Could Foxgloves be the Cure for Sweet Itch?
Hi, Your help is needed to source a supply of dried Foxglove – Digitalis purpurea. After reading an article recommending Foxgloves as a cure for Sweet Itch on an equine health site, I decided to try them on my pony who suffers from Sweet Itch every summer. As I work and live in outer London, finding a source of fresh foxgloves was simply impossible.
Where can I get dried Foxglove? How much dried Foxglove do I need for the recipe?
The recipe: “First of all go out and find some foxgloves; as many as you can as the lotion will keep, Make sure when you make the lotion that you use the whole plant, flowers, leaves, stem and roots, put into a very large pan, like a jam pan, cover and bring to boil and then simmer for 3-4 hours to get all the properties from the plant. The ‘foxglove’ lotion should be put on and brushed well in for about 3 days, all down the mane, top of tail, and along its back if necessary, and then repeat when necessary, obviously if you have a lot of rain it will wash off so will need re-applying, it can be put on open wounds, where the pony has scratched itself raw, the foxglove lotion does not stop the normal flies very much, it works in the mane, tail and coat where the midges go in to actually bite and suck blood, that is when it is effective, it kills them, if you want to use fly spray as well that is O.K. ”
Please help, I am desperate to try this cure – Lisa Wingfield
Thank God you were unable to source a dried or fresh supply, as Foxglove is an extremely dangerous herb. Foxglove – Digitalis Purpurea is a prescription only (PO) herbal medicine restricted to use by medical doctors. Current EU & UK law restricts registered herbalists and herbal suppliers from selling or prescribing the herb.
Foxglove can be a dangerous herb in very low dosages of a few drops. A large preserving (jam) pan containing 5 to 10 litres of decoction would be a lethal dose. The known active ingredients in Foxglove are four cardiac glucosides that will stimulate the heart and rapidly increase blood pressure, resulting in tremors, palpitations and a heart attack.
During my 30 years in herbal medicine, I have never come across the use of Foxgloves for skin complaints in animals or humans. After reading your email, I searched my extensive database and reference library on medicinal herbs. The only reference was in Culpepers for clearing green wounds (pus ridden Staph sores) and the Kings evil (syphilis) by binding fresh bruised green leaves to the wound.
Sweet Itch is not caused by bacterial invasion, it is an allergic reaction to midge bites. By washing your horse in a strong decoction of Foxgloves you would poison him. The decoction of Foxgloves would be absorbed through the coat into the blood stream and over stimulate the heart.
Fly repellents and washes usually contain aromatic oils that give off strong repellent aromas to repel and often kill biting midges. Foxgloves do not contain aromatic oils for warding off midges. This shows the dangerous often fatal consequences of following the advice of unqualified persons dabbling in herbs.