Scientific Name(S): European or white squill (Urginea maritima L. Baker); Indian squill (U. indica Kunth.). Commercial samples of Indian squill are often mixtures of U. indica and Scilla indica Roxb. Red squill (u. maritima var. pancratium Stein Baker). Referred to in some texts as U. scilla Steinh. Family: Liliaceae
Common Name(S): European squill, Mediterranean squill, white squill, Indian squill, red squill, sea onion, sea squill
Squill is a perennial herb that is native to the Mediterranean. It often grows in sandy soil. Squill have narrow leaves and most flower in the spring. Flowers are usually blue, but white and pink species also exist. The plants are best grown in large, bold plantings in light shade. The bulbous portion of the base is harvested and the dried inner scales of the bulb are used. White squill has sometimes been adulterated by the inclusion of Indian squill.
Squill is an herbal medicine used to treat asthma and other breathing problems, such as whooping cough. It may also be used to increase (make more) urine flow and improve heart functioning. Squill may also cause vomiting (throwing up).
Squill has been used in hair tonics treating seborrhea and dandruff, as a cancer remedy, and as a rodenticide.
Side effects related to squill include vomiting and convulsions.
Some varieties of squill have been known for more than a thousand years to be effective rodenticides. In man, extracts of the bulb have been used as a cardiotonic for the treatment of edema, as an expectorant, and as an emetic. Today it continues to find use as an expectorant in some commercial cold preparations. Due to the popularity of the digitalis glycosides, squill components are rarely used as cardioactive agents.
Squill contains several related steroidal cardioactive glycosides. Those found in the greatest concentration in the bulb include scillaren A and proscillaridin A (the aglycone of both is scillarenin). In addition, glucoscillaren A, scillaridin A, and scilliroside have been characterized. In one study, the most common components identified in dried bulbs were scilliroside (appr. 45 ppm) and scillaren A (appr. 38 ppm); others have found proscillaridin A in the greatest concentration. Scillaren B has been used to describe a mixture of squill glycosides as opposed to pure scillaren A. Squill bulbs contain more than a dozen unique flavonoids. Components of squill tissue cultures appear to vary significantly in quantitative composition from whole bulb extracts. Further, the extracts from fresh bulbs can very significantly by season.
Squill and its extracts have been used for centuries in medicine and as a rat poison. White squillcontinues to find use in some traditional medicine preparations for its digitalis-like cardiotonic effects, although this use is almost extinct. Squill extracts do continue to find some use in low doses as expectorants. Red squill is used as a rodenticide, causing death via a centrallyinduced convulsant action.
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