Foxglove Digitalis purpurea: Uses, Research, Remedies, Side Effects

Common Foxglove – Digitalis purpurea is an Ayurvedic plant used in the treatment of cough, asthma, fever, cardiac diseases, edema and impotency. 

Latin name- Digitalis purpurea Linn.
Family- Plantaginaceae

Hrutpatri Names in different languages:
English name- Digitalis, Fox glove, Lady’s glove, Common Foxglove, Purple foxglove

Synonyms of Hritpatri:
Tila pushpi- The flower resembles like sesame
Hritpatri- The leaf is heart shaped

Morphology of Digitalis purpurea:
It is a small plant growing to a height of 1-2 m and is found in the hilly regions of Kashmir and Himalayan belt. It is also cultivated for its medicinal property. The leaves are cardiac shaped, spirally arranged, simple, 10–35 cm long and 5–12 cm broad, and are covered with gray-white pubescent and glandular hairs, imparting a woolly texture. The foliage forms a tight rosette at ground level in the first year. The flowering stem develops in the second year, typically 1–2 m (3.3–6.6 ft) tall, sometimes longer. The flowers are arranged in a showy, terminal, elongated cluster, and each flower is tubular and pendent. The flowers are typically purple, but some plants, especially those under cultivation, may be pink, rose, yellow, or white.

Common Foxglove medicinal properties:
Rasa (Taste)- Tikta (Bitter)
Guna (Qualities) – Laghu (Light), Rooksha (Dry)
Veerya (Potency) – Sheeta (Cold)
Vipaka –Katu (undergoes pungent taste after digestion)
Karma (Actions) – Kaphavata shamak (reduces vitiated kapha and vata dosha), Pitta vardaka (Increases pitta dosha)
Part used – Dried leaf
Leaf powder- 500 mg

Chemical constituents of Digitalis purpurea:
Digitoxin, Tigogenin, Digitalin, Gitonin,, Gitosine, Digitoxigenin, Allonegitostin, Digipronin, Digiprolactone, Purpogenin, Purnalosides A&B  are the chemical constituents of the leaf of Digitalis.

Uses of Hrutpatri:

  • The powder of Digitalis is given in a dose of 250 mg to 300 mg to treat cough, asthma and inflammation of the lungs.
  • The powder of Hrutpatri is given with hot water or cow urine in a dose of 300-500 mg to treat pedal edema due to cardiac disease.
  • The powder is given to treat erectile dysfunction in a dose of 50-100 mg.
  • The powder of Digitalis is given in a dose of 50-100 mg to treat severe fever.
  • To treat insomnia, the powder of the leaf of Digitalis is given with milk.

Adverse effects of Hrutpatri: Hrutpatri can cause irregular or increased heart rate and can prove fatal due to the presence of the chemical digitoxin.  Nausea, Excessive salivation, Diarrhea are the initial features of adverse effect. Hence formulations containing Hrutpatri or the herb should be taken under medical supervision only.

Ayurvedic medicines containing Hrutpatri:
Chiniumco tablet
It is a proprietary ayurvedic medicine used for the treatment of bleeding from uterus, nose or any external wound.

Research articles related to Digitalis purpurea:
Hepato- protective action: The present research was aimed to study the in vivo hepato -protective activity of methanolic extract of Digitali Purpurea CCl4 induced hepato toxicity in albino rats. The extract of Digitalis Purpurea L. and silymarin administration prevented the toxic effect of CCl4 on the above serum parameters in both preventive and curative models. The present study concludes that, methanolic extract of Digitalis Purpurea Lhas significant hepato protective activity against CCl4induced hepatotoxicity,

Cardiac protection: Digitalis is of great value in chronic valvular cardiac disease, with failing or broken compensation, but it must be used with judgment, observing the need in the weak, fast, and irregular pulse, deficient urination, and dropsy. When hypertrophy of the heart overbalances dilatation, and evidences of arterial hyperaemia are present, digitalis is likely to aggravate the condition, or otherwise do harm. 

Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D
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