The herb Foxglove could be used as a drug to protect against high blood pressure and heart failure.
Foxglove has been used since the 13th century to cleanse wounds, and Native Americans brewed its dry leaves to treat the leg swelling caused by heart problems.
Now, researchers at the University of Michigan Health System have found that foxglove can enhance the body’s own protective mechanism against high blood pressure and heart failure.
Writing in the journal Molecular Pharmacology, the scientists explained that digoxin, the active ingredient in digitalis or Foxglove, is the reason behind the herb’s pharmaceutical benefits.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, puts a strain on your arteries and heart, putting you at risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Treatment of hypertension varies depending on the severity of the condition. Lifestyle changes are usually recommended for all sufferers of high blood pressure, including cutting your salt intake, eating a healthy diet, being active and losing weight.
The most current medical treatments for the condition prevent excess hormone and stress signals that can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure.
But recent studies have found that the body has the ability to keep excess stimulation in check through the protection of particular proteins, called RGS proteins.
Dr Rick Neubig said: 'Low dose digoxin, the active ingredient of digitalis, was able to increase RGS2 levels in the heart and kidney.’
Time will tell to see if the active ingredient in Foxglove can be used within a drug to treat high blood pressure across the UK.
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