This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Cascarillae Cortex Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Thus judaeorum Park. Cortex thuris nonnullis dictus, vel thymiama, vel thus judaeorum Rail hist. Eleutheria or Cascarilla: the bark, probably of the shrub described and figured by Catefby under the name of ricinoides elaeagni folio or ilathera, Croton Cascarilla Linn. which grows plentifully in most of the Bahama islands (a). From those islands, particularly, as it is said, from one of them called Elatheria, it is immediately brought to us; in curled pieces, or rolled up into short quills, about an inch in width: covered on the outside with a Stiffer appears to have been the first who employed the cortex cafcarillae or eleutheriae as a medicine in Europe. He relates, that he received this aromatic bark from England; and that some time after, it was fold at Brunfwick for Peruvian bark: that a tincture of it in alkalized vinous spirits, or in dulcified alkaline spi-rits, proved carminative and diuretic, and did considerable service in arthritic and scorbutic cases; and that if taken immediately after meals, it affected the head a little (b).
(a) Essay towards a natural history of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama islands rough whitish matter, and brownish on the inner side; exhibiting, when broken, a smooth, close, blackish brown surface.
This bark, freed from the outer whitish coat which is insipid and inodorous, has a light agreeable smell, and a moderately bitter taste, accompanied with a considerable aromatic warmth. It is easily inflammable, and yields, whilst burning, a very fragrant smell, somewhat resembling that of musk; a property which distinguishes the eleutheria from all other known barks (a).
(a) This property seems to confirm the above account; that eleutheria (not of the growth of the East Indies as some have supposed, nor of the Spanish West Indies as others) is really the produce of the Bahama ricinoides of Catefby; whose bark, he says, infused either in wine or water, gives a fine aromatic bitter, and being burnt yields a fine perfume. Those, who imagine the eleutheria to be the bark of a Peruvian tree, seem to have been milled by the name cascarilla; which is applied by the Spaniards to the Peruvian bark striclly so called, and signifies no more than bark in general. See Hoffman's Dissertotio de cascarilla, anno 1738. Operum omnium supplement. ii. par. i. p. 704.
(b) Acla labor-atom chymici. Specim. ii. cap. ix & X; edit. ann. 1693. & de febribus intermittentibus consult. nov-cap. xvi.
Eleutheria was soon after employed by Api-nus, in an epidemic fever of the intermittent kind, which raged in some parts of Norway in 1694 and 1695. This disease, which at first had the appearance of an ordinary intermittent, was at length accompanied with petechial spots. The common alexipharmacs and sudorifics were found ineffectual: but the powder or extract of eleutheria, joined with them, proved successful, even after petechias had appeared: dysenteries, succeeding the fever, were removed by the same means. During the use of the eleutheria, the patient generally sweated plentifully, without loss of strength or other inconvenience: the belly was at the same time kept open, and those who did not sweat had commonly three or four stools a day: where the menstrual or haemorrhoidal fluxes were suppressed at the beginning of the disorder, they generally, upon the use of this medicine, re-appeared (a).
The gentlemen of the French academy found this bark of excellent service against an epidemic dysentery in the year 1719; in which, ipecacoanha proved ineffectual. Mr. Boulduc observes, that this last left a lowness of the spirits, and weakness of the stomach, which continued for a long time: whereas the eleutheria soon raised the strength, and promoted appetite (b).
At present, eleutheria is in great esteem among the Germans, as a warm stomachic and corroborant, in flatulent colics, internal haemor-rhagies, dysenteries, the diarrhoeas of acute fevers, and in common intermittents; in which last it is often joined to the Peruvian bark, and by many preferred to it, as being less subject to some inconveniences, which the other, by its great astringency, is apt to produce. Among us, it has but lately been received into practice; and its use is not yet become so general as it well deserves to be.
(a) Historica relatio febris epidemicae, edita anno 1697.
(b) Histoire de I'acad. royale des science, pour l'ann. 1719.
The virtues of eleutheria are partially ex-traded by water, and totally by rectified spirit: after the action of the former, it retains a con-siderable share of its flavour, after the latter it proves inodorous and insipid: the watery tinctures are of a reddish brown, the spirituous of a brownish orange colour. An officinal tincture of cafcarilla is directed by the London college in the proportion of four ounces of the powdered bark, to a quart of proof spirit. Distilled with water, it yields a greenish essential oil, of a very pungent taste, and of a fragrant penetrating smell, more grateful than that of the cafcarilla itself, in quantity, according to Hoffman's experiments, not exceeding one dram from sixteen ounces: the decoction, infpiffated, leaves an extract of a moderate dull bitterness, much weaker than might have been expected from the strong taste of the bark in substance. On infpiffating the spirituous tincture, with a gentle heat, nothing considerable of the active matter of the cafcarilla was found to arise with the menstruum: the remaining extract, nevertheless, was rather weaker in taste than the bark itself and when thoroughly exsiccated, scarcely dis-covered any taste at all, being almost a pure resin, not dissoluble by the saliva. It is probably the dry pulverable extract that Cartheufer means, when he says it has no taste; and the extract in its moist state that was examined by Boulduc, who says it is bitter, biting, and aromatic.
Tinct. cafcarillae Ph. Lond.
matic. The London college in their last pharmacopoeia order an extract of cafcarilla, made like that of Peruvian bark with its resin, by mixing the watery and spirituous extracts together.