STROPHANTHIN – A BLESSING FOR CARDIOLOGY
Strophanthin, which was known and rightly celebrated just a few years ago as 'insulin for cardiac patients', is now in dire straits and has nearly been forgotten. The specialist is astonished and the layman wonders – this could be the title of this very unique 'strophanthin case'...
Yet it refers to one of the greatest scandals in the history of German medicine, when a natural and side-effect-free herbal substance named 'strophanthin' enjoyed a glorious ascent only to reach a precipitous end a short time later, despite clearly proven and quite sensational positive effects on heart diseases and cardiac insufficiency (No.1 cause of death in developed countries!) the likes of which the medical field had never seen.
Let's start from the beginning
We're writing in the year 1859. A certain Dr. Kirk is travelling through Africa and the seed of the strophanthus plant, of all things, contaminates his toothbrush, whereupon his heart problems quickly improve, to his amazement (it is bizarre that it should be this substance, as the natives still use it for their poison-tipped arrows!). The swift improvement of his condition prompted Dr. Kirk to take strophanthin to Europe. This is how strophanthin reached the European continent and was made available for scientific research.
However, it would be another 26 years before, in 1885, a British doctor named Thomas Fraser researched the therapeutic value of g-strophanthin, a herbal substance, in the seed of the native African climbing shrub with the botanical name of 'Strophanthus gratus', and introduced it to clinics in the form of a tincture by the name of 'Tinctura Strophanthi'. In 1893 the 'Tinctura Strophanthi' was officially recorded in the German Pharmacopoeia.
Strophanthin is systematically used for the first time by Professor Albert Fraenkel in Germany, who verified extremely successful healing cases with this natural substance.
Because some people were not as tolerant of the oral form of strophanthin (also often referred to as 'ouabain') at the time, but studies were very promising, it was decided that strophanthin would simply be administered intravenously.
Between 1905-1950, the intravenous form of strophanthin was a leading medication in German cardiology (heart medicine), the prophylactic and therapeutic effects of it on heart symptoms, especially in the treatment of angina pectoris and prevention of heart attack, were in fact incomparable with anything else – it was quite affordable and without notable side effects or interactions at that! The cardiac glycoside g-strophanthin was a standard treatment in every German clinic that treated cardiac insufficiency until the early 1970s. Could the increasing rate of deaths due to circulatory diseases in recent decades be explained by the fact that the popularity of strophanthin was killed off?
The statistics from Dr. Berthold Kern, who analysed strophanthin treatment in around 15,000 patients over 40 years, with the result that, after consistent administration of strophanthin (ouabain), there was not one single death from heart attack, are especially promising and representative; yet, without strophanthin, there would have been, rounded up, 130 cases of death!
The number of reinfarctions sank from 530 to a tremendous 20 cases less severe in nature, and none of these reinfarctions were fatal.
Resistance of 'Big Pharma' and academic medicine
Things came to their inevitable end in the same way many other potentially highly effective natural treatments have: strophanthin had become its own worst enemy because of its incredible effectiveness! Loudly praised by academic medicine just a few years ago, 'Big Pharma' recognised its own goal very quickly: strophanthin was doing what patients wanted and what cured them, or at least alleviated symptoms and prevented infarctions!
Yet in doing so, it was replacing countless heart medications that were lucrative for the pharmaceutical industry, and made the many operations in which academic medicine had a significant share practically redundant!
In a poll of 3,650 doctors in the year 1984, 98 % of them reported that strophanthin (ouabain) is extremely effective. The remaining 2 % attested limited effectiveness to strophanthin. None of the 3,650 doctors, i.e. 0 %, questioned the effectiveness in the poll!
Another characteristic that spoke against strophanthin is its low price. 1 vial in the 1990s cost 1.00 deutschmark! And only about 10-15 injections are needed to achieve a satisfactory result. The commonly administered ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and calcium antagonists are far more expensive in comparison. Yet because their effects are more pronounced in their side effects rather than actually helping the patient, it simply made no sense to the influential 'Big Pharma' to replace these profitable medications with one single, less profitable medication that actually helped!
'Big Pharma', which was fearing for its survival, backpedalled and revised its positive remarks about strophanthin in countless former studies only to release new, questionable 'studies' that disparage the exact same medication that they had praised most highly just a few years prior!
This resistance was in the interests of academic medicine as well, because strophanthin ultimately threatened its own existence, as a doctor makes their living from diseases, not treatments!
