The Pernicious Diaries ~ Homeopathy – Digitalis

Foxglove

Digitalis purpurea

Foxglove is an herb-like plant that grows biennially. Foxgloves produce spirally arranged leaves that are simple and grow up to 10 cm to 35 cm in length and 5 cm to 12 cm in width. The leaves are grey-green in color, soft and have a finely jagged margin. During the first year of the plant’s growth, the leaves are in the form of a tight rose-shaped arrangement (rosette) at the level of the ground.

The foxglove plant bears a flowering stalk in the second year of its existence. Usually, the flowering stalk of the plant grows up to a height of 1 meter to 2 meters and at times even taller. The color of flowers of this species is varied – usually purple, but they may be rose, pink, yellow or even white hued in selected cultivable varieties. These flowers are organized in a very ostentatious, terminal, lengthened cluster with each being cylindrical and dangling like a pendant or pendulum. Apart from appearing at the stalk terminal, the flowers may occur at the inside bottom of the tubular flowering stem. The plant blooms during the early part of summer and often when there are additional growths of flowering stems, the plant may also flower later than their flowering season. The plant bears fruits that are akin to capsules and when they are ripe, they rupture to discharge copious tiny seeds, each measuring around 0.1 mm to 0.2 mm.

The leaves, flowers, as well as seeds of this herb, are poisonous to humans as well as certain animals as they enclose a toxic cardiac glycoside called digitoxin. Consuming either of them may even prove to be fatal. However, 18th-century English botanist William Withering was the first to extract cardiac glycoside digitoxin from the leaves and presently it forms the basis of the medication that is used to treat heart problems. Withering was also the first to identify that this organic chemical compound was helpful in reducing dropsy (a health condition distinguished by a buildup of watery fluid in the tissues), enhancing the flow of urine as well as having a potent influence on the heart. Very dissimilar to the distilled form used by pharmaceutical firms, the extracts obtained from the foxglove plant usually did not result in frequent intoxication as they promoted vomiting and nausea within a few minutes of ingesting them. In fact, such vomiting and nausea prevent patients from consuming more of this toxic substance contained in the extracts.

The homeopathic remedy digitalis is primarily used to treat heart ailments. Precisely speaking, homeopathic physicians prescribe this medication for patients who are susceptible to heart ailment and problems of the circulatory system. This homeopathic remedy is believed to be especially suitable if the symptoms endured by the patients are accompanied by apprehensions regarding their death. They may also suffer from the trepidation that any movement, particularly walking, may result in their heart to stop beating. In addition, such patients may also suffer from visual problems and have a craving for bitter things. People who respond best to the homeopathic remedy digitalis are patients who suffer from heart ailments that are accompanied by vertigo, pains in the region of the heart, a sluggish pulse rate and nausea. In addition to the conditions and symptoms mentioned here, digitalis is also prescribed for patients enduring liver ailments, especially when they take place concurrently with the symptoms related to heart disorders.

As fore-mentioned, William Withering, the 18th-century English botanist, and the physician were the first to prove that the flowers of the foxglove plant were a significant medication for treating heart disorders. Even to this day, the active elements of the plant’s flowers are made use of in preparing herbal as well as other traditional heart medications.

Despite being an attractive plant, the foxglove is a lethal poison. Hence, consuming the leaves, flowers or seeds of this plant may lead to gastrointestinal problems and most remarkably, result in heart and circulation problems. When any part of this toxic plant is ingested, it may slow the heart beat. This is a primary reason that allopathic medicines containing extracts of digitalis are only given to patients when their heart palpitates or beats exceptionally fast. However, in homeopathy, digitalis is given to a patient when his/ her heart is failing to carry on its normal pace, especially when the patient experiences problems in breathing normally.

