Cascarilla is the dried bark of Croton Eluteria, J. J. Bennett (N.O. Euphorbiaceae), a small tree indigenous to the Bahama Islands. The bark is imported usually in single quills or channelled pieces, varying from 2.5 to 7.5 centimetres in length and from 4 to 12 millimetres in width, and appears to be the bark of twigs, branches, and small stems. The cork has a characteristic chalky appearance, due to the presence of crystals of calcium oxalate in the cell-walls, and frequently bears the minute black apothecia of various lichens; it is longitudinally wrinkled, and often has a chequered appearance, due to small transverse and longitudinal cracks. The cork easily exfoliates, showing a brown or dark grey cortex, marked with corresponding fissures. The inner surface of the bark is dark in colour and longitudinally striated. It breaks with a short resinous fracture and has a pleasant aromatic odour, especially when burned, and an aromatic bitter taste. A transverse section of cascarilla exhibits a cork of varying thickness, the cells of which have thickened outer, but thin inner, walls; in the latter numerous minute crystals of calcium oxalate are embedded. Some of the cells of the cortex contain prismatic or cluster crystals of calcium oxalate, others droplets of oleoresin. The bast contains small scattered groups of sclerenchymatous fibres, secretion cells, and calcium oxalate in prisms or rosettes. The bark contains no sclerenchymatous cells, a character which is often useful in distinguishing it from other similar barks. Powdered cascarilla is readily identified by the characteristic cork-cells with their embedded crystals of calcium oxalate, by the bast fibres, and by the cells with oily secretion. It yields about 8 per cent. of ash. Occasionally the barks of other species of Croton appear in commerce mixed with, or substituted for, the genuine drug. They are best distinguished microscopically, especially by the presence of sclerenchymatous cells, which are absent from the official bark. They also differ in taste and odour.
Constituents.—The bark contains about 1 per cent. of volatile oil, the crystalline bitter principle cascarillin, the alkaloids betaine, and cascarilline, the latter being crystalline.
Action and Uses.—Cascarilla is an aromatic bitter, and also possesses weak febrifuge properties. The drug is most frequently administered in the form of infusion, which, however, does not keep well, and should be prescribed with an aromatic spirit or tincture. Tincture of cascarilla is an ingredient of bitter tonics, frequently with mineral acids, which precipitate some resin. Cascarilla, broken small, is used in fumigating compounds for its aromatic odour while burning.
- Infusum Cascarillae, B.P.—INFUSION OF CASCARILLA.
- Cascarilla, in No. 10 powder, 5; distilled water, boiling, 100. Infuse the drug in the water for fifteen minutes, in a covered vessel, and strain. Acts as a simple bitter. Dose.—15 to 30 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid ounce).
- Infusum Cascarillae Concentratum, B.P.C.—CONCENTRATED INFUSION OF CASCARILLA.
- A product closely resembling infusion of cascarilla is obtained by diluting 1 part of this preparation with 7 parts of distilled water. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid drachm).
- Mistura Cascarillae Composita, B.P.C.—COMPOUND CASCARILLA MIXTURE.
- Each fluid ounce contains 15 minims each of compound tincture of camphor and vinegar of squill; with infusion of cascarilla. Employed as an expectorant in chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Dose.—15 to 30 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid ounce).
- Tinctura Cascarillae, B.P.—TINCTURE OF CASCARILLA.
- Cascarilla, in No. 40 powder, 20; alcohol (70 per cent.), sufficient to produce 100. Prepare by the percolation process. Mixtures containing tincture of cascarilla with a mineral acid require the addition of one-sixteenth of their bulk of mucilage of gum acacia, to prevent the separation of resin in blackish indiffusible masses, Dose.—2 to 4 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid drachm).
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.