Furthermore, the assumed effect mechanism of strophanthin (destabilising the metabolism in the left heart muscle) contradicted the applied heart attack hypothesis in which the heart attack is caused by arterial construction (arterial clogging of the coronary vessels). Other very interesting details can be found at:
Because the immense effectiveness has been seen (experienced) in thousands of patients but not understood, science – as evidenced by its origins in the Latin word for 'knowledge', not 'experience' – would not deign to tolerate that it has not understood anything. The vain and corrupt medical profession, among them leading professors, hoisted the flag of 'Big Pharma' and became emphatically involved in the enormous smear campaigns against strophanthin. In the modern medical profession, it is downright taboo to even utter the word 'strophanthin', as it has long been frowned upon!
The unending fight over strophanthin stretched across decades. Members of the International Society for Fighting Infarction, supporters of strophanthin engaged in actual fights with obstinate representatives of the conservative medical establishment, even in front of television cameras during an airing of 'Report' in 1976. The enemies' strategy was always the same: Either they were silent on the positive effects of strophanthin, or according to Prof. Schettler, they obligated influential representatives of academic medicine to aggressively blow the battle horn – both were very efficient, but the resistance would not yield.
Thankfully there is still a score of doctors who earn their title and have sworn the Hippocratic oath out of their deepest conviction for humanity, and not for their own wallet or the pharmaceutical industry. These doctors continue to fight, albeit less organised than in the 1970s, to make strophanthin accessible to every cardiac patient. For example in Germany alone, 2,000-3,000 doctors still administer oral g-strophanthin, particularly to prevent and treat angina pectoris and heart attack.
Absurdly, one side maintains the mistaken claim that oral g-strophanthin is virtually ineffective because of insufficient resorption, while the other side calls for approval of the medication, and in order to secure the monopoly on the 'oh so ineffective medication' and to control it (so it does not fall into the hands of homoeopaths and natural practitioners), g-strophanthin was promptly subjected to prescription requirements by the other side.
Make of that what you will!
The doctor's dilemma
A doctor must be highly conversant in the things that go on behind the scenes in order to prescribe a medication that, according to the current ('adjusted') textbooks, allegedly does not work. It is all the more difficult to find a loyal and responsible doctor who will prescribe strophanthin to you. In the 'Strophanthin doctors' section, you will see a precise list of these doctors who know better than established academic medicine...
Furthermore, the decision to make strophanthin a prescription medication was justified by 'fluctuations in resorption' (absorption by the body), which was in turn based on one single study. Specifically, the resorption distribution came about through scientifically unreasonable studies in which the strophanthin was administered once before and once after eating, which would of course result in different resorption curves.
For an example of some aspects of this topical issue of strophanthin, refer to this quote from Prof. Udo Köhler:
'By taking 1 capsule of Strodival mr® twice a day [editor's note: oral, stomach-resistant form of strophanthin], I have been able to rid myself of the pain of a treatment-resistant case of the most severe coronary sclerosis with angina pectoris, post-heart attack, which was given up on by a renowned heart clinic and not without reason, and have been enjoying this pain-free condition for months.
Yet this solves one of the most urgent problems of modern practical medicine, the connection between old medical knowledge with usage of the latest fundamental research and technology, and every doctor has finally been given an effective weapon in the fight against coronary heart death.
To point out the national significance of these circulatory diseases would be like carrying coals to Newcastle. But maybe those responsible will think about how many millions of deutschmarks could be saved every year if the emphasis in the fight against heart attack was placed in the hands of practical doctors and internists'.
True words! The case described ultimately reflects just one of many examples of various cures for so-called 'hopeless cases'. The last section, unfortunately, clashes with the mindset and function of lobbying within politics.
On top of that, there are the specialist journalists who are not afraid to report the successes of strophanthin to this day.
For example, the renowned British publication International Journal of Clinical Practice published a review article in November 2010 with the title 'Ouabain – the insulin for the heart' about the remarkable treatment successes. You can find a short preview of this article at:
The section 'Strophanthin studies' highlights this statement with representative studies of thousands of patients for the unmatched effectiveness of strophanthin with as good as no notable side effects.
Interestingly, there are even newer studies on this topic, e.g. one from March 2010. Is there hope that strophanthin will get the appreciation it deserves, albeit belatedly? This remains to be seen, because the opposition is strong and strophanthin is simply an obstacle to billions in profits!
 Other very interesting details can be found at:
 Prof. Udo Köhler: Schach dem Herzinfarkt (Checkmate for heart attack), published in: Zeitschrift für Allgemeinmedizin (Journal of General Medicine), 1976, 52, p. 1103 f.