This section is from the book "A Treatise On Therapeutics, And Pharmacology Or Materia Medica Vol1", by George B. Wood. Also available from Amazon: Part 1 and Part 2.
This is the bark of Canella alba, a large tree growing in Jamaica and other West India islands. The bark is stripped from the branches, deprived of its epidermis, and dried.
Sensible Properties. It is in pieces of various size, usually thicker and larger than the coarsest cinnamon, either completely or partially quilled, often twisted, of a pale-orange or light reddish-yellow colour on the outer surface, nearly white on the inner, brittle with a short fracture, and yielding a yellowish-white powder. Its odour is aromatic, its taste warm, bitterish, and very pungent.
Active Constituents. A peculiar volatile oil is the main active ingredient; but there is also a bitter substance, and an aromatic resin, which are probably not without influence. The bark yields its virtues imperfectly to water, but readily and wholly to alcohol.
Canella has the properties of the aromatics generally, with a greater degree of pungency than most of them, and some tonic power. It is well adapted to atonic states of the stomach and bowels; but is seldom used except in conjunction with other medicines, of which it may cover the taste, and correct any nauseating or griping property. The dose of the powder is from ten to thirty grains. Associated with aloes, it forms the Powder of Aloes and Canella (Pulvis Aloes et Canella, U. S.), which was formerly so much esteemed as to have received the name of hiera picra, or sacred bitter, though now comparatively little used. Whatever its virtues may be, they must be ascribed almost exclusively to the aloes, of which the canella is merely a corrective. Canella is also an ingredient in the Wine of Rhubarb (Vinum Rhei, U. S.).