin and renders them ineffective. This is because homeopathic pills do not have a protective covering and thus even a slight contact with the fingers can cause the pills to begin to dissolve onto the skin thus altering the dosage. For the same reason if you drop the pills onto the floor or table, for example, they will be compromised, so throw them away Similarly you should not be giving any strong additional medicine, such as essential oils, at the same time.

The same company I use, Boiron, sells Euphrasia Officinalis 6c (USA) which I have also used here in 6ch (European).  Boiron also sells Euphrasia Officinalis 5ch in the UK too. These suggested potencies for poultry and the dosage of 3 pillules 3 times per day, were suggested to me by a friend who is an organic farmer and also shadowed an organic vet as part of her training. In the case of a really bad infection, I have followed my sister's advice (also an organic farmer) and given 6 doses of 3 pillules in one day. The reason being, that within 48 hours i.e. six treatments, the patient should be responding well to treatment and looking much better. Therefore by the sixth dose you will know if you are on the right track, something really important in an advanced case. Also in advanced cases you can ignore the usual advice to give homeopathy outside mealtimes, the usual protocol is half an hour before or after food.

If you are giving treatment on your own, then my tip is to clamp the bird firmly but gently with your knees, this gives you both hands free to open the beak and pour in the pillules.

Another tip, if you are giving homeopathic medicine for the first time and/or to a nervous subject then buy more than one tube of pillules! Homeopathic medicine is not expensive, we a talking a couple of euros or a few dollars here and with the first two or three treatments you are possibly going to end up with a few pillules rolling around on the floor. I gave my first homeopathic treatment to Sneezy my Sebright when she had conjunctivitis, eight years ago but as you will see in the film, I can still waste a couple of pellets. 

Once I am sure, by using the 6 doses rule-of-thumb that I have the correct treatment, I continue with it until the symptoms have cleared.


This is an interesting and quite common problem with chickens and often in the Winter months. Coryza or catarrh is not actually an illness it is a symptom, or a sign that the body is ridding itself of toxins. Often these may be moulds, dust or even draughts, anything in fact which can irritate the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract. On rare occasions this can also be caused by bacteria, which can take hold of a flock if your birds have impaired immune systems. However, because chickens do not possess either hands or handkerchiefs, the running nose often seen with coryza can become blocked and lead to secondary symptoms and infection. In the case of this leading to eye problems, I have found euphrasia officinalis most effective in dealing with it. With regards to prevention, if your bird is exhibiting signs of coryza, then it is most important that the nose keeps flowing, I use a herbal inhalation for this, which I will be posting on shortly but in the meantime here is the film I made on how to prepare it. It is suitable for both adults, children and birds as it fills the whole room with fragrant steam rather than needs the patient to position themselves directly over the source. I did not find when I used it that it in any way impaired the efficacy of the euphrasia officinalis pillules.

There is also a second film in which I share how I use it to treat my poultry, which can be found: here

So here is Clemetina looking a whole lot better but with still a little swelling in the left third eyelid. So I am now going on to treat this topically, which I will deal with in the next post. I will also be posting the film I made too. I always feel that hens know so much more about how to treat themselves than we do. Last night I let her into the outbuilding, where we keep all the vegetable and fruit crates, which we get from our local organic shop. The first thing she did was jump onto one of the crates and start consuming leaves of swiss chard!

Follow this link for Part Two which shows how to make the herbal and flower infusions and how I made organic compresses and eye baths to soothe and treat Clementina's eyes:

Thanks for dropping by and please feel free to comment, ask questions and/or add your own experience of homeopathy.

If you have found this post useful then feel free to share it and also to comment and ask questions. All the best, Sue


Treating Roup/Coryza Upper Respiratory Problems 1 Assessment, Nutrition & Herbs.

