Scilla-Squill.-The sliced and dried bulb of Urginea Scilla. From the Mediterranean coasts.

Characters.-Bulb pear-shaped, weighing from half a pound to ten pounds; outer scales membranous, brownish-red or white; inner scales thick, whitish, fleshy, juicy; taste mucilaginous, intensely and disagreeably bitter, somewhat acrid. The dried slices are white or yellowish-white, slightly translucent, scentless, disagreeably bitter; brittle, and easily pulverisable if very dry, but if exposed readily recovering moisture and flexibility.

Substance resembling Scilla: Tragacanth, which is more horny.

Composition.-Squill contains, besides the usual constituents of plants, an active bitter glucoside scilla'in. Another substance called Scillitin is really but an extract of variable strength and properties.

Dose, in powder.-1 to 3 gr.

Preparations. 1. Acetum Scillae.-1 in 8. Lose, 15 to 40 min.

From Acetum Scillae are prepared: a. Oxymel Scillae.-5 of the Acetum with 8 of Honey.

Dose, 1/2 to 1 fl.dr.

b. Syrupus Scillae.-1 of the Acetum with 2 of Sugar.

Dose, 1/2 to 1 fl.dr.

2. Pilula Scillae Composita

Pilula Scillae Composita. Squill, 1 1/4 ; Ginger, 1; Ammoniacum, 1 ; Hard Soap, 1; Treacle, 2. Dose, 5 to 10 gr.

3. Pilula Ipecapuanhae Cum Scilla

Pilula Ipecapuanhae Cum Scilla. 1 in 7. Dose, 5 to 10 gr.

4. Tinctura Scillae

Tinctura Scillae. 1 in 8. Dose, 15 to 30 min.

Action And Uses

The action of this important drug so closely resembles that of digitalis, that it is unnecessary to give it in detail. The student is therefore referred to all that is said respecting digitalis (page 310), and will apply it to squill. Briefly, it produces the same increase of vigour and diminution of frequency of the cardiac action; the same contraction of the peripheral vessels and rise of pressure, followed by relaxation commencing in the renal arterioles; and therefore the same kind of diuresis.

Squill is employed in the same class of cases as digitalis, most frequently in combination with this drug, diuretics being most active when given together. It must not however be given continuously, but with occasional intermissions, when it is more actively diuretic and less irritant to the stomach and kidney.

Two properties, however, distinguish squill from digitalis, and have to be carefully observed:

1. Squill is much more irritant to the stomach and intestines than digitalis, causing vomiting and purging in full doses, and very liable to produce dyspepsia even in medicinal quantities. It is thus a drug which must often be withheld when most clearly indicated, one of the first principles of therapeutics being never to derange the stomach.

2. Squill is a powerful expectorant. This action is probably a remote local one, the scillain stimulating the bronchial wall during excretion, as it irritates the gastro-intestinal wall during absorption, in this respect resembling ipecacuanha (emetin) and senegin. It is much employed as a stimulant expectorant in bronchitis, when the indication is to increase the local circulation and secretion, and accelerate the removal of the products. It is therefore suitable for chronic cases, especially if the right ventricle be secondarily affected, as it strengthens the heart and promotes diuresis. It is contra-indicated in acute bronchitis, in interesting contrast to ipecacuanha (see Ipecacuanha, page 267); and must also be withheld when the stomach is feeble or deranged, as in phthisis. The routine use of squill for all kinds of cough is to be deprecated.

Convallaria.-The entire plant of Convallaria majalis, the Lily of the Valley. {Not Officinal.)

Characters.-Leaves radical, usually two, oblong, tapering at both ends, 4 to 6 inches long. Flower stem leafless, radical, shorter than the leaves. Flowers drooping, bell-shaped, in a loose raceme.

Composition.-Lily of the valley contains two glucosides, convallarin, crystalline, insoluble in water; and convallamarin, white, amorphous, bitter, and soluble in water and in spirit.

Non-officinal Preparations.

Extract of Convallaria.-Aqueous. Dose, 2 to 8 gr. Convallamarin.-Dose, 1/2 to 2 gr. An Infusion may also be used.

Action And Uses

Convallaria has an action very similar to that of squill and digitalis, the active principles of which are also glucosides. In medicinal doses it slows and strengthens the heart, raises the blood pressure, and is a decided diuretic. It has proved remarkably useful in some cases of cardiac dropsy. At the same time it is a gastro-intestinal irritant like squill, this effect being due to the convallarin, whilst the convallamarin acts on the circulation. Aqueous preparations, or the pure convallamarin, should therefore be given.