Digitalis is a biennial or perennial herb that grows up to about 1.2 meters height. 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, difitoxin, 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 fatty oil with bland taste.
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.
Botanical Name: Digetalis purpurea
Indian Name: Tilpushpi
Below are some of the medicinal properties of digitalis:
- Digitalis 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 heart. When blood circulation gets impaired and dropsy sets in, digitalis help 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 with gratifying results in some ointment for local application on wounds and burns. In cases of burns, it is very effective in preserving severely damaged cells.
In therapeutic doses, digitalis 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.