When the tissues of a patient do not receive enough oxygen owing to poor blood circulation it results in their appearance turning blue, a condition known as cyanosis. In such cases, administration of the homeopathic medication digitalis may produce incredible results. In addition, patients who are always apprehensive and nervous regarding their health condition and suffer from the fear of imminent death also require digitalis most. In fact, the extracts from the plant foxglove are used to prepare potent and effectual medications in homeopathy to treat heart conditions discussed above. Dissimilar to several contemporary medications, the homeopathic remedy digitalis obtained from the leaves of the foxglove plant has been widely used for treating heart and circulatory problems for more than two centuries.

Scientific papers published during the later part of the 19th century noted that the homeopathic remedy digitalis possessed the potential to inhibit the pace of the heart as well as increase the heart rate according to the requirement of the patient. The scientists also experimented with digitalis as a diuretic and found that it facilitated in diminishing fluid retention among patients suffering from dropsy or edema. In another experiment, physicians administered digitalis to patients suffering from fevers and found that this homeopathic medication was effective in bringing down the body temperature. It may be mentioned here that fevers are often responsible for very rapid pulse rate.

While scientists have been working on foxglove for quite some time now to identify its therapeutic uses, presently they have a better understanding of this herb. Homeopathic physicians now prescribe digitalis to patients who are susceptible to heart failure and people who have a tendency to arrhythmia’s (any irregularity in the heart beat). In addition, this homeopathic remedy may also be prescribed for children with heart problems to help them to tide over a period till they are old enough to undergo heart surgery.

However, it may be noted that digitalis only possesses mild diuretic properties that are effective to a certain extent. Therefore, when any patient requires a medication only to regulate fluid retention by the body, physicians usually prefer other less toxic medications. The homeopathic remedy digitalis helps to promote the functioning of the heart better probably by getting rid of the excessive fluid retained by the body. Nevertheless, it may be said for certain that digitalis is not the best medication available for treating dropsy or fluid retention by the body and may be used only when any other more effective diuretic is not available to the patient.

The homeopathic remedy digitalis is known to interact with certain medications. Therefore, before you start taking digitalis, it is essential to tell your physician regarding all the other medications, minerals, vitamins or supplements you may be taking for other conditions. Digitalis may interact with certain medications for the heart, for instance, cholesterol lowering medications, anti-arrhythmia drugs and also nitro-glycerin. Even a number of antibiotics are known to interact with digitalis; it is also advisable not to take any anti-fungal medications concurrently with this homeopathic remedy. In addition, when decongestants, antacids, diarrhea medications and antihistamines are taken concurrently with digitalis, it may result in adverse after-effects. If any patient taking the homeopathic remedy digitalis has a cold or a cough, it is advisable that he/ she should consult their physician regarding the most appropriate and safe cold medications that they should take.

Like in the case with any other medication, using the homeopathic remedy digitalis may also result in a number of side effects, including some serious ones. The most common side effects of digitalis may include acute diarrhea, nausea, skin rash and/ or severe visual sensitivity to light. Any patient experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms after taking digitalis should seek emergency medical help as they require the immediate attention of a doctor.

However, there are numerous patients who find digitalis well tolerable and for them, it is one of the most suitable homeopathic medications for treating heart conditions. Along with antibiotics, the homeopathic remedy digitalis is considered to be among the most significant medications that have been developed thus far. This is all the truer since digitalis has helped in increasing the life expectancy of people who need to and ought to use this homeopathic remedy.

Plant Part Used:

Freshly obtained leaves of the foxglove plants are used to prepare the homeopathic remedy digitalis. The leaves are collected just before the plants begin to blossom in their second year of existence. Subsequently, the leaves are cleaned and expressed to obtain their juice. The juice is then blended with alcohol and diluted to the desired level to obtain the homeopathic remedy digitalis. As with preparing any other homeopathic remedy, even digitalis does not retain the slightest trace of the toxic leaves of foxglove.

Therapeutic Properties:

The herb foxglove is known to possess a number of therapeutic properties and is specially used to treat conditions related to the heart and circulatory system. In ancient times, Britons used this herb to cure wounds. While in conventional medicine foxglove is a remedy for heart failure and irregular heartbeat, in homeopathy, digitalis, prepared from the toxic leaves of the foxglove plant, is an important medication to treat heart disorders.

