( Digitalis purpurea)
Parts used: Leaves
Common foxglove is a perennial that grows to 5 ft. It has a single erect stem,broad lance shaped leaves,bell shaped purple pink white flowers in long spikes.
The herb is a native to western Europe. Though it is also cultivated,the wild plant is considered superior. The leaves are picked in the summer.Common foxglove was discovered by an 18th century country doctor,William Withering. Curious about the formula of a local herbalist,he explored the plant’s potential medical uses. His work led to the production of a life saving medicine.
Common foxglove contains cardiac glycosides,,including digoxin,digitoxin,lanatosides,anthraquinones,flavonoids,saponins.Digitoxin rapidly strengthens the heartbeat but is excreted very slowly. Digoxin is preferred as a long term medication.
It has a profound tonic effect on a diseased heart. Heart disease worsens when the heart’s ability to maintain normal circulation decreases. Foxglove’s cardiac glycosides enable the heart to beat more strongly,slowly,regularly without requiring more oxygen. At the same time it stimulates urine production,which lowers the volume of blood, thus lessens the load on the heart.