Digitalis purpurea , commonly known as fox glove , belongs family scrophulariaceae. It isa native of western and southern Europe and western and central Asia. This plant contains glycosides as the main constituent
The discovery of digitalis is accredited to the Scottish doctor William Withering  , and makes for quite an interesting historical story. While working as a physician in Staffordshire in the 18th Century, his girlfriend got him interested in plants and botany - so much so, that in 1776 he published a huge treatise, whose title begins 'A botanical arrangement of all the vegetables growing in Great Britain,...' and goes on for a further 24 lines! By the age of 46 he'd become the richest doctor outside of London, and bought Edgbaston Hall in Birmingham, which is now Edgbaston Golf Club. Another of his claims to fame is that he owned the first water closet in Birmingham!
In 1775, one of his patients came to him with a very bad heart condition and since Withering had no effective treatment for him, thought he was going to die. The patient, being an independent type, went instead to a local gypsy, took a secret herbal remedy - and promptly got much better
When Withering heard about this, he became quite excited and searched for the gypsy throughout the by-ways of Shropshire. Eventually he found her, and demanded to know what was in the secret remedy. After much bargaining, the gypsy finally told her secret. The herbal remedy was made from a whole concoction of things, but the active ingredient was the purple fox glove , digitalis purpurea. The potency of digitalis extract had been known since the dark ages, when it had been used as a poison for the mediaeval 'trial by ordeal', and also used as an external application to promote the healing of wounds. There are also reports of digitalis extract finding some use in the treatment of dropsy.
Heart diseases- Digitalis is mainly used in the treatment of heart diseases. In case of congested heart failure , it promotes and stimulates the activity of all muscle tissues. It forces more blood in to the coronaries thereby improving the nourishment  to the heart. When blood circulation gets impaired  and dropsy sets in digitalis helps in restoration and regulation of the functions of the heart
Kidney disorders- It helps urination by improving the blood supply to the kidneys and removes obstructions with in the kidneys
Burns and wounds- Digitalis is also used in some ointments for local application  on wounds and burns, In case of burns it is very effective in preserving severely damaged cells
Side effects- In therapeutic doses , the drug usually produces mild toxic effects . The toxic effects include headache, fatigue, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting and blurred vision. It is there  fore advisable to regulate the dose in such a manner so as to avoid such effects

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