Medicinal herbs for the heart exert notable actions on this all-important organ. Those herbs which augment the strength of the heart contractions (called cardiotonic herbs), the foxglove plant being the most important, are especially appreciated.
Besides strengthening, herbs for the heart contribute in a decisive way to the prevention of severe heart conditions, such as angina pectoris and heart attacks.
Cardiotonic herbs are divided into two groups:
- Of the foxglove type: Those whose active components are glycosides similar to those of the actual foxglove plant. They have an intense cardiotonic action and must be administered with extreme caution because the toxic dose is quite close to the therapeutic dose.
- Non-foxglove type: These herbs improve heart functions, though they do not contain glycosides similar to those of foxglove. They may be administered without as much caution as with those of the former group. Cardiotonic herbs and diuretic ones are the basis for the phytotherapeutic treatment of heart insufficiency (inability of the heart to fulfill its role of blood pumping).