Active Ingredients. - When prepared for employment in medicine, the bulb of the squill is cut into slices. These, clammy while recent, become, when dried, brittle and slightly translucent, and are easily pulverized; but, if exposed to the air, they recover moisture, and become flexible. The scent is feeble; the taste is disagreeable, mucilaginous, strongly bitter, and somewhat acrid.

Squill is said to yield its active principles alike to water, to acetic acid, and to alcohol.

It must be allowed that the active ingredients of squill are not yet thoroughly understood. A bitter stuff, scillitine, soluble in hot water, and a resinous, very acrid body, soluble in alcohol, which is probably the same as that mentioned by Maudet under the name of Sculline, unquestionably divide between them the powers of squill, but there are great contradictions among different experimenters. It is still quite doubtful whether scillitine is or is not the diuretic principle, and also whether (as Schroff thought) it is also a direct narcotic poison in large doses. It seems, at any rate, evident that the resin is the source of the phenomena of irritant poisoning exhibited in inflammation of the alimentary canal, etc. Whether also diuretic, is not decided.

Physiological Action. - The principal action of squill appears to be exerted upon the lining membrane of the excretory organs, particularly the bronchial, the urinary, and the gastro-intestinal. Upon the urinary apparatus the operation is very marked. As a rule, it produces, in the first place, some degree of strangury, and, as a secondary effect, a profuse secretion of water. Should it fail to act upon the kidneys, it often causes perspiration. In full medicinal doses, squill excites nausea and vomiting, and not unfrequently, purging; and in excessive doses it becomes poisonous. Considered with reference to its diuretic powers, squill is sometimes compared with digitalis; but in its primary action it is more stimulating to the kidneys, while, in regard to the general tonic and sedative effects of foxglove, it is less energetic.

Therapeutic Action. - As a Diuretic, squill is a valuable medicine, and is administered either in the recent state or in the dry. The dose of the former is from 5 to 15 grains; and of the latter, from 1 to 3 grains; the smaller quantity being used at first, morning and evening, in the form of a pill, and the dose being gradually increased until the diuretic effects have come to pass. By some practitioners it has been recommended to be given in an amount sufficient to induce nausea; but this is very hurtful to the patient, as well as distressing, and, when practised, frequently compels the discontinuance of a medicine of undoubted utility, since, if once the stomach rebels, it is seldom that squills can be again administered. Combined with mercury, the effects of squill, as a diuretic, are sometimes materially increased. The combination in question is particularly adapted to cases of dropsy which depend upon enlargement or other affections of the liver, or which are directly connected therewith. When the mercurial preparations induce purging, the diuretic action of the squill will be suspended. This result must be obviated either by substituting friction with mercurial ointment, or by the employment of counteracting medicines. (A favorite diuretic pill of Prof. A. Clark, of New York, is composed of one grain each of squill, digitalis, and calomel.)

As an Expectorant, squill is employed most beneficially in cases where there is an increased secretion of pulmonary mucus, and is supposed to operate by promoting absorption, diminishing the quantity of fluid effused, and thus facilitating the expectoration of the remainder.

In Whooping-cough, particularly when attended by troublesome emesis, and although the effects of the drug as an emetic are sometimes distressing; we are still called upon to employ squill, seeking, if possible, to keep its emetic action aloof, and endeavoring to secure the full exercise of its tonic power. In coughs, with tickling in the throat, it is best to employ either syrup or vinegar of squill.

In Chronic Bronchitis, when occurring in debilitated patients, and attended by very profuse loose expectoration of a mucous or muco-puru-lent character, I have always resorted to squill with great success.

Preparations and Dose. - Pulvis Scillae, gr. ss. - ij. (.03 - .12);

Acetum Scillae, m v. - xx. (.30 - 1.20), Syrupus Scilae, 3 ss. - j. (2. - 4.).