This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Canella Alba Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Canella alba & Costus corticosus Ph. Paris. Cina-momum five canella tubis minoribus alba C. B. Winterania Canella Linn. Canella alba: the inner bark of a large bay-leaved tree, growing in the low lands of Jamaica and other American islands: brought over in the form of quills; of which some are large and thick, taken from the trunk of the tree; others slender and thinner, from the branches; having generally pieces of a wrinkled brownish coat adhering to the out-side; lined on the inside with a fine white membrane; breaking over with a close even surface, and appearing internally of an unequal, pale, brownish or yellowish white colour.
Canella alba has hitherto been rarely employed in medicine, unless as a substitute for winter's bark, which it pretty much resembles, and has been commonly mistaken for. The London college has now received it in two officinal compositions, for alleviating the ill flavour of aloes; and the Edinburgh, in their Tinctura Amara. It is a moderately warm aromatic; of an agreeable smell, somewhat re-sembling that of cloves, but far weaker; and of a pungent taste, accompanied with a consider-able bitterishness.
Infusions of it in water are of a yellowish colour, and smell moderately of the canella, but in taste are rather bitter than aromatic.
Tinctures made in rectified spirit are of a darker reddish yellow colour, and have more of the aromatic warmth of the bark, but very little of its smell. Tinctures in proof spirit are more agreeable than either; this menstruum dissolving the aromatic as well as the bitter matter of the canella, without covering or suppressing its flavour like the pure spirit.
In distillation with water, it yields an essential oil, of a dark yellowish colour, of a thick tenacious consistence, difficultly separable from the aqueous fluid, in smell sufficiently grateful, though rather less so than the bark itself: the remaining decoction, inspiffated, leaves an extract of great bitterness, in consistence not uniform, seemingly composed of a resinous and gummy matter imperfectly mixed. On infpif-fating the spirituous tincture, the spirit, which distills, has no great smell or taste of the canella, but is so far impregnated with its more volatile oil as to turn milky on the admixture of water: the remaining extract retains the bitterness of the bark, but has little more of its warmth or flavour than the extract made with water.