Herbs in History: Hawthorn & Foxglove

May 24, 2023

In an effort to preserve and share the fascinating histories of medicinal plants and herbs that have been used around the world for ages, the AHPA Foundation for Education and Research on Botanicals (AHPA-ERB Foundation) is honored to partner with Alain Touwaide, Ph.D., and Emanuela Appetiti of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions to tell the stories of Herbs in History.

The histories of hawthorn and foxglove are explored next. Preview the entries below and visit Herbs in History online to read more.

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)

Mysteries of a Tree

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) is well known, as either a single, majestic almost sovereign high tree in vast open pieces of grassland or lower hedgerows that cuts the landscape in the countryside as a jigsaw puzzle or orderly rhythm rural towns gardens and orchards. Despite this presence in the environment and its familiarity—and also its current reputation as The plant for the heart—, it entered pharmacopoeia only recently if we consider the long-term history, having been mysterious for centuries. | Read more...

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea L.)

The Making of a Medicinal Plant

The history of Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea L. [Plantaginaceae]) is well known at first glance. In 1785, the British physician William Withering (1741-1799) published An account of the foxglove and some of its medical uses; with practical remarks on the dropsy, and some other diseases (Birmingham: Swinney). As the story goes, Withering knew of a healer who successfully treated cases of dropsy by administering an herbal tea to her patients. He went to know the plants that were used to prepare tea and discovered later that the major active ingredient was Digitalis. Thanks to its cardio-tonic action, Foxglove was increasing cardiac activity and, as a consequence, drained the body. | Read more...

About the Project

Herbs in History is made possible by funding from the AHPA-ERB Foundation, as part of the nonprofit foundation's mission promote education and research on medicinal, therapeutic, and health-promoting herbs. Tune in monthly for thoughtfully detailed historical accounts of herbs you know and love, and learn more about the origins of medicinal plants that have stood the test of time.




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