In homeopathy, digitalis is widely used to cure an extremely sluggish pulse or an unbalanced, sporadic pulse that is related to certain conditions and symptoms, such as heart failure, queasiness even at the sight or smell of food, and debility accompanied by a slight, tumbling sensation in the stomach. Heart patients who might be requiring this homeopathic remedy most may also suffer from liver problems, for instance, hepatitis.

Foxglove is the source for the pharmaceutical drug Digoxin that has been widely used in the past to treat cases of congestive heart failure. In homeopathy, digitalis, prepared from the toxic leaves of foxglove, is a very important medication that helps to cure a very sluggish, irregular and sporadic pulse, usually below 60 beats per minute.

Interestingly enough, this homeopathic remedy may also be prescribed for patients who might be suffering from very fast and uneven pulse too. Patients having an irregular and rapid pulse often have a sensation as if the heart would stop beating any moment. The condition of patients enduring angina (any attack of painful spasms marked by sensations of suffocating) actually deteriorates when they exert themselves physically, are very excited and/ or from having sexual intercourse. In such cases, the pain spreads to the left arm resulting in the debility of the arm. Turning to the homeopathic remedy digitalis in such cases, helps to cure the condition as well as provide relief from the associated symptoms.

Patients for whom the homeopathic medication digitalis is most suitable always suffer from a strong fear of death. They are apprehensive that making any movement or even walking may result in their untimely death. They also suffer from nervousness, grief and insomnia owing to the intense pain they endure in the heart. In addition, physical as well as emotional exertions, for instance being disappointed in love and misery may result in palpitations – exceptionally rapid and irregular heart beat. Generally, such patients become all the more sad and melancholic when they listen to music.

The homeopathic remedy digitalis has a vital role to play in curing all ailments that are somehow related to the heart, wherein the pulse is feeble, irregular, sporadic, and exceptionally low as well as when the health conditions are accompanied by dropsy (fluid build up) in the external as well as internal parts of the body. This medication is also effective in curing debility and dilation or expansion of the heart muscles (myocardium). Digitalis is indicated primarily in the case of the collapse of compensation and particularly when auricular fibrillation (very fast awkward contractions of the atria of the heart resulting in a deficiency of harmonization between heartbeat and pulse beat) become entrenched. Such patients experience a sluggish pulse beat when they are lying down, but their pulse beat become erratic and dicrotic (double that of the heart beat) when they are in a sitting posture. In case the patients have recovered from a rheumatic fever, they may also experience auricular flutter (an irregularity of the heartbeat wherein the contractions of the atrium surpass in number those of the ventricle) and auricular fibrillation. Such patients may also have an extremely sluggish pulse and endure heart block.

In homeopathy, digitalis is also a great remedy for organic heart ailments, for instance, extreme debility and a sensation of diminishing strength, vertigo or wooziness, a cold sensation on the skin and erratic respiration. This medication is also beneficial for people who suffer from cardiac tetchiness and visual problems following tobacco use; jaundice caused by induration (hardening of tissues) and hypertrophy (abnormal enlargement) of the liver. People who endure heart diseases accompanied by jaundice would also find digitalis an effective remedy. Patients who require this homeopathic medicine most are those who become unconscious frequently and suffer from a feeling as if they are on the verge of death. Owing to the imbalance in blood circulation to all parts of the body, their appearance often turns bluish. Such patients are inclined to exhaustion even due to trivial physical exertion and may often collapse. Taking the homeopathic medicine digitalis helps to invigorate the muscles of the heart.

Source:

The plant foxglove, which forms the basis for the homeopathic remedy digitalis, is a flowering herb belonging to the family Plantaginaceae. Earlier, foxglove was classified in the family Scrophulariaceae but later included in the larger family Plantaginaceae. This plant species is indigenous to Europe and found growing naturally in most regions of the continent.

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