The medicinal power of Chinese foxglove

Chinese foxglove is a low growing plant with red-purple flowers that naturally occurs in China, Japan and Korea. Chinese foxglove is one of the 50 most commonly used herbs in Chinese medicine. Many of its traditional medicinal uses have been confirmed by modern science. Chinese foxglove contains more than 70 active medicinal substances and has, among other things, anti-inflammatory activities. It acts on the cardiovascular system, nervous system, immune system and system of glands of internal secretion. The medicinal properties of this plant have not all been scientifically confirmed. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.


  • Traditional use
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Chinese foxglove in autoimmune diseases
  • Uses in Chinese folk medicine
  • Dose and safety
  • Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Traditional use

The root of Chinese foxglove has traditionally been used in traditional folk medicine to treat absence of menstruation and excessive menstrual bleeding. This medicinal herb is also used for anemia and is used as a folk medicine for dizziness, asthma, kidney problems, urinary tract disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, hives, tinnitus, deafness and weakness. In addition, it is good for the bones, increases fertility and, together with licorice, is considered by Chinese doctors as a remedy for hepatitis. In China, the root of rehmannia has already been used to treat diabetes. These and many other applications of Chinese medicine have been scientifically confirmed and adopted by Western, science-based phytotherapy.


In Latin, Chinese foxglove is called Rehmannia glutinosa . Rehmannia is a name given to honor the German explorer Joseph Rehmann (1753-1831). Joseph Rehmann was a physician and botanist from Saint Petersburg. Glutinosa means ‘very sticky’, which is a property of the root.

Active substances

The root of Chinese foxglove is used for phytotherapeutic purposes. It contains the following active substances: iridoid glycosides such as aucubine, catalpol, ajugol, rehmanniosides AD, rehmaglutin AD and jioglutosides. It also contains other glycosides, including jionasides or phenethyl alcohol glycosides. In English this plant is known as Chinese foxglove.

Chinese foxglove in autoimmune diseases

Chinese foxglove has an anti-inflammatory effect. In addition, it has immunosuppressive properties; it reduces an overreaction of the immune system. This property is especially useful in autoimmune diseases. Allergic conditions can also be prevented in this way. Chinese foxglove supports the adrenal cortex and it produces the hormone cortisol; that ensures the medicinal effect of this medicinal plant. In phytotherapy it is used for:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis,
  • Lupus or red, blotchy skin on the face,
  • Chronic nephritis or kidney inflammation.
  • Asthma,
  • Urticaria or hives.

Uses in Chinese folk medicine

Chinese foxglove promotes the recovery of the adrenal cortex. The body’s own adrenal cortex is suppressed by introducing foreign corticoids into the body, such as with chemotherapy. In Chinese folk medicine, Chinese foxglove is used to:

Rehmannia glutinosa / Source: Dragonscale, Wikimedia Commons (GFDL)

  • To drive away fever,
  • to stop bleeding,
  • to treat diabetes,
  • Cure rashes.

Dose and safety

An extract of 250mg is made from the root of Chinese foxglove. This is taken one to three times a day. The extract consists of 1% glutamic acid.

  • At the therapeutic dose, Chinese foxglove is a safe herb and can be taken for a long time without side effects.
  • Just like licorice, this medicinal plant is used for the adrenal gland. In contrast to licorice, Chinese foxglove has a healing effect on the adrenal gland without side effects.
  • Patients who have undergone a transplant and are taking immunosuppressants should not use this medicinal plant.

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Much of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Groot Handboek Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a handbook in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who suffers from something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best remedies, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.