"The bark of Croton Eluteria, Bennett "(U. S. P.) (Clutia Eluteria, Linné).
COMMON NAMES AND SYNONYMS: Sweet-wood tree, Cascarilla-bark tree, Eleuthera-bark tree; Cascarillae cortex (Br.), Cortex eluteriae, Cortex thuris.
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 238.
Botanical Source.—Croton Eluteria is a small tree, said to rise to the height of 20 feet, and branching thickly at the top. The branches and twigs are angular, rather compressed, striated, downy, and ferruginous. The leaves are petiolated, alternate, ovate, with a short, but obtuse point, entire, slightly nerved, bright-green above, with a few scattered leprous dots, silvery, and very downy beneath. The petioles are short and scurfy. The racemes are axillary and terminal, branched or compound; the branches short, divaricating, and covered with numerous, closely-parted, subsessile, whitish, monoecious flowers. The sterile flowers are above and smallest; the fertile ones below, few, and on short stalks. The stamens, 10 to 12. The capsule is roundish, minutely warted, scurfy, and not much larger than a pea, with 3 furrows, 3 cells, and 6 valves (L.).
History.—The tree from which cascarilla is obtained is a native of the West Indies, and is found plentifully in the island of Eleutheria, from which it derives its name. It was, for a time, supposed to have been derived from the Croton Cascarilla, a small tree growing in the Bahamas, Hayti, Peru, and Paraguay, but this is now ascertained by botanists to have been an error. Cascarilla bark is imported from the Bahama Islands, Jamaica, etc. At one time it was known as China nova, on account of the resemblance of the external portion of the bark to that of cinchona, the latter having been adulterated and even substituted with cascarilla bark. The name China nova was subsequently applied to the bark of Beuna magnifolia, Weddell, a South American tree, noted for the magnificence of its foliage and the fragrance of its flowers (Pharmacographia). Our Pharmacopoeial name—Cascarilla—is scarcely known in the Bahama Isles, the drug being there known as Eleutheria, or Sweet-wood bark. The name Cascarilla was first used in connection with cinchona bark, to which, by priority, it should apply, but it is now applied wholly to the sweet-wood bark. It signifies (Spanish) "little bark" (Ibid).
Description.—Cascarilla bark occurs "in quills, or curved pieces, about 2 Mm. (1/12 inch) thick, having a grayish, somewhat fissured, easily detached, corky layer, more or less coated with a white lichen, the uncoated surface being dull brown, and the inner surface smooth. It breaks with a short fracture, having a resinous and radially striate appearance. When burned, it emits a strong, aromatic, somewhat musk-like odor; its taste is warm and very bitter"—(U. S. P.). On account of its agreeable odor when burned, resembling that of musk, vanilla, or amber when heated, it is often added in small portions to tobacco, by smokers, to render the fumes more fragrant, but it produces unpleasant symptoms if used too freely. Water or spirit readily extracts its active principles, but diluted alcohol is the preferable menstruum.
Chemical Composition.—Trommsdorff found the bark to contain volatile oil, bitter resin, gum, and bitter matter with a trace of chloride of potassium, and woody fiber. Messner found oxide of copper in its ashes. Brandes detected a peculiar substance, cascarilline, which he took to be an alkaloid. Duval has found a neutral principle which he calls cascarillin, a disagreeable, fatty substance, an acid very much resembling tannic acid, etc. Cascarilla resembles salicin in many respects (Amer. Jour. Pharm., Vol. XVII, 1845). In 1882, Alessandri, by abstracting the bark with a 2 or 3 per cent solution of oxalic acid, obtained a substance similar in behavior to Duval's cascarillin, with the difference, however, that Alessandri's substance was basic, evolving ammonia by warming with caustic potash, and forming salts with acids. R. A. Cripps, in 1886, could not obtain such a body. C. and E. Mylius, in 1873, confirmed Duval's observation as to the absence of nitrogen in cascarilline, for which they establish the formula C12H18O4. Naylor and Littlefield obtained a purified cascarillin, having a melting point of 203.5° C. (398.3° F.), and the formula C16H24O5. It yields a distillate related to anthracene (C14H10), when heated with zinc dust (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1896). Conrady found vanillin in cascarilla bark (1895).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Tonic and stimulant. Used in dyspepsia, flatulency, chronic diarrhoea, in debility attending chronic diseases, convalescence from acute diseases, and to arrest vomiting. When cinchona produces nausea, the addition of cascarilla will prevent it. Dose of the powder, from 20 to 40 grains; of the tincture, from 1 to 4 fluid drachms; of the infusion, from 1 to 4 fluid ounces. On account of its musky odor, it is a common ingredient of fumigating pastiles.
Related Species.—Croton pseudo-china, Schlechtendal (see Aspidosperma)
Croton Malambo, Karsten, Malambo bark. Venezuela. Bark resembles cascarilla in taste and odor. It is quilled, brown externally, and transversely grooved, grayish-brown internally, and finely marked with striae. The cork-layer is nearly white, soft, riot thick, and fissured lengthwise. It has an abrupt splintery fracture. Used by the natives in dysentery, atonic dyspepsia, worms, spasms, yellow and intermittent fevers, asthma and trismus nascentium.
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.