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Cassia (Cinnamon)

Botanical: Cinnamomum cassia (BLUME)
Family: N.O. Lauraceae

---Synonyms---Bastard Cinnamon. Chinese Cinnamon. Cassia lignea. Cassia Bark. Cassia aromaticum. Canton Cassia.
---Part Used---The dried bark.
---Habitat---Indigenous to China. Cochin-China and Annam. Also cultivated in Sumatra, Ceylon, Japan, Java, Mexico and South America.


---Description---As its name of Bastard Cinnamon implies, the product of this tree is usually regarded as a substitute for that of the Cinnarmomum zeylanicum of Ceylon, which it closely resembles. The cultivated trees are kept as coppices, and numerous shoots, which are not allowed to rise higher than 10 feet, spring from the roots. Their appearance when the flame-coloured leaves and delicate blossoms first appear is very beautiful. The fruit is about the size of a small olive. The leaves are evergreen, ovaloblong blades from 5 to 9 inches long. The trees are at their greatest perfection at the age of ten to twelve years, but they continue to spread and send up new shoots. The bark may be easily distinguished from that of cinnamon, as it is thicker, coarser, darker, and duller, the flavour being more pungent, less sweet and delicate, and slightly bitter. The stronger flavour causes it to be preferred to cinnamon by German and Roman chocolate makers. The fracture is short, and the quills are single, while pieces of the corky layer are often left adhering. The best and most pungent bark is cut from the young shoots when the leaves are red, or from trees which grow in rocky situations. The bark should separate easily from the wood, and be covered inside with a mucilaginous juice though the flavour of the spice is spoiled if this is not carefully removed. The wood without the bark is odourless and is used as fuel. When clean, the bark is a little thicker than parchment, and curls up while drying in the sun. It is imported in bundles of about 12 inches long, tied together with strips of bamboo and weighing about a pound. It is the kind almost universally kept in American shops.

The dried, unripe fruits, or Chinese Cassia Buds, have the odour and taste of the bark, and are rather like small cloves in appearance. They have been known in Europe as a spice since the Middle Ages, being then probably used in preparing a spiced wine called Hippocras. Now they are employed in confectionery and in making Pot-Pourri. The importation of the buds into the U.S.A. in 1916 was 197,156 lb., and of Cassia and Cassia leaves 7,487,156 lb.

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---Constituents---Cassia bark yields from 1 to 2 per cent of volatile oil, somewhat resembling that of cinnamon. It should be kept from the light in well-stoppered, ambercoloured bottles. It is cheaper and more abundant than the Ceylon variety, and is the only official oil of Cinnamon in the United States Pharmacopoeia and German Pharmacopoeia. It is imported from Canton and Singapore. Its value depends on the percentage of cinnamic aldehyde which it contains. It is heavier, less liquid, and congeals more quickly than the Ceylon oil.

There are also found in it cinnamyl acetate, cinnamic acid, phenylpropyl acetate and orthocumaric aldehyde, tannic acid and starch.

Ceylon cinnamon, if tested with one or two drops of tincture of iodine to a fluid ounce of a decoction of the powder, is but little affected, while with Cassia a deep blueblack colour is produced. The cheaper kinds of Cassia can be distinguished by the greater quantity of mucilage, which can be extracted by cold water.

Eighty pounds of the freshly-prepared bark yield about 2.5 oz. of the lighter of the two oils produced, and 5 5 of the heavier.

An oil was formerly obtained by distilling the leaves after maceration in sea water, and this was imported into Great Britain.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---Stomachic, carminative, mildly astringent, said to be emmenagogue and capable of decreasing the secretion of milk. The tincture is useful in uterine haemorrhage and menorrhagia, the doses of 1 drachm being given every 5, 10 or 20 minutes as required. It is chiefly used to assist and flavour other drugs, being helpful in diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and to relieve flatulence.

The oil is a powerful germicide, but being very irritant is rarely used in medicine for this purpose. It is a strong local stimulant, sometimes prescribed in gastro-dynia, flatulent colic, and gastric debility.

---Dosages---Of oil, 1 to 3 minims. Of powder, 10 to 20 grains.

---Poisons and Antidotes---It was found that 6 drachms of the oil would kill a moderately sized dog in five hours, and 2 drachms in forty hours, inflammation of the gastro-intestinal mucous membrane being observed.

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---Other Species, Substitutes and Adulterations---The powder cinnamon is often adulterated with sugar, ground walnut shells, galanga rhizome, etc.

The oil sometimes contains resin, petroleum, or oil of Cloves. Saigon cinnamon was recognized by the United States Pharmacopoeia in 1890. It comes from French Cochin-China, its botanical origin being uncertain. It is also known as Annam Cinnamon, China Cinnamon, and God's Cinnamon.

C. inners gives the Wild Cinnamon of Japan. It is also found in Southern India, where the buds are more mature, and are employed medicinally by the Indians in dysentery, diarrhcea and coughs. The bark is used as a condiment.

C. lignea includes several inferior varieties from the Malabar Coast.

C. Sintok comes from Java and Sumatra.

C. obtusifolium, from East Bengal, Assam, Burmah, etc., is perhaps not distinct from C. Zeylanicum.

C. Culilawan and C. rubrum come from the Moluccas, Amboyna, and have a flavour of cloves.

C. Loureirii grows in Cochin-China and Japan.

C. pauciflorum is found from Silhet and Khasya.

C. Burmanni is said to yield Massoi Bark, which is also a product of Massora aromatica.

The bark of C. Tamala as well as the above species gives the inferior Cassia Vera.

C. inserta is slightly known.

C. nitidum has aromatic leaves, which, when dried, are said to have been the 'folia Malabathri.'

Martinique and Cayenne contribute three varieties, from trees introduced from Ceylon and Sumatra. Other kinds are known as Black Cinnamon, Isle of France Cinnamon, and Santa Fé Cinnamon.

Oil of Cassia is now recognized in the United States Pharmacopceia under the name of oil of Cinnamon.

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Bear in mind "A Modern Herbal" was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900's. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.

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