The dried juice of scammony (Convolvulus scammonia) has been used in domestic medicine from ancient times. Theophrastus (633), 300 B. C., mentions it, as well as did Dioscorides (194), Pliny (514), Celsus (136), and Rufus of Ephesus (561a), a city in whose neighborhood scammony abounded, as is yet the case near its ruins. The early Arabians were acquainted with the plant, and in the tenth and eleventh centuries it was used in Britain, being commended to Alfred the Great by Helias, Patriarch of Jerusalem. Botanists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as Brunfels (107), Gesner (264), and others, described the plant as well as the drug obtained therefrom. the latter being well described by Russell (566), an English physician of Aleppo, in 1752.
Scammony is obtained from Asia Minor, near Smyrna, which is its principal port of export. The resin of scammony, in the form of a dried juice, was gathered by means of sea shells, within which the juice collected and dried, a method of obtaining it still practiced in Asia Minor. Mr. Clark, of Sochia, near Smyrna, obtained the resin as an alcoholic extract from the dried root, a method of production now in use, but which probably yields a product different from the natural gum (see Manna). Scammony is a gift of the Orient, the beginning of its use being home medication.