Medicinal plants

Squill – Application & Treatment for Health


The famous Greek doctor Hippocrates already knew the healing properties of dried sea onions . In later centuries, the plant, which is native to the entire Mediterranean region, was praised as having healing powers in all important botanical and medicinal works of antiquity and the Middle Ages. In the 18th century, medicine recognized its positive effects on human heart health.

Occurrence & Cultivation of Sea Onions

The sea onion ( Urginea maritima , Scilla maritima , Drimia maritima ) is also called white sea onion . It belongs to the hyacinth family. The perennial herbal medicinal plant can – based on its green leaves – grow up to 50 centimeters high. Their inflorescence sometimes even reaches a height of 1.50 meters. The ancient medicinal herb grows from a bulb covered with thin, reddish-brown and dry skins.

This can weigh up to three kilograms and have a maximum diameter of 30 centimeters. Sometimes the upper part of the tuber is visible. The squill only has basal, lanceolate, hairless, grey-green leaves that dry out in early summer and only sprout again in autumn – after the inflorescences have appeared. From August, the plant shows its terminal, about 40 centimeters long racemose inflorescences, the flowers of which are on about three centimeters long stalks.

They have narrow bracts and grow in large numbers on the inflorescences. The fruits of Urginea maritima are three-lobed spherical capsules. The bulbs of the white onion variety (there are also varieties with red flesh) are dug up and dried shortly after flowering. The squill is found throughout the Mediterranean region, where it mostly grows near the coast and in pastures. The old medicinal plant prefers rocky and sandy soil. It is also cultivated today in Pakistan, India and North America.

Effect & Application

Sea onions contain bufadienolides (scillarene A, proscillaridin A and B, scillinoside), flavonoids, polysaccharides , anthocyanins, glucoscillarene A, sugar, levulose, saponins , fat , caffeine , bitter substances, tannins, resins, citric acid, many minerals and essential oils . The old medicinal plant contains about twelve cardiac glycosides (bufadienolides).

Only the middle, fleshy skins of the white-fleshed squill variety are used medicinally, as they are not as toxic as those of the red-fleshed varieties. The skins, cut lengthwise and crosswise into the smallest pieces, are dried and processed further. They have an antihypertensive effect in patients with pathologically increased venous pressure and have heart-strengthening properties.

They increase heart function, the supply of vital oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle and reduce the heart rate. The heart, which has been strengthened thanks to the squill medicine, no longer has to pump so hard to supply all organs and tissues with oxygen and vital substances. Since the squill remedy affects the kidneys directly, it also has strong draining properties.

In addition, the following effects are also proven for the medicinal Mediterranean plant in natural medicine and homeopathy : anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, expectorant, expectorant, antispasmodic , wound-healing and calming. However, since all parts of the squill plant have a highly toxic effect, the patient should in no case self-medicate with it, but should first consult their attending physician.

The sea onion variety with the red bulb is even 10 to 15 times more toxic than the white onion variety. Standardized ready-to-use medicinal products are recommended because the user cannot accidentally overdose with them: the bulbs of the same sea onion variety differ very strong in terms of the amount of active ingredients they contain, depending on location and seasonality.

Homeopathic remedies should only be taken under medical supervision. The German Pharmacopoeia lists squill (white onion variety) as a drug for mild heart failure . However, it is no longer used in this form today. In the past, the middle onion peel particles were used internally and the crushed leaves of the plant externally (as a dressing).

Patients should not use sea onion finished medicinal products and homeopathic remedies if they suffer from acute inflammation, a sensitive gastrointestinal tract, potassium deficiency and hypercalcaemia , are receiving calcium therapy or have to take heart medication containing digitalis.

Importance for health, treatment & prevention

The cardiac glycosides found in squill remedies are used to treat heart failure and angina pectoris . Thanks to Scillaren A, they have a faster and more intense effect than digitalis medication. Consumed orally, 25 percent of the active ingredient is immediately available for the body. In addition, they are not accumulated in his body.

Standardized squill remedies also help with diseases of the upper respiratory tract such as asthma , chronic bronchitis , hoarseness and cough , inflammatory liver diseases such as hepatitis , intestinal inflammation , kidney inflammation , diseases of the urinary tract such as anuria and urinary gravel, edema , spleen tumors , gout and epilepsy .

In today’s medicine, squill preparations are usually only administered orally for heart diseases (sometimes even together with medicines containing digitalis) and as a diuretic. Folk medicine still knew external applications that helped against skin diseases , tissue hardening, boils and burns .

The healer put a pad of onion peel particles crushed with cod liver oil on the affected area. In contemporary homeopathy, Tinct. Scillae (alcohol-based squill tincture) in a 1:5 ratio prescribed as drops or a mixture of drops. In the case of heart problems, the patient must take 10 to 20 drops 3 to 5 times a day.

Tachycardia , senile heart, mild to moderate cardiac insufficiency with edema formation, imminent decompensation and angina pectoris are mentioned as indications . Scilla maritima globules are prescribed for chronic bronchitis with heavy mucus formation and uncontrolled urination.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.