Digitalis purpurea occurs throughout the greater part of Europe, being, however, generally absent from limestone districts. It was used in domestic medicine in early days, and by the Welsh (see note, page 8) as an external medicine. Fuchs (252) and Tragus (650), 1542, pictured the plant, but remarked that it was a violent medicine. Parkinson (492) commended it in 1640, and it was investigated in 1776-9 by Withering (693), through whose efforts it was introduced into licensed medicine. Digitalis was originally employed as a remedy in fevers, in which direction it is no longer used. In 1799, J. Ferriar (233), of Manchester, England, contributed a treatise concerning the medicinal uses of this drug, which was also described by Withering (693), Bosch (89), Moore (450), and other authors of that period. At present it is largely valued for its poisonous action and is by some standardized by its physiological qualities when injected into the veins of lower animals, the United States Government having issued a bulletin on the subject.
The Eclectic uses of Digitalis are based on its kindly influence, instead of its poisonous action, the aim being to avoid heart shock. Consequently the Eclectic Specific Medicine Digitalis has not the physiological poisonous action that bases the old school drug valuation.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.