Preparations: Compound Powder of Jalap
The bark of Canella alba, Murray (Canella Winterana, Gaertner; Winterania Canella, Linné).
COMMON NAMES: White wood tree, Wild cinnamon tree.
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 26.
Botanical Source.—Canella alba is a straight tree, from 20 to 50 feet high, with erect branches at the summit only. The bark is yellowish-white; the inner bark thick, smooth, and pale, with a biting, aromatic taste. The leaves are scattered, shining, and yellowish-green, obovate, cuneate at the base, dotted when young, opaque when old, and petioled. The flowers are terminal, small, and borne in clusters, and of a purple color; the petals are concave, erect, thick, and deciduous. Berry the size of a pea, fleshy, smooth, blue, or black, hot and biting while green; seeds generally 2. Stamens combined in a tube; anthers 15, resembling furrows; stigmas 3 (L).
History.—This is a South American tree, being indigenous also in sections of south Florida, and in many of the isles of the West Indies. The bark was introduced into Europe early in the seventeenth century. The corky layer of the bark, which is of a silver-like color, is removed by beating and cutting, after which the commercial bark is obtained. The drug is exported only from the Bahama isles.
Description.—The bark is of a pale yellowish-white color (externally slightly yellowish-red with elongated scars disposed transversely), occurring in quills or hard, twisted pieces, with an acrid, peppery taste, an aromatic, clove-like, or cinnamon-like odor, and a short, white, granular fracture. On breaking the bark, numerous resin cells, appearing as orange-yellow specks, are scattered throughout the whiteness of the internal structure. Alcohol extracts its properties, the tincture being of a yellow color, and becoming white when water is added. It pulverizes readily, yielding a powder of a pale-yellow color.
Chemical Composition.—When the bark is distilled with water an essential oil may be had, of a dark-yellowish color, having a powerful aroma and intense acridity; a pound of the bark yields about a drachm of oil. Besides, analysis has discovered in it gum, starch, bitter extractive, resin, albumen, and various saline substances. Analyses were made by Henry (1821), and Petroz and Robinet (1822), the latter observers finding a body to which they gave the name canellin, subsequently (1843) shown, by Meyer and Von Reiche, to be identical with mannit, which exists to the extent of about 8 per cent. The last-named chemists showed the presence of eugenol in the volatile oil, and also demonstrated the presence of another oil bearing a close resemblance to the principal constituent of oil of cajeput. Two other oils were found, but have not been thoroughly studied. The ash was found to be largely calcium carbonate. No tannin is present in the bark.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Canella bark is an aromatic stimulant and tonic, useful in enfeebled conditions of the stomach and alimentary canal. It is generally used in conjunction with other tonics. It is employed in the West Indies as a spice, and has been advised in scurvy, and in chlorotic, post partum, and carcinomatous menorrhagia. Some smokers add this bark to their smoking tobacco to remove the unpleasant odor from the tobacco, and to impart a degree of fragrance to their smoking-rooms. Dose, 10 to 40 grains.
Related entries: Cinnamodendron
Related Species.—Cinnamodendron corticosum, Miers;Jamaica. Used by the natives for the same purpose as the canella bark, for which it is frequently sold. Cinnamodendron bark contains tannin; hence its decoction yields a black coloration with ferric salts, thereby differing from canella bark, which it is thought to resemble in other respects chemically. The bark is grayish-brown or ferruginous in color, the corky warts leaving a nearly circular scar, instead of the elongated, transverse scar of the true bark.
Cinnamodendron macranthum, Baillon;Porto Rico. Yields a bark resembling the preceding, and is substituted for canella bark.
The barks of the above species and canella bark itself have been sold as Winter's bark (see Wintera).