The clinical use of digitalis has proved one of the greatest problems of medicine and, despite the advances made in our knowledge of the pharmacology of this group, the problem has been advanced only, not solved, and there are few practitioners who can invariably distinguish the toxic action of digitalis from the symptoms of cardiac disease.
The difficulties in the way of the therapeutic use of the digitalis bodies depend on several factors. In the first place, we have no definite knowledge of the rate of absorption of these bodies from the alimentary tract, and this knowledge is the first requisite for correct dosage by the mouth. In the next place, we know little or nothing of the rate of excretion and destruction in the body, and these facts are also of prime importance. Furthermore, except for the well-known vagus stimulation, we do not know whether they act directly on
HATCHER RA, BAILEY HC. THE CLINICAL USE OF STROPHANTHUS. JAMA. 1910;55(20):1697–1701. doi:10.1001/jama.1910.04330200007002