From London's Ghost Acres

Is a plant that grows in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. Its roots and the resin extracted from it can all be used in medicine.

It is included in various preparations in the Pharmacopeia and used in the Compendium to treat digestive complaints, along with gout, retention of the menses, and water in the head.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Scammony Root Scammoniae Radix

“The dried root of Convolvulus Scammonia… From Syria and Asia Minor.[1]


“Tap-shaped roots, sometimes three inches in diameter at the top, brown without, white within, slightly odorous but tasteless.” Used in the preparations of:[2]

  • Resina Scammoniae

Scammony Scammonium

“A gum resin, obtained by incision from the living root of Concvolvulus Scammonia… chiefly in Asia Minor.”


“Ash-grey and rough externally; fresh fracture resinous, splintery, shining, black when dry; odour and flavour cheesy; causes, when chewed, a slight prickly sensation in the back of the throat; easily triturated into a dirty-grey powder, and converted with water into a smooth emulsion.” Dose: 5-10 grains. Used in preparations of: [3]

  • Confectio Scammonii
  • Pilula Colocynthidis composita
  • Pilula Colocynthidis et Hyoscyami
  • Pulvis Scammonii compositus
  • Resina Scammoniae

Preparations of Scammony

Resin of Scammony / Scammoniae Resina [4]

  • Scammoney Root, in coarse powder (8 oz), rectified spirit (as needed), distilled water (as needed)
  • “In brownish translucent pieces, brittle, resinous in fracture, of a sweet fragrant odour if prepared from the root.”
  • dose: 308 grains
  • used in preparations of: Extractum Colocynthidis compositum, Mistura Scammonii

Confection of Scammony / Confectio Scammonii[5]

  • Scammony, in fine powder (3 oz), ginger, in fine powder (1 ½ oz), oil of caraway (1 fl drachm), oil of cloves (1/2 fl drachm), syrup (3 fl oz), clarified honey (1 ½ oz)
  • Dose: 10-30 grains

Compound Extract of Colocynth / Extractum Colocynthidis compositum [6]

  • colocynth pulp (6 oz), extract of socotrine aloes (12 oz), resin of scammony (4 oz), hard soap, in powder (3 oz), cardamom seeds, in fine powder (1 oz), proof spirit
  • dose: 3-10 grains

Scammony Mixture / Mistura Scammonii[7]

  • resin of scammony (4 grains), milk (2 fl oz)
  • dose: ½-2 fl oz (for a child)

Compound Pill of Colocynth / Pilula Colocynthidis composita [8]

  • colocynth pulp, in powder (1 oz), barbardoes aloes, in powder (2 oz), scammony, in powder (2 oz), sulphate of potash, in powder (1/4 oz), oil of cloves (2 fl drachm), distilled water (as needed)
  • dose: 5-10 grains

Pill of Colocynth and Hyoscyamus / Pilula Colocynthidis et Hyoscyami [9]

  • colound pill of colocynth (2 oz), extract of hyoscyamus (1 oz)
  • dose: 5-10 grains

Compound Powder of Scammony / Pulvis Scammonii compositus[10]

  • Scammony, in powder (4 oz), jalap, in powder (3 oz), ginger, in powder (1 oz)
  • dose: 10-20 grains

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Classified by Savory as an Aperient and Purgative[11]

“Is an effacious and a powerful cathartic, very eligible in worm cases, and in the disordered state of bowels which so commonly occurs in children.” It is often combined with other purgatives. “Scammony, though so liable to disagree, is often required in the treatment of children, when the bowels are difficult to move, or loaded with mucus, which prevent the action of other purgatives, but which scammony in particular seems to possess the power of removing; hence its utility in obstinate constipation, the removal of worms, &c. &c.”[12]

Remedies Containing or to be used with

  • Aloes, Socotrine: scammony in powder included in “The Compound Cathartic Pill with Aloes”[13]
  • Calomel: scammony included in “Strong Purgative Powder for Children”[14]
  • Extract of Ox-Gall: scammony included in “Stomachic Aperient Pills”[15]
  • Gum Scammony: included in “Scammony with Chalk,” and (scammony) “Sacmmony with Rhubarb,” (powdered scammony), both of which being good remedies to give to children.[16] “Scammony Biscuits” are also used, and another pill containing scammony (powdered) is also given by Savory[17]
  • Jalap: can be combined with scammony[18]
  • Rhubarb, Turkey: sometimes combined with scammony. “it moderates their [scammony’s] activity, and counteracts their tendeny to lower the tone of the alimentary canal.”[19]

Diseases Treated with

General Diseases

  • Gout: scammony can be used as a preventative for gout, although Savory indicates that the best preventative is regular exercise, removing any acidity of the stomach, remaining in a temperate environment, and “paying strict attention to the functions of the digestive organs”[20]
  • Menstruation Retention of the Menses, and Chlorosis—Green Sickness: scammony can be used to help purge[21]
  • Water in the Head: Powdered scammony is included in powders that can be given to children[22]

Prescriptions Containing

Aperients and Cathartics

  • Aperient Pills: scammony[23]
  • Purgative Powder: powdered scammony[24]
  • Purgative Pills for General Use: powdered scammony[25]


  • Anthelmintic Powder (Another): powdered scammony[26]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 277
  2. GMCGB, 278
  3. GMCGB, 279
  4. GMCGB, 278
  5. GMCGB, 88-89
  6. GMCGB, 117
  7. GMCGB, 211-12
  8. GMCGB, 236
  9. GMCGB, 237
  10. GMCGB, 265-66
  11. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 390.
  12. Savory, 77
  13. Savory, 13
  14. Savory, 36
  15. Savory, 67
  16. Savory, 77
  17. Savory, 78
  18. Savory, 88
  19. Savory, 124
  20. Savory, 235
  21. Savory, 246
  22. Savory, 83
  23. Savory, 313
  24. Savory, 314
  25. Savory, 315
  26. Savory, 315

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