Pheasant’s eye has a long history of medicinal use and is still retained in the Pharmacopoeias of several European countries. The plant contains cardiac glycosides similar to those found in the foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). These substances improve the heart’s efficiency, increasing its output at the same time as slowing its rate. It also has a sedative action and so is generally prescribed for patients whose hearts are beating too fast or irregularly. The herb is not often prescribed, however, due to irregular absorption.
The herb is cardiotonic, diuretic, sedative and vasoconstrictor[4, 7, 9, 13, 46, 238]. It has sometimes been used internally as a cardiotonic with success where the better known foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) has failed – especially where there is also kidney disease. The herb is also used in the treatment of low blood pressure and its strong diuretic action can be used to counter water retention. It is included in many proprietary medicines, especially since its effects are not cumulative. The plants are harvested every third year as they come into flower, they are dried for use in tinctures and liquid extracts. The herb does not store well so stocks should be replaced every year. Use with great caution, see the notes above on toxicity.
The plant is used in homeopathy as a treatment for angina.