Indian Squill-Urginbea indica Kunth; belonging to the family Liliaceae

2.3.3.2 Indian Squill
Synonyms Scilla; Sea onion; Jangli Pyaj; Urginae.
Biological Source Indian squill comprises of the dried slices of the bulbs of Urginbea indica Kunth; belonging to the family Liliaceae.
Geographical Source It is grown in India along the sea coasts of Konkan and Saurashtra; and also on the dry hills of the lower Himalayan range located at an altitude of 1500 meters.
Preparation The method of preparation of dried slices of Indian squill is very much alike the
European squill. It loses approximately 80% of its weight after sun drying.
Description
Colour : Yellowish to White
Odour : Slight and characteristic
Taste : Acrid, bitter and mucilaginous
Size : Length = 30-60 cm; Breadth = 3-8 mm
Shape : Usually 4 to 8 slices are placed one on the top of other and gives it a curved shape.
Characteristic Features
1. It has an overall diameter of 15 cm
2. The dried slices are translucent in appearance which become flexible and rather tough soonafter gaining moisture.
Chemical Constituents Indian Squill essentially comprises of cardiac glycosides (0.3%), alcohol soluble extractives (20-40%), mucilages (40%) and calcium oxalate.
The two major cardiac glycosides present in the drug are Scillaren A and Scillaren B (see Section 2.3.3.1).
Substituents/Adulterants The bulbs of different species of Ledebouria (Scilla, Linn) are sold in the Indian bazars, under vernacular names which are equivalent to ‘small squill’.
Ledebouria hyacinthoides, is used as a substitute for squill. It has a scaly bulb, about the size and shape of a small pear, composed of very amooth and fleshyscales, which are so imbricated that they might be mistaken for entire coats if not carefully examined.
Uses
1. It is largely employed as a cardiotonic , stimulant and also an expectorant.
2. It is used as a very effective expectorant both in asthma and chronic bronchitis.
3. It possesses anticancer activity against human epidermoid carcinoma of the masopharynx in tissue culture.
4. It is in no way a perfect replacement for Digitalis since it possesses not only irritant effect but also is very poorly absorbed systemically.

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