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Other Names:

Dé de Bergère, Dead Man's Bells, Digitale, Digitale Laineuse, Digitale Pourpre, Digitale Pourprée, Digitalis lanata, Digitalis purpurea, Doigtier, Fairy Cap, Fairy Finger, Foxglove, Gant-de-Bergère, Gant-de-Notre-Dame, Gantelée, Ga...
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digitalis Overview
digitalis Uses
digitalis Side Effects
digitalis Interactions
digitalis Dosing
digitalis Overview Information

Digitalis is a plant. Although the parts of the plant that grow above the ground can be used for medicine, digitalis is unsafe for self-medication. All parts of the plant are poisonous.

Chemicals taken from digitalis are used to make a prescription drug called digoxin. Digitalis lanata is the major source of digoxin in the US.

Digitalis is used for congestive heart failure (CHF) and relieving associated fluid retention (edema); irregular heartbeat, including atrial fibrillation and “flutter;” asthma; epilepsy; tuberculosis; constipation; headache; and spasm. It is also used to cause vomiting and for healing wounds and burns.

How does it work?

Digitalis contains chemicals from which the prescription medication digoxin (Lanoxin) is made. These chemicals can increase the strength of heart muscle contractions, change heart rate, and increase heart blood output.

digitalis Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Likely Effective for:

  • Irregular heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation or “flutter.”
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF) and related fluid retention.

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Asthma.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Constipation.
  • Headache.
  • Spasm.
  • Wounds.
  • Burns.
  • Causing vomiting.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of digitalis for these uses.

digitalis Side Effects & Safety

Digitalis is UNSAFE for anyone to use without the advice and care of a healthcare professional. Some people are especially sensitive to the toxic side effects of digitalis and should be extra careful to avoid use.

Digitalis can cause irregular heart function and death. Signs of digitalis poisoning include stomach upset, small eye pupils, blurred vision, strong slow pulse, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, excessive urination, fatigue, muscle weakness and tremors, stupor, confusion, convulsions, abnormal heartbeats, and death. Long-term use of digitalis can lead to symptoms of toxicity, including visual halos, yellow-green vision, and stomach upset.

Deaths have occurred when digitalis was mistaken for comfrey.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Digitalis is UNSAFE for self-medication. Do not use.

Heart disease: Although digitalis is effective for some heart conditions, it is too dangerous for people to use on their own. Heart disease needs diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring by a healthcare professional.

Kidney disease: People with kidney problems may not clear digitalis from their system very well. This can increase the chance of digitalis build-up and poisoning.

digitalis Interactions What is this?

Major Interaction Do not take this combination

  • Digoxin (Lanoxin) interacts with DIGITALIS

    Digoxin (Lanoxin) helps the heart beat more strongly. Digitalis also seems to affect the heart. Taking digitalis along with digoxin can increase the effects of digoxin and increase the risk of side effects. Do not take digitalis if you are taking digoxin (Lanoxin) without talking to your healthcare professional.

  • Quinine interacts with DIGITALIS

    Digitalis can affect the heart. Quinine can also affect the heart. Taking quinine along with digitalis might cause serious heart problems.

Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination

  • Antibiotics (Macrolide antibiotics) interacts with DIGITALIS

    Digitalis can affect the heart. Some antibiotics might increase how much digitalis the body absorbs. Increasing how much digitalis the body absorbs might increase the effects and side effects of digitalis.
    Some antibiotics called macrolide antibiotics include erythromycin, azithromycin, and clarithromycin.

  • Antibiotics (Tetracycline antibiotics) interacts with DIGITALIS

    Taking some antibiotics called tetracyclines with digitalis might increase the chance of side effects from digitalis.
    Some tetracyclines include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin).

  • Stimulant laxatives interacts with DIGITALIS

    Digitalis can affect the heart. The heart uses potassium. Laxatives called stimulant laxatives can decrease potassium levels in the body. Low potassium levels can increase the chance of side effects from digitalis.
    Some stimulant laxatives include bisacodyl (Correctol, Dulcolax), cascara, castor oil (Purge), senna (Senokot), and others.

  • Water pills (Diuretic drugs) interacts with DIGITALIS

    Digitalis might affect the heart. "Water pills" can decrease potassium in the body. Low potassium levels can also affect the heart and increase the risk of side effects from digitalis.
    Some "water pills" that can deplete potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDiuril, Microzide), and others.

digitalis Dosing

The appropriate dose of digitalis depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for digitalis. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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