CascarillaBotanical Name: Croton Eleuteria (J. BENN.)
Family: N.O. Euphorbiaceae
Synonyms: Sweetwood Bark. Sweet Bark. Bahama Cascarilla. Elutheria. Clutia Eleuteria. Cascarillae Cortex. Cortex Thuris. Aromatic Quinquina. False Quinquina.
Part Used: The dried bark.
Habitat: The Bahama Islands.
Click on graphic for larger image History: The name Croton comes from a Greek word meaning 'a tick,' and Eleuteria from the name of one of the Bahama Islands, Eleuthera, near Providence Island.
Description: It is a small tree rarely reaching 20 feet in height, with scanty, alternate, ovate-lanceolate leaves, averaging 2 inches long, closely-scaled below, giving a metallic silver-bronze appearance, with scattered, white scales above. The flowers are small, with white petals, and very fragrant, appearing in March and April. The scented bark is fissured, and pale yellowish brown. It is imported from Nassau, in New Providence.
The quills of dried bark average 2 inches in length, and 3/8 inch in thickness. They are often furrowed in both directions, so that they appear to be chequered. The outer, thin, corky layer is white, often covered with a fine lichen ( Verrucaria albissima). The second layer is brownish, and sometimes shows through. The bark is hard and compact, breaking with a short, resinous fracture. The taste is nauseating, warm and bitter, and the odour agreeable and aromatic, especially when burned, resembling weak musk, so that it is used in fumigating pastilles, and sometimes mixed with tobacco, though in the latter case some regard it as being liable to cause giddiness and symptoms of intoxication.
The leaves can be infused for a digestive tea, and the bark yields a good, black dye.
Constituents: There have been found in the bark albumen, tannin, cascar illin (a bitter, crystallizable principle, soluble in alcohol, ether, and hot water), red colouring matter, fatty matter with a sickly odour, volatile oil, gum, wax, resin, starch, pectic acid potassium chloride, a salt of calcium, and lignin.
The oil contains an alcohol, two sesquiterpenes, a free acid consisting of liquid cascarillic acid and a mixture of solid palmitic and stearic acids, eugenol, a terpene (differing from pinene), cymene, and possibly some l-limonene. Betaine has also been found.
Medicinal Action and Uses: An aromatic, bitter tonic, with possibly narcotic properties. It is used in dyspepsia, intermittent and low fevers, diarrhoea and dysentery. It is a stimulant to mucous membranes, and in chronic bronchitis is used as an expectorant; while it is valuable in atonia dyspepsia, flatulence, chronic diarrhcea, nocturnal pollutions, debility and convalescence. Added to cinchona, it will arrest vomiting caused by that drug.
Dosages: Of Cascarilla powdered Bark, 20 to 30 grains. Of Infusum Cascarillae (B.P. 1 OZ. to 1/2 pint), 1 to 2 fluid ounces. Of Tinctura Cascarillae, 1/2 to 2 fluid drachms. Of fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm. Tincture, B.P. 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Croton Cascarilla, the Wild Rosemary of the West Indies, was at first thought to be the source of the Cascarilla of commerce.
C. Pseudo-China, or Copalchi Bark, of Mexico, also known as Copalche Bark or C. niveus, resembles C. Eleuteria so closely that it can be mistaken for it. It is used in the same way. A second variety, more bitter, may be a product of C. suberosus.
It has also been mistaken for a variety of cinchona.
C. micans is thought to have similar properties.
White, red, and black Cascarillas are also found in commerce, differing in form and properties, but these are other names for varieties of quinquina.