European Squill-Urginea maritima (L.) Baker (Scilla maritima L.) family Liliaceae

2.3.3.1 European Squill
Synonyms Sea, onion, Bulbus Scillae; Meerzweibel, White Squill, Squill bulb; Scila.
Biological Source European squill is the fleshy inner bulb scales of the white variety of Urginea maritima (L.) Baker (Scilla maritima L.) belonging to family Liliaceae.
Geographical Source It is found to be indigenous to those countries located near the Mediterranean region, such as: France, Malta, Italy, Greece, Spain, Algeria and Morocco.
Preparation Normally the white squill yields fully grown and healthy bulbs that have a height ranging between 18-20 cm and a diameter varying between 12-15 cm. These bulbs are grown in partially submerged condition in sandy soil in the mediterranean coastal region. The bulbs are usually collected in late August soonafter the flowering season. The roots and the thin external scaly layers are removed and discarded. While the central fleshly bulbs are collected separately. These bulbs are then cut into transverse slices and subsequently dried either in sun rays or by artificial heating devices.
Description
Colour : White; Whitish yellow;
Taste : Bitter and gummy;
Size : Length = 3.5-5 cm; Width = 5-8 mm; Thickness = 2-5 mm;
Shape : Available as strips with tapering both ends.
Chemical Constituents Squill has the following glycosides, namely:
Glucoscillaren A = Scillarenin + Rhamnose + Glucose + Glucose;
Scillaren A = Scillarenin + Rhamnose + Glucose;
Proscillaridin A = Scillarenin + Rhamnose.
Scillaridin A; Scilliglaucoside; Scillipheoside; Glucoscillipheoside; Scillicyanoside. The structures of these glycosides are as shown below:

In addition to the above cardiac glycosides, the drug also comprises of flavonoids, calcium oxalate, xanthoscillide, sinistrin (an inulin like carbohydrate) and an irritation causing volatile component.
The following flowchart evidemtly illustrates the various steps involved in the acidic and
enzymatic hydrolysis of Scillaren A as shown below.
Stoll was first to separate the two glycosides from squil bulbs and named them as Scillaren A and Scillaren B. They have the following characteristic features.
Chemical Test Scillaren A on interaction with acetic anhydride and H2SO4, it gives rise to a red colour which changes gradually first to blue and finally to bluish green colour.


Characteristics of Scillaren A and Scillaren B
Uses
1. It is a potent cardiotonic without having any cumulative effect (unlike Digitalis).
2. It is mostly employed in small doses as an effective expectorant specially in chronic bronchitis.
3. It causes emesis in relatively higher doses.
4. The squill glycosides usually produce copious diuresis.
5. By virtue of the fact that the squill glycosides possess high therapeutic index and rapid elimination they invariably maintain compensation in such patients where a prolonged treatment is required.

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