Cassia Bark

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Volatile Oils

Cassia is the dried stem bark of Cinnamomum cassia Blume., belonging to family Lauraceae.






Chinese cinnamon, Cassia lignea, Bastard cinnamon, Cassia aromaticum, Canton cassia.


Biological Source


Cassia is the dried stem bark of Cinnamomum cassia Blume., belonging to family Lauraceae.


Geographical Source


It is Indigenous to China, Cochin and Assam. It is also cultivated in Ceylon, Japan, Sumatra, Java, Mexico, and America.




The collection is done from cultivated plants. The trees are allowed to grow for 6 years and then the branches which are about 3 cm thick and 40 cm long are cut. The twigs and leaves are stripped off, then two longitudinal slits and three to four transverse ring cuts are made. The barks are stripped off. Then cork and some parts of outer cortex are peeled off by running a small plane over it. The bark is then dried, packed in bundles of 30 to 40 cm long weigh-ing half kg and exported.




The barks are either channelled pieces or as single quills; the size of drug ranging from 6 to 40 cm long, 1 to 2 cm in width, and 1 to 3 mm in thickness. The fractures are short. The outer surface is dark reddish-brown, smooth with rather rough patches of grey cork. The inner, surface has fine striations. The flavour is more pungent, less sweet, and delicate and slightly bitter than that of cinnamon. The bark may be distinguished from that of cinnamon, because they are thicker, coarser, darker, and dull.




Periderm is the outer layer; cork consists of few layers of both thin-walled and thick-walled cells. The inner thick-walled cells are lignified. Cortex consists of 10 to 15 layers of parenchyma with sclereids isolated or in groups and starch grains. A well-developed belt of sclereids occur between the primary and secondary phloem. Cassia has the lignified and pitted sclereids as its characteristic feature. The secondary phloem consist of phloem parenchyma which is thin-walled, containing abundant starch; isolated or group of phloem fibres embedded in phloem parenchyma and one- to three-celled medullary rays consisting of the starch and acicular raphides.


Chemical Constituents


Cassia bark yields 1 to 2% of volatile oil. It also has about 80 % cinnamyl acetate, cinnamic acid, caryophyllene, phenylpropyl acetate, orthocumaric aldehyde, coumarin, tannic acid, and starch. Eugenol is absent. The value of the drug depends on the percentage of cinnamic aldehyde present in it.





Cassia is used as carminative, mildly astringent, stomachic, decreasing the milk secretion, and emmenagogue. It is used in uterine haemorrhage, menorrhagia, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting. The Cassia oil is a powerful germicide, local stimulant also prescribed in flatulent colic and gastric debility.


Chemical Test

1.     Cassia gives a deep blue black colour when a drop of tincture of iodine is mixed with fluid ounce of a decoction of the powder.


2.     The cheaper Cassia can be distinguished by the greater quantity of mucilage present, which can be extracted by cold water.


3.     Cassia oil contains coumarin which gives strong green-blue fluorescence on addition of alkali.


Other Species


Cassia burmanii Blume or the Java or Batavia cinnamon; they have a slightly aromatic odour and aromatic and mucilaginous taste; it can be distinguished by the presence of tabular crystals of calcium oxalate which are not found in other cinnamon barks. C. inners, C. lignea, C. sintok, C. obtusifolium, C. culilawan, C. loureirii, C. pauciflorum, C. inserta, C. nitidum are some of the commonly available species of cinnamon.


Marketed Products


It is one of the ingredients of the preparations known as Diakof, Koflex, Abana (Himalaya Drug Company), Shukra Matrika Bati (Baidyanath), and Madhudoshantak (Jamuna Pharma).


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