130. Croton Eleuteria, Swartz.—The Sea-side Balsam or Sweet-wood.
Sex. Syst. Monoecia, Monadelphia.
(Cortex, L.—Cascarilla. Bark probably of Croton Eleuteria, and possibly of other species of the same genus, E.—The bark, D.)
History.—Great confusion has existed with regard both to Cascarilla or Eleutheria bark and the plant yielding it.
The bark is said to have been first noticed by Vincent-Garcias Salat, [Unita quaesticuncula in qua examinatur pulvis de quarango vulgo cascarilla in curatione tertianae, in 4to. Valentinae. 1692. (Duval, Journ. de Pharm. et de Chimie, 3me sér. t. viii. p. 91, 1845; see also Alibert, Nouv. Elém. de Thérap. t. i. p. 74, 5me édit. 1826.)] a Spaniard, in 1692. In the following year, Stisser, [Acta laboratorii chymici, specimen ii. Helmstada, 1693 (quoted by Geoffroy). Stisser was the author of a letter to the Fellows of the Royal Society, entitled De machinis fumiductoriis, and published at Hamburgh, in 1686.] a German professor, gave a more extended notice of it, and states that he had some of it given him by a person of distinction, at that time just returned from England, who told him that it was then the custom in England to mix it with tobacco, in order to render it more agreeable for smoking.
By Dale [Pharmacologia, 3tia ed. p. 346, 1737. Many of the synonymes for this bark given in Dale's work are erroneous.] and some other pharmacologists, it was thought to be cortex thuris, or frankincense bark, and by Geoffroy [Treat. on Foreign Vegetables, by R. Thicknesse, M. D. (chiefly taken from Geoffroy), Lond. 1749.] and others to be a species of cinchona bark. Its name cascarilla (the diminutive of cascara, the Spanish name for the rind or bark of trees) is also a Spanish name for Peruvian bark.
In 1754, Catesby [Nat. Hist. of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands.] noticed and figured a plant, which, he said, grew plentifully on most of the Bahama Islands, and yielded Cascarilla bark, or, as he called it, "The Ilatheria bark, La Chacrilla". This plant is generally supposed to be the Croton Cascarilla, Linn. (C. lineare, Jacq.); and several reasons led me, at one time, [See Lond. Med. Gaz. vol. xi. p. 489.] to think that it might be the source of the cascarilla bark of the shops—an opinion also entertained by Dr. Wood; [United States Dispensatory.] but Dr. Lindley [Fl. Med. p. 179.] adduced several reasons for believing that the Croton Eleuteria was the true species, as Drs. Wright and Woodville had already asserted; and the subsequent receipt, by Dr. Lindley, of specimens of the plant, from the Hon. J. C. Lees, Chief Judge in the Bahamas, has fully confirmed the accuracy of Dr. Lindley's opinion. [Specimens of the stems and bark accompanied the specimens of the plant. The former were kindly presented to me by Dr. Lindley.] "The plant," says Mr. Lees, "is scarcely known here by the name of Cascarilla, but is commonly called Sweet Wood Bark, and often Eleuthera Bark, because it is chiefly gathered on the island of Eleuthera. It is the only bark receiving the name of Cascarilla exported from the Bahamas, where the tree grows in abundance."
The Croton Cascarilla, Don, L. (C. Pseudo-China, Schiede), yields Copalchi (not Cascarilla) bark.
Botany. Gen. Char.—See Croton Tiglium.
Sp. Char.—A small tree; leaves ovate, obtuse, entire, beneath silvery and densely downy; racemes axillary and terminal, compound; flowers subsessile, monoecious (Lindley).
Branches and twigs angular, somewhat compressed. Leaves stalked, alternate, with a short but obtuse point. Flowers monoecious, subsessile. Males: petals whitish; stamens 10—12. Ovary roundish; styles 3, bifid; stigmas obtuse. Capsules roundish, minutely warted, not much bigger than a pea, with three furrows, 3 cells, and 6 valves. [Swartz, Fl. Ind. occ.]
Hab.—The Bahama Islands, Jamaica.
Description.—Eleutheria or cascarilla bark (cortex eleuteriae seu cascarillae, chaquerille vel schacharilla) is in the form of fragments, or quills, of about one or two, more rarely three or four, inches long; the fragments being thin, and usually curved both longitudinally and transversely, the quills varying in size from that of a writing pen to that of the little finger. The bark is compact, hard, moderately heavy, and has a short resinous fracture, not fibrous or splintery, as in cinchona bark. Some of the pieces are partially or wholly covered with a whitish rugous epidermis, cracked both longitudinally and transversely. If a longitudinal section of the bark be examined by the microscope, cells are observed filled with an orange-red matter (oleo-resin?). The cortical layers are of a dull brown colour. The taste of this bark is warm, spicy, and bitter; its odour is peculiar, but agreeable. When burned, it evolves a pleasant odour (which has been compared by Pfaff to that of vanilla or amber when heated), on which account it is a constituent of fumigating pastiles.