I'll start this article with a dip into literature. I think this is very important in the understanding of both why I treat a bird holistically and also as an illustration of how society has more


© 2013 Sue Cross


  1. Hello. Do you know if euphrasia has been used with ducks? I have a 2 month old duck with eye issues.

    1. Hi Tiffany, there is poultry vade mecum for homeopathy free to read on line here - it mentions euphrasia for eyes but it is not totally specific as to ducks. Although ducks are included in the title of the book as you will see. You can read and even search through the book and see what you think. Personally I don't see the difference between ducks and chickens in the sense of euphrasia but as I have never given it personally to a duck I would like to be sure. To this end I have written a couple of e-mails and I can ring my herbalist and ask and thus get back to you. In the meantime I don't see any problem with giving your duck a rosewater compress as I made in the above article, that will at least soothe the eyes. All the very best, Sue

    2. Sorry the correct page for euphrasia is here and the rose water compress is in Part Two of this article but the link to that is above!

    3. Hello again Tiffany, Well I contacted the herbalist and they don't know anything about ducks and herbs. So I asked my local organic farmer, who has ducks and has treated them with homeopathy and they don't see any difference between ducks and hens for treatment. At the end of the day though, it is up to you and the herbalist suggested you could ask a vet but in that case it would have to be one who was au fait with natural medicines. Anyway hope this helps and all the very best, Sue

  2. Hello no idea if anyone will respond but here goes---My poor chicken, Camilla has not only a swollen eye but an entire swollen face on one side---bad. I was told to do tylan and lance the face to push out infection. I actually tried this and it was traumatizing with no results. I feel utterly stupid for not trying more stuff but i was and am freaking out over my sick girl. I think its MG but i really have no idea. I have been treating the wound with goldenseal and salt water every morning. She seems perfectly fine---dust bathing, pecking, eating, pooping and drinking well. just her poor face---i mean huge, the eye the cheek all of it twice to three times the normal size. what do I do?

    1. Hi there yes I will always respond, this blog is alive! Firstly why do you think it is MG (Mycoplasma gallisepticum)? If you have a small backyard flock eating a good diet, free-ranging or in a good space and not under stress, then I would be surprised. Inflammation is the way in which the body protects itself, it is quite a normal process. However inflammation can engender more inflammation and then it needs treating. Inflammation is also worsened by stress, as I detail with my chicken above, so one you need to keep Camilla warm and calm away from the rest of the flock if you think they are causing her stress. Plus, you need to be calm when you are near her and treat her because she will be bonded or now bonding very closely to you and will catch your mood. So the first thing to do is to think this through, if it is one side then to my mind she has perhaps been bitten by an insect or some other creature and had a reaction to it, as some humans do. She could have been pecked or wounded in some way and it is infected and/or she has had reaction to it. This seems to me to be a localised issue, she could have a foreign body in a wound or something in her eye also which is causing the inflammation. Have you bathed the eye as I did above? Is she scratching at her face at all as if it itches? She may also have conjunctivitis again this is stress related and stress can be triggered by a change in temperature and/or combined with being in a draught. Where is she roosting, could that account for one side of her face being subject to cold or damp? I'm presuming you are coming into Autumn/Fall or Winter? I always look at nutrition first to support the immune system, in essence I would be looking at providing the means for Camilla to heal herself. Vitamin A and the B complex vitamins are associated with both stress and inflammation so I would take her off grain and feed her a good mix of fresh leafy greens, grated carrot, wild protein, such as wood lice (sow bugs), earwigs, meal worms etc.,. and a boiled egg. I would also up her Vitamin C, so half an orange let her drink the juice by squeezing it if she will not eat the actual orange, berry fruits, chickweed are also good. The best for vitamin C is rose hips if you have unsprayed roses or access to non-treated wild ones. A further word about this, I am not sure if you are feeding organic but I would not subject Camilla to any further chance of pesticide or other synthetic residues so try to get organic food for her now. I would also get organic raw coconut oil and feed her that, it has amazing nutritional content in lauric, capric and caprylic acid. Lauric in particular is an amazing support for the immune system and it will also fight infection. For extra strength I would add a pinch of organic turmeric to the coconut oil as this is again a powerful anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. As for topical treatment of the wound, my normal option would be green clay and a cabbage poultice but that is really hard in the position around the eye. You will find both these on my blog and how to use them. I think I would use the green clay internally. You need to find a good quality local therapeutic clay, or maybe you can get French Green Clay? Put a teaspoon of clay (use a wooden or other non-metallic nor plastic spoon and do not use a metal or plastic container) into a cup of mineral water, mix and allow to settle, Camilla should then drink the 'clay water' off the top. Therapeutic clays are incredibly powerful, they remove toxins from the body even radiation. The cabbage poultice also reduces inflammation but the easiest way given the position, is to use a leaf of a dark green or red cabbage, heat it (you can actually iron it) this releases the active anti-inflammatory properties in the cabbage juice - I have written about this here ...cont

