Under the above name, the U. S. Pharmacopoeia recognizes two products, the proper cinnamon gathered in Ceylon, and another kind brought from China, and known in commerce by the name of cassia. These may be conveniently distinguished, in reference to their commercial origin, as Ceylon cinnamon and Chinese cinnamon. It is the latter which is most commonly found in our shops, being brought to this country directly from Canton. The former is used only in small proportion, and generally comes to us by special order from England. It is the only variety recognized in the British Pharmacopoeia. Cinnamon was known to the ancients.


Ceylon cinnamon is the prepared inner bark of Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, a tree growing wild in the East India island of Ceylon, where it is largely cultivated. The tree has been introduced into other tropical countries, and is cultivated to a considerable extent in the French province of Cayenne in South America. When the tree has attained a proper age, the stems are cut and decorticated; and the bark, deprived of its epidermis, is allowed to roll into quills, which are inserted one within another, so as to form a solid cylinder.

Chinese cinnamon or cassia is the inner bark of a species of Cinna-momum growing in China, which is believed to be the C. aromalicum, though certain knowledge upon this point is wanting.

Sensible Properties. Ceylon cinnamon is in cylindrical fasciculi, each consisting of a congeries of quills, inserted one into another, and, when unbroken, several feet in length; distinct fasciculi being neatly joined end to end, so as to appear as if of one piece. This variety is of a yellowish-brown colour, almost as thin as paper, smooth, somewhat shining, pliable, and of a splintery fracture. Its odour is very fragrant, and its taste warm, pungent, sweetish, slightly astringent, and exquisitely grateful.

The Chinese variety is in single tubes, of which the finest differ little in appearance from the cinnamon of Ceylon, but by far the greater proportion are larger, thicker, deeper-coloured, rougher, denser, and of a shorter fracture. The pieces are often much rolled upon themselves, but sometimes not completely quilled. The odour and taste are of the same general character; but the former is less agreeably fragrant, and the latter less sweet and grateful, though equally or more pungent, and more astringent.

In both varieties, the powder is of a yellowish-brown colour, so characteristic that, when met with in other bodies, it is distinguished by the name of cinnamon colour.

Active Constituents. These are a peculiar volatile oil, and tannic acid, the latter of which is not in large proportion. The oil is separated by distillation with water; being generally prepared in the East, probably from the broken fragments and refuse barks. There are two kinds of oil, distinguished as oil of cinnamon and oil of cassia, the former obtained from the Ceylon, the latter from the Chinese bark. Both oils, as first procured, are of a fine yellow colour; and both become red by age. The flavour of the proper cinnamon oil, however, is sweeter and finer than that of the oil of cassia. Both, when oxidized by exposure to the air. yield cinnamic acid.

Cinnamon yields its virtues in small proportion to water, and much more freely to alcohol.

Medical Properties and Uses

This bark has in a very high degree the general properties of the aromatics, with some astringency, dependent on the tannic acid. It is among those most employed. It is used for all the purposes of the aromatics (see page 315), but most frequently in conjunction with other medicines, to qualify their taste, and render them more acceptable to the stomach. One of its most appropriate applications is to the treatment of diarrhoea, in association with other astringents and with chalk; a purpose to which the tannic acid it contains especially adapts it. It has also been highly recommended in uterine hemorrhage. In consequence of its peculiarly agreeable flavour, it is used as a constituent of a great number of officinal preparations.


Cinnamon is sometimes administered in powder, in the dose of from ten to twenty grains. It is often, in this state, associated with other medicines given in the same form.

The Aromatic Powder of the Pharmacopoeias (Pulvis Aromaticus, U. S.) consists of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg; a very fine combination of spices. From ten to thirty grains of this may be given for a dose. It is occasionally applied externally in the form of cataplasm, which may be prepared by adding a little heated spirit so as to bring the oil into activity, and rendering the mixture adhesive by honey or other viscid substance. Such a cataplasm may be advantageously applied to the epigastrium in vomiting, and over the whole abdomen in the cholera of children.

An officinal Confection (Confectio Aromatica, U. S.) is prepared by incorporating the aromatic powder above referred to with clarified honey. It may be used for the general purposes of the aromatics, in the dose of from ten grains to a drachm.

An infusion of cinnamon may be made by macerating two drachms in a pint of boiling water, and given in the dose of one or two fluidounces; and the bark may be added to other substances in infusion in the same proportion. When added to decoctions, it should be introduced at the end of the boiling, but while the liquid is still boiling hot.

The Oil of Cinnamon (Oleum Cinnamomi, U. S.) is never used alone, in an undiluted state; as, independently of its extreme pungency, it might endanger serious irritation, if not inflammation of the stomach. In overdoses it may prove fatal. Mitscherlich killed a dog in forty hours with two drachms, and in five hours with six drachms. But, made into emulsion with gum arabic, loaf sugar, and water, it will produce all the effects of cinnamon except those dependent on its astringency; and may often be administered advantageously as a stomachic and carminative. It is, however, more frequently employed in solution, in one of the following forms. The dose of it is one or two drops.

Cinnamon Water (Aqua Cinnamomi, U. S.) was formerly made by distilling water from cinnamon, and this is recognized in the U. S. Pharmacopoeia as an alternative process; but it is now much more generally and conveniently prepared by dissolving the oil in water, through the intervention of carbonate of magnesia, as described under the general head of aromatics (see page 317). Although only thirty minims are employed to two pints of water, the resulting solution is too strong for ordinary purposes, unless diluted. It is chiefly employed as a menstruum or vehicle for other medicines, given in liquid mixture or solution; but, when used for this purpose, it should generally be diluted with an equal measure or double its measure of water. The dose of this aromatic water is from half a fluidounce to a fluidounce.

Spirit of Cinnamon (Spiritus CinnamomI, U. S.) is prepared by dissolving a fluidounce of the oil in fifteen fluidounces of stronger alcohol. The dose is from ten to twenty drops.

A Tincture of Cinnamon (Tinctura Cinnamomi, U. S., Br.), prepared, according to their ordinary method, both by the U. S. and British Pharmacopoeias, affords an agreeable mode of obtaining the effects of the aromatics, with the astringency of the cinnamon, when alcohol is not contraindicated. The dose is from one to four fluidrachms.

The two following barks, though little used, are noticed in most works on Materia Medica, and, as appears to me, can be nowhere more appropriately considered than as subordinates to cinnamon.