A case of intoxication with tea made from Digitalis purpurea

Anouk Lehmann, Selina Späni, Annette Harings-Kaim, Cecilia Probst, Andreas Christ, Anne B Leuppi-Taegtmeyer

Abstract


We present the case of a 34-year-old woman with recurrent depressive disorder who ingested purple foxglove with suicidal intent. She bought a foxglove plant (Digitalis purpurea) over the internet and used all of its leaves to make a tea that she then drank over a period of a few hours. Seventeen hours later, she developed abdominal pain, emesis and bradycardia and was admitted via the emergency department to the intensive care unit for further treatment and monitoring. The plasma digoxin concentration measured 3.53 nmol/l (therapeutic reference range 0.77-1.50 nmol/l) 21 hours after ingestion of the tea. She remained heamodynamically and neurologically stable, was treated with antiemetics and simple analgesia and did not require digoxin-specific antibodies. Despite normal renal function, her plasma digoxin half-life was prolonged (estimated 76 h), reflecting the long half-life of the parent compound digitoxin which is the main cardiac glycoside in Digitalis purpurea. She was transferred to psychiatric care 48 h after admission. In this report, we compare this case to other similar cases, which to date have only been rarely reported in the literature.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21542/gcsp.2021.2

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Copyright (c) 2021 Anouk Lehmann, Selina Späni, Annette Harings-Kaim, Cecilia Probst, Andreas Christ, Anne B Leuppi-Taegtmeyer

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