    2. ...cont... You can also use the protocols I used with Clementina above but the main thing is to think back to when it started and try to work out how it happened. I would always look for something simple in a happy, healthy, backyard flock, like a bite, injury, foreign body or stress related condition rather than a disease. Even if it is a disease or a tumour you can work on this with good organic nutrition and natural methods of dealing with inflammation. If the wound is now badly infected and you will smell it if it is, then I would use essential oil of oregano - 1 drop only mixed into one teaspoon of carrier oil (olive/sunflower/coconut) rubbed onto the soles of the feet. Transdermal delivery of antimicrobials is the best, as if they go through the stomach they can strip it of all the gut flora and then you mess up the immune system. Only use oregano once a day and for 5 days maximum then lay off for five days. However I normally only use it for the first 5, as it is so powerful, it should have shifted anything by then. Hope this is of use and get back to me with more details if you want to. All the very best and a hug to Camilla, Sue

    3. Sue are you there? I have written extensively to you. Camillas fave is getting more swollen and it is starting to affect her throat :(

  3. Sue! Oh my I am so glad you responded! I would love to do this thru email so I could send some pictures and go into some more detail. My email is I think it is MG for several reasons. She was under a ton of stress. My chicken story is this---
    Camilla was my only chicken. She quickly became my little pet and queen of the roost. My husband and I moved to the country and as a present, we received 6 pullets and one teenage rooster. This was quite a change for my little queen. She pecked and pecked at those pulleys and even at Kevin the pubescent rooster. Within a few weeks though, Kevin and her became friends and they would roam the yard together having a lovely time. She never did like the pullets and always pestered them. Then we moved again after only a few months. I had become pregnant and my husband and I were both working 10 hours days and commuting an hour to work and then an hour home. I was exhausted with morning sickness. Our house was....well I just can't think of anything to say except "shithole". The chickens suffered immashamed and very sad to say. I was overwhelmed. They never got a proper coop at this house and were roosting in trees. The pullets were growing quickly. The neighborhood was over run with wild roosters and hens---in talking 10-20 large roosters roaming our block and coming into our yard as they pleased. Camilla's friend Kevin soon disappeared. I have no idea what happened to him. He may have been killed by another rooster. Camilla my baby pet was now throw out into the wild with another neighborhood rooster watching over her and the pullets. Then we moved again after 2 months. It was awful. We caught 2 pullets and Camilla. At our new house we discovered all three of them were roosters. We took them back to the country to roam with the others. We caught 2 more pullets and took them back. We soon Found they were roosters as well. The remaining two pullets were never caught. The last two roosters had grown huge and strong. We caught them and culled them and made chicken soup. We caught Camilla too and my once tame little girl ran and ran and collapsed in exhaustion. This is when I saw how all of the stress had affected her. She had been pecked on her neck for her feathers were broken off. She was scared and thin. She had stopped laying. This whole time she was in a rooster den as the only hen with no roost. I took her inside and gave her tlc. The chickens had been fed organic pellets and organic scratch. I thought they were getting enough protein from the yard. The roosters were but not poor Camilla. I also think she was dehydrated because the roosters were not letting her get enough water. You can imagine the guilt and shame I felt for letting this happen. It was just so hard with all the moves, work, and pregnancy. Soon after the roosters were culled we noticed her facial swelling. I got her on tetracycline water soluable antibiotic. This helped and the swelling seemed better. Our bond grew again and loved having Camilla inside. My husband had the idea of making her a temporary roost in the cellar. I disagreed with the idea but he did it while I was at work and I thought well whatever. When I got her from the cellar she was worse. Her face had swollen much more. I was mad and so upset. Continued caring for her. That's when someone told me I needed to lance her face to get out the infection. I did this and nothing happened. I was once again devastated and traumatized. I've been given Tylan 50. First injected for 6 days and now orally. Her face continues to swell. Her heel underneath the incision and all above her eye. The eye itself is infected I know. I clean and flush it multiple times a day. The infection seems to slowly be pushing itself out of the eye. The swelling on her lower cheek is getting worse though. Her demeanor is still great and she enjoys snuggling with me and hanging out all day. I started giving her eggs and tuna which she devours ravenously.

