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, Gantière, Grande Digitale, Lady's Thimble, Lion's Mouth, Purple Foxglove, Scotch Mercury, Throatwort, Witch's Bells, Woolly Foxglove.


Overview Information

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.
  • Congestive heart failure (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

Side Effects & Safety

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 & Warnings:

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.



Major Interaction

Do not take this combination

  • Digoxin (Lanoxin) interacts with FOXGLOVE

    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 FOXGLOVE

    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 FOXGLOVE

    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 FOXGLOVE

    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 FOXGLOVE

    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 FOXGLOVE

    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.



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.

View References


  • Bessen, H. A. Therapeutic and toxic effects of digitalis: William Withering, 1785. J.Emerg.Med. 1986;4(3):243-248. View abstract.
  • Brewer, L. A., III. The failing myocardium. Historical notes. Am.J Surg. 1984;147(6):712-718. View abstract.
  • Brustbauer, R. and Wenisch, C. [Bradycardiac atrial fibrillation after consuming herbal tea]. Dtsch.Med Wochenschr. 7-25-1997;122(30):930-932. View abstract.
  • Dickstein, E. S. and Kunkel, F. W. Foxglove tea poisoning. Am.J Med 1980;69(1):167-169. View abstract.
  • Friedman, P. L. and Smith, T. W. Foxglove and Fab: immunological approaches to digitalis intoxication. Int.J.Cardiol. 1983;3(2):237-240. View abstract.
  • Fujii, Y., Ikeda, Y., and Yamazaki, M. High-performance liquid chromatographic determination of secondary cardiac glycosides in Digitalis purpurea leaves. J Chromatogr. 10-6-1989;479(2):319-325. View abstract.
  • Hollman, A. Drugs for atrial fibrillation. Digoxin comes from Digitalis lanata. BMJ 4-6-1996;312(7035):912. View abstract.
  • Jowett, N. I. Foxglove poisoning. Hosp.Med 2002;63(12):758-759. View abstract.
  • Krikler, D. M. The foxglove, "The old woman from Shropshire" and William Withering. J Am.Coll.Cardiol. 1985;5(5 Suppl A):3A-9A. View abstract.
  • Lacassie, E., Marquet, P., Martin-Dupont, S., Gaulier, J. M., and Lachatre, G. A non-fatal case of intoxication with foxglove, documented by means of liquid chromatography-electrospray-mass spectrometry. J Forensic Sci 2000;45(5):1154-1158. View abstract.
  • Lee, T. C. Van Gogh's vision. Digitalis intoxication? JAMA 2-20-1981;245(7):727-729. View abstract.
  • Lugt, C. B. and Noordhoek-Ananias, L. Quantitative fluorimetric determination of the main cardiac glycosides in Digitalis purpurea leaves. Planta Med 1974;25(3):267-273. View abstract.
  • Mitchell, G. Foxed by the foxglove. Aust.Fam.Physician 1993;22(6):997-999. View abstract.
  • Omvik, P. [Foxglove poisoning]. Tidsskr.Nor Laegeforen. 5-30-1981;101(15):949-950. View abstract.
  • Ramlakhan, S. L. and Fletcher, A. K. It could have happened to Van Gogh: a case of fatal purple foxglove poisoning and review of the literature. Eur.J Emerg.Med 2007;14(6):356-359. View abstract.
  • Rich, S. A., Libera, J. M., and Locke, R. J. Treatment of foxglove extract poisoning with digoxin-specific Fab fragments. Ann.Emerg.Med 1993;22(12):1904-1907. View abstract.
  • Simpkiss, M. and Holt, D. Digitalis poisoning due to the accidental ingestion of foxglove leaves. Ther.Drug Monit. 1983;5(2):217. View abstract.
  • Thierry, S., Blot, F., Lacherade, J. C., Lefort, Y., Franzon, P., and Brun-Buisson, C. Poisoning with foxglove extract: favorable evolution without Fab fragments. Intensive Care Med 2000;26(10):1586. View abstract.
  • Wade, O. L. Digoxin 1785-1985. I. Two hundred years of digitalis. J.Clin.Hosp.Pharm. 1986;11(1):3-9. View abstract.
  • Yaginuma, M., Orimo, S., Kurosawa, T., Arai, M., and Hiyamuta, E. [Muscle weakness of the upper arms in the last trimester of administering digitalis]. Rinsho Shinkeigaku 1988;28(3):338-341. View abstract.
  • Burnham TH, ed. Drug Facts and Comparisons, Updated Monthly. Facts and Comparisons, St. Louis, MO.
  • Chaggar PS, Shaw SM, Williams SG. Is foxglove effective in heart failure? Cardiovasc Ther. 2015 Aug;33(4):236-41. View abstract.
  • De Smet PAGM, Keller K, Hansel R, Chandler RF, Eds. Adverse Effects of Herbal Drugs 1. Verlag, Berlin: Springer, 1992.
  • Foster S, Tyler VE. Tyler's Honest Herbal, 4th ed., Binghamton, NY: Haworth Herbal Press, 1999.
  • Gossel TA, Bricker JD. Principles of Clinical Toxicology. New York, NY:Raven Press, 1994.
  • Janssen RM, Berg M, Ovakim DH. Two cases of cardiac glycoside poisoning from accidental foxglove ingestion. CMAJ. 2016;188(10):747-50. View abstract.
  • Johnson JA, Lalonde RL. Congestive Heart Failure. Eds. DiPiro JT, et al. Pharmacotherapy, third ed. Stamford: Appleton and Lange, 1997.
  • Lin CC, Yang CC, Phua DH, Deng JF, Lu LH. An outbreak of foxglove leaf poisoning. J Chin Med Assoc. 2010;73(2):97-100. View abstract.
  • Maes KR, Depuydt P, Vermassen J, De Paepe P, Buylaert W, Lyphout C. Foxglove poisoning: diagnostic and therapeutic differences with medicinal digitalis glycosides overdose. Acta Clin Belg. 2020:1-7. View abstract.
  • Negroni MS, Marengo A, Caruso D, et al. A case report of accidental intoxication following ingestion of foxglove confused with borage: High digoxinemia without major complications. Case Rep Cardiol. 2019;2019:9707428. View abstract.
  • Wu IL, Yu JH, Lin CC, Seak CJ, Olson KR, Chen HY. Fatal cardiac glycoside poisoning due to mistaking foxglove for comfrey. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2017:1-4. View abstract.

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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.

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