Other Names of Digitalis

  • Woolly Foxglove
  • Witch's Bells
  • Throatwort
  • Scotch Mercury
  • Purple Foxglove
  • Lion's Mouth
  • Lady's Thimble
  • Foxglove
  • Fairy Finger
  • Fairy Cap
  • Digitalis purpurea
  • Digitalis lanatano
  • Digitale
  • Dead Man's Bells

Useful Parts of the Plant

  • Leaves
  • Flowers

The common foxglove or Digitalis purpurea is grown as a popular flower in gardens. It also grows wild in meadows or along the sides of the road primarily in the western part of the United States. Digitalis purpurea is the botanic name for the plant. This plant was brought by European migrants to the United States centuries ago. Digitalis has spotted, tube shaped, purple flowers and can grow to around five feet in height with many hairy, thick, and large leaves at the base of its tall stem. The varieties grown in gardens vary from deep rose to white colored flowers. Digitalis is one of the well known medicines derived from this plant.

Nutritional Information and Properties of Digitalis

Several glycosides are the active constituents of digitalis including three glycosides that are well defined; these are gitalin, gitoxin, and digitoxin. All the three glycosides have the property to stimulate and promote cardiovascular activity. A small amount of glycosides are contained in the leaves. Digitoxin is also contained in the leaves. An amber colored fatty oil with a bland taste is present in the seeds. If Digitalis is prescribed by the doctor you should inform him or her of all the supplements, vitamins, and medications that you are taking, regardless of whether they are over the counter, prescription or illegal drugs. This is because many substances can have an interaction with digitalis causing serious side effects.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Digitalis

  • Heart Disorders: The digitalis herb is used mainly in the treatment of heart diseases. It stimulates and promotes the activity of all the tissues of the heart muscles in cases of congestive heart failure. Therefore, using digitalis for heart failure can be very effective. This is because more blood is forced into the coronaries, thereby providing better nourishment to the heart. When there is an impairment of blood circulation, digitalis helps in regulating and restoring the heart's function.
  • Kidney Disorders: Digitalis helps in improving the supply of blood to the kidneys and eliminates obstructions in the kidneys, thereby improving urination.
  • Calcium: Digitalis helps in stimulating the receptors present in the heart to release more calcium. This leads to the heart beating more forcefully. During the progression of heart disease, there is a weakening of the heart muscles leading to a lesser production of calcium. This leads to an increased chance of a heart attack. However, with proper medication in the form of digitalis, the risk is reduced significantly.
  • Wounds and Burns: Digitalis is used in some ointments for treating burns and wounds as a local application. It is very useful in preserving cells that are severely damaged due to burns.
  • Other Medicinal Uses: Digitalis purpurea medicinal uses also include treatments for asthma, epilepsy, tuberculosis, constipation, and headaches.

Other Uses

Digitalis is a highly poisonous plant. If the raw or dried plant is accidentally consumed in any form, it can prove fatal. Hence, digitalis has not found any uses other than in the fields of traditional medicine or as a poison.

Precautions/Side Effects/ Warnings

The common administration of digitalis is in the form of powder, tablets, digitalis tinctures or suppositories. In therapeutic doses some mild toxic effects are produced by the drug. Some of the digitalis side effects include blurred vision, vomiting, nausea, drowsiness, fatigue, and headaches. Hence, it is important that you regulate the dosage in order to prevent such effects. These toxic effects should be carefully monitored and the doses should be regulated accordingly.