Overview

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

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

Foxglove is most commonly used for heart failure and fluid build up in the body (congestive heart failure or CHF) and irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation). But it is not safe to use for any purpose.

How does it work ?

Foxglove 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.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Likely Effective for

  • Irregular heart rhythms (atrial fibrillation). Taking foxglove by mouth may improve irregular heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation or flutter. But it is unsafe to use foxglove for this condition without the advice and care of a healthcare professional.
  • Heart failure and fluid build up in the body (congestive heart failure or CHF). Taking foxglove by mouth may improve CHF and CHF-related swelling. But it is unsafe to use foxglove for this condition without the advice and care of a healthcare professional.

Insufficient Evidence for

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of foxglove for these uses.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Foxglove is UNSAFE for anyone to take by mouth without the advice and care of a healthcare professional. Some people are especially sensitive to the toxic side effects of foxglove and should be extra careful to avoid use.

Foxglove can cause irregular heart function and death. Signs of foxglove 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 foxglove can lead to symptoms of toxicity, including visual halos, yellow-green vision, and stomach upset.

Deaths have occurred when foxglove was mistaken for comfrey or borage.

Special Precautions and Warnings

When taken by mouth: Foxglove is UNSAFE for anyone to take by mouth without the advice and care of a healthcare professional. Some people are especially sensitive to the toxic side effects of foxglove and should be extra careful to avoid use.

Foxglove can cause irregular heart function and death. Signs of foxglove 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 foxglove can lead to symptoms of toxicity, including visual halos, yellow-green vision, and stomach upset.

Deaths have occurred when foxglove was mistaken for comfrey or borage.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Foxglove is UNSAFE when taken by mouth for self-medication. Do not use.

Children: Taking foxglove by mouth is LIKELY UNSAFE for children.

Heart disease: Although foxglove is effective for some heart conditions, it is too dangerous for people to use on their own. Heart disease needs to be diagnosed, treated, and monitored by a healthcare professional.

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

Interactions ?

    Major Interaction

    Do not take this combination

  • Digoxin (Lanoxin) interacts with FOXGLOVE

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

  • Quinine interacts with FOXGLOVE

    Foxglove can affect the heart. Quinine can also affect the heart. Taking quinine along with foxglove might cause serious heart problems.

    Moderate Interaction

    Be cautious with this combination

  • Antibiotics (Macrolide antibiotics) interacts with FOXGLOVE

    Foxglove can affect the heart. Some antibiotics might increase how much foxglove the body absorbs. Increasing how much foxglove the body absorbs might increase the effects and side effects of foxglove.

    Some antibiotics called macrolide antibiotics include erythromycin, azithromycin, and clarithromycin.

  • Antibiotics (Tetracycline antibiotics) interacts with FOXGLOVE

    Taking some antibiotics called tetracyclines with foxglove might increase the chance of side effects from foxglove.

    Some tetracyclines include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin).

  • Stimulant laxatives interacts with FOXGLOVE

    Foxglove 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 foxglove.

    Some stimulant laxatives include bisacodyl (Correctol, Dulcolax), cascara, castor oil (Purge), senna (Senokot), and others.

  • Water pills (Diuretic drugs) interacts with FOXGLOVE

    Foxglove 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 foxglove.

    Some "water pills" that can deplete potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDiuril, Microzide), and others.

Dosing

The appropriate dose of foxglove 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 foxglove. 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 2020.