Digitalis has been used as a potent heart medicine in Europe since the1700’s. English physician, botanist, geologist, and chemist William Withering first published a book describing the beneficial uses of foxglove in respect to treating a weak heart, irregular heart beat or dropsy. Due to the potentially fatal toxicity of the plant, the pharmaceutical drug, Digoxin was created as a standardized purified cardiac glycoside derived from the leaves. Digoxin is prescribes for the treatment of congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation. Digitalis evolved from a beautiful flower in an English garden to a prominent world class heart medication. It commonly grows along the edges of forests in Ireland and the coastal Pacific Northwest of the U.S.
COMMON NAMES: Digitalis, foxglove, fairy fingers, fairy thimble
PLANT FAMILY: Plantaginaceae
ACTIVE MEDICINAL COMPOUNDS: Digitoxin, digoxin (cardiac glycosides)
ORIGIN / HABITAT: Native to parts of Europe and Africa
HARDINESS: Biennial; to Zone 4
PARTS USED: Leaves and Flowers
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Digitalis grows to 4 feet in the summer with color varieties ranging from pink to purple or white.
CATEGORY: Medicinal, Poison, Ornamental, Fabric Dye
SAFETY: All plant parts are extremely poisonous to ingest. It is unsafe for self medication. Physician prescribed dosing is required for all use. The medicinal properties have been standardized to a pharmaceutical drug called Digoxin.