Herb: Grecian Foxglove


Latin name: Digitalis lanata


Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)



Medicinal use of Grecian Foxglove:

The Grecian foxglove is a widely used herbal medicine with a recognised stimulatory effect upon the heart. It is also used in allopathic medicine as the main source of the cardiac glycosides that are used in the treatment of heart complaints. It has a profound tonic effect upon a diseased heart, enabling the heart to beat more slowly, powerfully and regularly without requiring more oxygen. At the same time it stimulates the flow of urine which lowers the volume of the blood and lessens the load on the heart. The plant contains cardiac glycosides (including digoxin, digitoxin and lanatosides). Digitoxin rapidly strengthens the heartbeat but is excreted very slowly. Digoxin is therefore preferred as a long-term medication. The leaves are cardiac, diuretic, stimulant and tonic. The leaves should only be harvested from plants in their second year of growth, picked when the flowering spike has grown and about two thirds of the flowers have opened. Harvested at other times, there is less of the medically active alkaloid present. The seed has also been used in the past. The leaves also have a very beneficial effect on the kidneys, they are strongly diuretic and are used with benefit in the treatment of dropsy. Great care should be exercised in the use of this plant, the therapeutic dose is very close to the lethal dose. Their use should always be supervised by a qualified practitioner since in excess they cause nausea, vomiting, slow pulse, visual disturbance, anorexia and fainting. See also the notes above on toxicity. A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves. It is used in the treatment of cardiac disorders.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Biennial/Perennial

Height:
60 cm
(2 feet)

Flovering:
June
to July

Habitat of the herb:

Woods and scrub.

Propagation of Grecian Foxglove:

Seed - surface sow early spring in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 4 weeks at 20C. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Woods and scrub.

Known hazards of Digitalis lanata:

All parts of the plant are poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.