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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Volatile Oils

Cinnamon is the dried inner bark of the coppiced shoots of Cinnamomum zeylanicum Nees., belonging to family Lauraceae.






Cortex cinnamoni, Ceylon cinnamon, Saigon cinnamon, Chinese cassia, Cinnamomum aromaticum, Cinnamomum laurus.


Biological Source


Cinnamon is the dried inner bark of the coppiced shoots of Cinnamomum zeylanicum Nees., belonging to family Lauraceae.


Geographical Sources


Cinnamomum zeylanicum is widely cultivated in Ceylon, Java, Sumatra, West Indies, Brazil, Mauritius, Jamaica, and India.


Cultivation and Collection


Cinnamon is cultivated by seed propagation method, about four to five seeds are placed in each hole at 2 m distance between the plants. The tree grows best in almost pure requiring only 1% of vegetable substance. It prefers shelter and constant rain of 75” to rainfall. Cinnamon is an ever-green tree grows from 20 to 30 feet high, has thick scabrous bark, strong branches. The field is kept away from weeds and the plant is coppiced few inches above the ground, leaving five to six straight shoots on them. The bark is loosened and the longitudinal incisions are made using copper or brass knife. The barks arc stripped off and made into bundles and wrapped in Coir. The bundles are kept aside for about 2 hours to facilitate fermentation due to enzymatic action. The fermentation helps in the loosening of the outer layer up to pericycle. Each strip is taken and then they are scraped using a knife to separate the cork. The pieces are dried and they are categorized and packed one inside the other. Then compound quills are made by packing the small, quills into larger ones. They are cut into pieces of 1 m length and dried first under shade and later under sun. During drying, the original pale colour changes to brown due to the presence of some pholobatannins in the bark




Cinnamon are either in single- or double-compound quills, with a size of 1 m length, 0.5 mm thickness, and 6 to 10 mm diameter. The outer surface has yellowish brown colour having longitudinal lines of pericyclic fibre and scars and holes representing the position of leaves or the lateral shoots. The inner surface is darker than the outer. Cinnamon has a fragrant perfume; taste aromatic and sweet.

                  Leaf and bark of Cinnamomum zeylanicum




The transverse section shows the presence of three to four layers of sclereids which are horse shoe shaped consisting of starch grains. The pericyclic fibres (6 to 15) are present on the outer margin. It consists of sieve tubes which are completely collapsed and are arranged tangentially; lignified phloem fibres, arranged as tangential rows of four to five cells; biseriate medullary rays with needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals; longitudinally elongated idioblast consisting of volatile oil; sub-rectangular parenchyma cells with starch grains and calcium oxalate crystals.


            T.S. (schematic) Cinnamon bark

          Transverse section of Cinnamon bark

Chemical Constituents


Cinnamon contains about 10% of volatile oil, tannin, mucilage, calcium oxalate and sugar. Volatile oil contains 50 to 65% cinnamic aldehyde, along with 5 to 10% eugenol, terpene hydrocarbons and small quantities of ketones and alcohols.


Chemical Tests

1.     A drop of volatile oil is dissolved in 5 ml of alcohol and to it a drop of ferric chloride is added, A pale green colour is produced. Cinnamic aldehyde gives brown colour with ferric chloride, whereas eugenol gives blue colour.


2.     The alcoholic extract is treated with phenylhydrazine hydrochloride, it produces red colour due to the formation of phenylhydrazone of cinnamic aldehyde.




It is used as an alterative, aromatic, carminative, flavouring agent, analgesic, antiseptic, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, demulcent, digestive, expectorant, stomachic, diaphoretic, antibacterial, antifungal, etc. It stops vomiting, relieves flatulence and is given with chalk and as astringents for diarrhoea and haemorrhage of the womb. It is also used in the treatment of bronchitis, colds, palpitations, nausea, congestion, and liver problems.


Other Species


Cinnamon cassia is often used as a substituent. C. culiawan is native of Amboyna and the bark has the flavour of clove, C. iners, Cassia burmarin, Saigon cinnamon, and C. nitidum are also used.


Marketed Products


It is one of the ingredients of the preparations known as Rumalaya gel, Koflet lozenges, Chyavanprash (Himalaya Drug Company), Garbhapal ras, Sutsekhar ras (Dabur), and Sage Staminex capsules (Sage Herbals).


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