This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Cassia Lignea Pharm. Edinb. & Paris. Cassia lignea: the bark of a tree of the cinnamon kind, (cinnamommn feu canella malavarica & javenensis C. B. Laurus Caffia Linn.) brought from the East Indies*(a); exactly resembling cinnamon in appearance, but distinguishable by its breaking short or smooth, while cinnamon breaks fibrous or shivery like wood.
This bark resembles cinnamon in aromatic flavour as well as in external appearance; but differs in being weaker, or containing less active matter, and in its abounding with a viscous mucilaginous subsftance. Chewed, it dissolves as it were in the mouth into a kind of slime: powdered and boiled in water, it renders a considerable quantity of the fluid thick and glutinous, so as to concrete on cooling into the consistence of a gelly.
Rectified spirit of wine, digested on the bark, dissolves and extracts its aromatic matter; the powder retaining its mucilage, so as to form a Caffia gelly with water as at first. The aromatic pare may be separated also by distillation with water in which process, if a large quantity of caffia is used, a small portion of essential oil may be collected. * M. Beaume procured two drams and a half of oil, from twelve pounds and a half of caffia. The spicy principle of the caffia, thus freed from the mucilage, in the form of spiritu-ous tincture, or spirituous extract, or distilled water, or essential oil, appears the same with that of cinnamon; provided, in regard to the distilled fluids, that they have not received an empyreumatic taint in the operation, an inconvenience to which they are very subject on account of the mucilaginous matter swelling up and burning to the vessel. * The Edinburgh college have now directed a simple water to be kept, ten pints of which are drawn from a pound and a half of caffia lignea.
* (a) Berglus in his Mat. Med. gives the Laurus Mala-batrum as the tree producing the caffia lignea brought from the East Indies, and the Laurus Caffia as the West India cinnamon or caffia, which he says is stronger than the former.
‡ Ph. Ed.
Caffia lignea was employed by the ancients as a succedaneum to cinnamon, of which it was reckoned equivalent to half its own quantity. At present, it is not unfrequently mixed with, or substituted to, that spice in the shops, but is scarcely ever made use of under its own name.