Grecian Foxglove (Digitalis lanata)

Biennial/Perennial
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Grecian Foxglove
Digitalis lanata
Scrophulariaceae

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    The Grecian foxglove is a widely used herbal medicine with a recognised stimulatory effect upon the heart. It is also used in allopathic medicine as the main source of the cardiac glycosides that are used in the treatment of heart complaints[238, 254]. It has a profound tonic effect upon a diseased heart, enabling the heart to beat more slowly, powerfully and regularly without requiring more oxygen[254]. At the same time it stimulates the flow of urine which lowers the volume of the blood and lessens the load on the heart[254]. 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[254].

    The leaves are cardiac, diuretic, stimulant and tonic[4, 9, 21, 46, 171]. 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[4]. Harvested at other times, there is less of the medically active alkaloid present[4]. The seed has also been used in the past[4]. 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[4]. Great care should be exercised in the use of this plant, the therapeutic dose is very close to the lethal dose[222]. Their use should always be supervised by a qualified practitioner since in excess they cause nausea, vomiting, slow pulse, visual disturbance, anorexia and fainting[238]. See also the notes above on toxicity.

    A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves[9]. It is used in the treatment of cardiac disorders[9].

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    All parts of the plant are poisonous[7, 65].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – surface sow early spring in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 4 weeks at 20¡c[175]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.
An easily grown plant, succeeding in ordinary garden soil, especially if it is rich in organic matter[1]. It prefers a neutral to acid soil[238] and also succeeds in dry soils and, once established, is drought tolerant[188, 190]. It prefers semi-shade but succeeds in full sun if the soil is moist[188, 200]. The Grecian foxglove is cultivated for the medicinally active glycosides that are contained in the leaves[238]. This species is preferred over D. purpurea as a source of glycosides for the pharmaceutical industry[238]. Plants are either biennial or short-lived perennials[238]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[233]. This species can develop crown rot and root rot when growing in damp conditions[238].
E. Europe.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.