Fée [Essai sur Cryptogames, 1824.] has enumerated no less than forty-three species of lichens found on this bark. With one exception (Parmelia perlata, which I have never seen on cascarilla), every one of these lichens has an adherent, crustaceous, amorphous thallus.
A very common species is Lecidea Arthonioides, Fée; the thallus of which is very white, and the apothecia minute, round, and black.
Commerce.—It is imported from Nassau, in New Providence (one of the Bahama Islands).
Composition.—Cascarilla bark was analyzed by Trommsdorff, [Gmelin, Handb. d. Chem. ii 1319.] who obtained from it the following substances: Volatile oil 1.6, bitter resin 15.1, gum and bitter matter with trace of chloride of potassium 18.7, woody fibre, 65.6. Meissner [Ibid.] detected in the ashes of the bark the oxide of copper. Brandes [Berl. Jahrb. xxiii.] has announced the existence of a peculiar alkaline substance (cascarillina).
1. Volatile Oil of Cascarilla (Oleum Cascarillae)—It possesses the odour and taste of the bark. Its sp. gr. is 0.938. Its colour is variable, sometimes being greenish, at others yellow or blue. It consists of two oils, one boiling at 344°, and which contains no oxygen (its formula probably being C10H8); the other less volatile and oxygenated. Nitric acid converts it into a yellow, pleasant smelling resin. By distillation with water the bark yields about 1-120th of its weight of this oil.
2. Resin.—Separated from the alcoholic tincture of the cascarilla by the addition of water. It is reddish brown; has a balsamic, slightly bitter, not astringent taste; and, when thrown on hot coals, evolves an agreeable odour.
3. Extractive.—Has a bitter, but not balsamic tasle. Its walery solution reddens litmus, and is unchanged by either ferruginous solutions or tincture of nutgalls.
Chemical Characteristics.—The sesquichloride of iron deepens the colour of the infusion of cascarilla. The tincture of nutgalls causes turbidness, and at the end of twenty-four hours a very slight precipitate. A very concentrated alcoholic tincture deposits some resin on the addition of water.
Physiological Effects.—Cascarilla bark belongs to the aromatic bitters, before noticed (see ante, p. 244 [vol. 1 -Henriette]): that is, it produces the combined effect of an aromatic and of a moderately powerful tonic; but it does not possess any astringency. Some pharmacologists place it with aromatics, others with tonics. Cullen, [Mat. Med.] though at one time uncertain as to which of these classes it belonged, ultimately classed it with the tonics. Krauss [Heilmittellehre, S. 401.] states that moderate doses give rise, in very susceptible, especially in sanguine subjects, to narcotic effects; but though I have frequently employed it, I never observed an effect of this kind. Mixed with tobacco, and used for smoking, it is said to cause giddiness and intoxication. [United States Dispensatory.]
Uses.—Cascarilla has been employed as a substitute for cinchona; and although it is inferior to the latter in tonic and febrifuge qualities, its aromatic quality frequently enables it to sit easily on the stomach, without causing either vomiting or purging, which, in irritable affections of the alimentary canal, cinchona is apt to produce. In this country it is principally employed in those forms of dyspepsia requiring an aromatic stimulant and tonic. It is also used in cases of debility generally; and in chronic bronchial affections, to check excessive secretion of mucus. In Germany, where it is a favourite remedy, it is used in many other cases; such as low nervous fevers, intermittents, the latter stages of diarrhoea, and dysentery.
Administration.—The powder may be given in doses of from ten grains to half a drachm; but it is a less agreeable form than the infusion.
1. INFUSUM CASCARILLAE, L. E. D.; Infusion of Cascarilla.—(Cascarilla Bark, bruised, ℥iss [℥j, D.]; Boiling [distilled, L.] Water Oj [Oss, D.]. Macerate for two [one, D.] hours in a vessel lightly covered, and strain [through linen or calico, E.]. The product should measure about eight ounces, D.)—A light and aromatic bitter tonic. It is a good vehicle for acids and alkalies. the tincture of cascarilla is usually joined with it. Dose, from f℥j to f℥ij.
2. TINCTURA CASCARILLAE, L. E. D.; Tincture of Cascarilla.—(Cascarilla Bark, bruised [in moderately fine powder, E.], ℥v; Proof Spirit Oij. Macerate for seven [fourteen, D.] days, then express and filter, L. "Proceed by percolation or digestion, as afterwards directed for tincture of cinchona," E.)—Generally employed as an adjunct to tonic and stomachic infusions. Dose, from fℨj to fℨij.