Digitalis, commonly known as Foxglove, is a biennial or perennial herb growing unto about 1.2 metres tall. The lower basal leaves of the plant are long-stalked, hairy and egg-shaped and the upper leaves are almost without stalks, becoming smaller in size as they go upwards. It has white or purple flowers, and egg-shaped fruits.
The active constituents of digitalis are the several glycosides, including three well defined glycosides, namely, digitoxin, gitoxin and gitalin. All the three glycosides possess the property to promote and stimulate cardio-vascular activity. Leaves contain little amount of glycosides. Digitoxin is also contained in the leaves. Its seeds contain an amber coloured fatty oil with bland taste.
The tinctures from the Indian leaves are darker and contain more resinous matter than those prepared from the European varieties.
This drug is mainly used in treating heart diseases. In case of congested heart failure, it promotes and stimulates the activity of all muscle tissues. The herb forces more blood into the coronaries thereby improving the nourishment to the heartWhen blood circulation gets impaired and dropsy sets in, digitalis helps in restoration and regulation of the function of the heart.
It helps urination by improving the blood supply to the kidneys and removes obstructions within the kidneys.
Digitalis is used in some ointments for local application on wounds and burns. In cases of burns, it is very effective in preserving severely damaged cells.
Methods for Uses and Dosages: Digitalis is commonly, administered in the form of tablets, powder or digitalis tincture and suppositories available with the Ayurvedic pharmacies. It is also used in making injections. In therapeutic doses, the drug usually produces mild toxic effects. The toxic effects include headache, fatigue, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting and blurred vision. It is therefore, necessary to regulate the dose in such a manner so as to avoid such effects. The toxic effects mentioned should be watched carefully and the dose regulated accordingly