Cinnamomum zeylanicum. (Laurus Cinnamomum.) Cinnamon.
Nat. Ord. — Lauraceae. Sex. Syst. — Enneandria Monogynia.
Description. — Cinnamomum Zeylanicum is a tree growing from twenty to thirty feet high, with a trunk from a foot to a foot and a half in diameter, and covered with a thick, scahrous bark. The branches are numerous, smooth, strong, horizontal, declining, and somewhat quadrangular; and the young shoots are speckled with dark-green, and light-orange colors. The leaves are for the most part opposite, coriaceous, entire, ovate or ovate-oblong, tapering into an obtuse point, three-nerved, with the lateral nerves vanishing as they approach the point, reticulated on the under side, smooth, the upper leaves being the smallest. Panicles terminal or axillary, stalked. The flowers are small, white, hoary, and silky; segments oblong, deciduous in the middle. The fruit is an oval berry, which adheres to the receptacle similar to the acorn, it is larger than the black currant, and when ripe has a bluish-brown surface diversified with numerous white spots.
Cinnamomum Aromaticum is a tree similar to the above, with angular branches, and petioles covered with broken downiness. The leaves also resemble the above, but differ in being oblong-lanceolate and pointed, and in having a very fine down on their under-surface which may be seen by the aid of the microscope. The flowers are in narrow, silky panicles.
History. — The C. Zeylanicum is a native of Ceylon, the Malabar coast, Sumatra, Borneo, etc. The bark of the root has the odor of cinnamon with the pungency of camphor, which latter is obtained from it by distillation. The leaves have a hot taste, and when rubbed a spicy odor resembling cloves, owing to an oil which they yield on distillation. The flowers have a disagreeable odor, said to be similar to that exhaled from freshly-sawn bones. The tree throws out no fragrance beyond its immediate sphere. The bark furnishes the cinnamon of commerce. It is usually collected from trees about nine years old. The peeling of the shoots and branches commences in May, and lasts until the latter part of September, and merely consists in slitting the bark longitudinally, cutting it across at certain intervals, and then turning it back. The epidermis is then removed by scraping, and the bark, as it dries, assumes the form of quills, the smaller of which are introduced into the larger ones. The drying is always performed in the shade first, and finished in the sun. The best bark comes from Ceylon, which is in the form of rolls about half an inch in diameter, and thirty to forty inches long, and composed of many quills within each other. They have a light yellowish-brown color, are thin, smooth, and break readily with a splintery fracture, being easily pulverizable. They possess a rich, pure, peculiar odor, and a sweetish, aromatic, slightly astringent, pungent and peculiar taste ; are easily pulverized, and yield their virtues to water, but more readily to alcohol or spirit. They yield, when distilled, a small quantity of essential oil, of an agreeable flavor. The inferior barks are browner, thicker, less splintery, and of a less agreeable flavor. The Cinnamon brought to this country is imported from England. It contains an essential oil, tannin, mucilage, a coloring matter, cinnamic acid, resin, and lignin. The tannin is of the nature of catechu-tannin, as it gives a dark-green precipitate with the salts of iron.
The C. Aromaticum is a native of China, and furnishes the cassia of this country, which is in fact, a mixture of a variety of different qualities of cinnamon. It is usually found in our markets in single tubes of various sizes, from the eighth of an inch to an inch in diameter, of a redder or darker color than the best Ceylon, also thicker, rougher, denser, and breaks with a shorter fracture. It has a stronger, more pungent and astringent, but less agreeable taste and odor. It is the kind usually kept in the shops, and forms a good substitute for the Ceylon cinnamon in forming tinctures, etc., into which cinnamon enters as an ingredient.
There are several other species of cinnamon, as the C. Nitidum, C. Tamala, C. Loureirii, C. Culilawan, etc., but they are not recognized as officinal.
Cinnamon is often adulterated with the poorer sorts, and likewise with the bark after having been deprived of its oil. These adulterations must be detected by the taste and odor of the article.
Properties and Uses. — Stimulant tonic, stomachic, carminative, and astringent ; also reputed emmenagogue, and capable of diminishing the secretion of milk. The tincture of the bark is useful in uterine hemorrhage and Menorrhagia, given in drachm doses in sweetened water, and repeated every five, ten, or twenty minutes, or as may be required. Cinnamon is generally used to correct the effects, or improve the flavor of other drugs, and is one of the best additions to cinchona bark for correcting the nausea or vomiting sometimes occasioned by that drug. Internally, it is very useful in diarrhea, colic and cramp of the stomach, flatulency, and to allay nausea and vomiting. Dose of the powder, from five to twenty grains ; of the tincture, from ten to sixty drops. (See Oil of Cinnamon.)
Off. Prep. — Acidum Sulphuricum Aromaticum; Aqua Cinnamomi; Oleum Cinnamomi ; Tinctura Cinnamomi ; Tinctura Cardamomi Composita ; Tinctura Catechu ; Tinctura Guaiaci Aromatica ; Tinctura Olei Cinnamomum ; Vinum Cinchonae Compositum.