Herb: Foxglove


Latin name: Digitalis purpurea


Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)



Medicinal use of Foxglove:

The foxglove is a widely used herbal medicine with a recognised stimulatory effect upon the heart. It is also used in allopathic medicine 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. 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:
Biennial


Height:
120 cm
(4 feet)

Flovering:
June to
September

Habitat of the herb:

Acid soils in woods, heaths, mountain grasslands etc.

Other uses of Foxglove:

An infusion of the plant prolongs the life of cut flowers. Root crops growing near this plant store better. An apple-green dye is obtained from the flowers.

Propagation of the herb:

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. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown outdoors in situ in the spring or autumn.

Cultivation of Foxglove:

Acid soils in woods, heaths, mountain grasslands etc.

Known hazards of Digitalis purpurea:

All parts of the plant are highly poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.