  4. I will defiantly be doing the oregano. I know about tuneric and coconut oil as well just never thought of it for a chicken! I will immediately take her off the grain and get some dark leafy greens for her. I will continue the egg and tuna. Trying some orange juice today. She is a fighter! I just hope I have time before the infection spreads to the brain. So far so good. I love her so much and as I said I am so embarrassed ashamed and sad that I have allowed this to happen to my poor girl. Going from 1 chicken to 8 was way too much for my husband and I to handle. Things have settled down at the new house. My morning sickness is gone and I am able to tend to all the pets easily. Our house is very beautiful and Camilla has a safe yard all of her own. I roost her inside every night in a bookshelf which she seems to enjoy. I'm giving water with apple cider vinegar and flushing the wound.

  5. Sue you are a life saver. I will also be doing the cabbage on the eye. I truly believe this will help. My only fear is that ther is already dead tissue in the cut or in the eye. Time will tell I suppose but I have high hopes for my girl.

    1. Hi Shannon, I'm here but just about to go out and put my birds away. I had in fact planned to write to you when I got back in - in about quarter of an hour from now, as I have got a little free time, finally. Also our internet is very slow today as the temperatures have dropped and I think everyone is inside on the computers. I wanted to ask you if her face is swollen all over or she has specific defined lumps. You have written that the other poultry were pecking her, this can cause trauma to the feather follicles and they can get impacted. Also have you still got her indoors and with you and by 'affect the throat' do you mean that is swelling too or just she is now having difficulty in swallowing? You have all had a lot of stress which will have taken a toll and the immune system is obviously being compromised because of this. These things happen unfortunately and try as we might sometimes we just can't juggle everything. If you can answer me these questions that would be great. By the way I know nothing about conventional treatment for chickens, such as pharmaceutical products as I never use them. I'll get back to you when I come in. All the best, Sue

    2. Hi Shannon, If you are not giving antibiotics then I would think about trying the euphrasia homeopathy, that I gave Clementina because this is also used for roup which is the old name for the, modern plethora of swollen face/respiratory problems. I found it worked for my chickens, when I had several with it the year I stopped growing cabbage because they were always breaking into the patch! Most of these problems, in my experience, are stress and nutrient related. The only proviso is that, homeopathic medicine will not work in conjunction with pharmaceuticals, you really have to decide to use one or the other. Even with essential oils you can not use homeopathics at the same time. However, as homeopathic medicine works so quickly, if you are on the right track, i.e. 24 - 48 hours, you do have time to try it out. As I mentioned in the article above, in an emergency you can also give 6 doses within the 24 hour period rather than wait the usual 2 days. Any way hope this is of help, All the best, Sue