Squill is a common name for a group of plants that are lily like members of the Asparagaceae family. The Squill of commerce comprises two main species namely Drimia maritima (L.) Stearn also known as Urginea maritima and commonly known as maritime squill, sea onion or red squill and Drimia indica (Roxb.) and Jessop which is commonly known as Indian squill.
Both plants are herbaceous perennials and contain large bulbs up to 20-30 cm in diameter with each bulb bearing dark green, leathery leaves, up to 100 cm long and 12 cm wide. The flowers of Indian squill are greenish brown to somewhat purple in colour whilst those of maritime squill are white but some varieties have red tinted flowers lending to the name Red squill.
Drimia maritima has a long history of use in traditional medicine. . It was used in ancient Greece as a treatment for jaundice, convulsions and asthma. The Greek scholar Theophrastus recommended its use as a rat poison as unlike most other animals rats seem deterred from eating it. This is because of its extremely bitter taste which induces vomiting. The plant has also been historically used as an insect repellent.
In more recent times maritime squill has been used as an expectorant, emetic, diuretic and cardio tonic to regulate heart rhythm and it is a common ingredient of cough mixtures. For example Squill Oxymel and Squill Tincture are respective ingredients in the Herbal Mucus Cough Syrup and Chesty Cough Mixture (Mentholated) products from the Covonia range of liquid medicines marketed by Thornton & Ross. The plant also has additional cardiovascular properties that include reducing left ventricular diastolic pressure, and reducing pathologically elevated venous pressure.
Official liquid preparations include Squill Liquid Extract BPC 1973, Squill Tincture BPC 1973, Squill Vinegar BPC 1973, Ipecacuanha and Squill Linctus, Opiate (Paediatric) BPC 1973, Squil Oxymel BP and Squill Elixir BP 1980. Squill oxymel is basically a preparation containing honey and Vinegar of Squill with the latter prepared by macerating the plant material in aqueous acetic acid. They function as cardiac glycosides by exhibiting positive inotropic and negative chronotropic effects on the cardiac muscle. This is believed to be accomplished by inhibition of Na+/K+ – ATPase in the cardiac muscle by the bufadienolides.
Ransom Naturals Ltd manufacture several herbal drug preparations containing squill. These are SQ/01 – Squill Aqueous Soft Extract (Indian squill), SQ/02 – Squill Aqueous Soft Extract (Italian squill), SQ/05 – Solution for Making Squill Elixir BP1980, SQ/11 – Squill Liquid Extract BP, SQ/14 – Squill 65% Alcoholic Soft Extract, SQ/15 – EFM Squill Liquid Extract BP, SQ/16 – EFM Squill Tincture BP, SQ/25 – Squill Vinegar for oxymel, SQ/27 – SFM Squill Oxymel BP, SQ/28 – Squill Oxymel BP
The active constituents of Squill are bufadienolides based mainly on the aglycone scillaridin A. The principal glycosides are scillarin A (1) and proscillaridn A (2). They contain a triterpenoid skeleton which is steroidal in structure.
Ransom Nautrals Ltd. has chemical manufacturing controls to control the quality of raw material input and herbal drug preparation.