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  • Quinine is native to almost all eastern United States

    Quinine: The plant-based medicine that saved millions of lives

    05 August 2016 (8442 visits)

    More than 7000 medical compounds currently prescribed by physicians in Western culture are derived from plants, and some experts estimate that there are more than 21,000 medicinal plants in the world’s remaining tropical forest ecosystems.


    Perhaps the most historically important medicinal plant family of all is the tree genus known to science as Cinchona. While most people will not have heard of the Cinchona genus, they will certainly have heard of the alkaloid produced from it bark: quinine, used for centuries to treat malaria, as well as other ailments.  


    The Spanish learned of the medicinal properties of the bark of the Cinchona from the Quechua-speaking indigenous people they conquered in the early 16th century, and they quickly adopted it in the treatment of the tropical fevers to which the European invaders were all too susceptible.


    Quechua people routinely mixed the ground bark of the Cinchona with sweetened water, to counter the bark’s bitter taste, thus creating the first tonic water; that essential ingredient in the gin and tonic, a beverage created by British officers in India, who first added gin to their quinine to mask its unpleasant taste. Quinine is used to this day as an ingredient in tonic water.


    The people of Peru had already been using quinine for countless generations, in the treatment of infections, inflammations, fever and pain, when in the 17th century it was used to treat the wife of the Spanish viceroy for malaria. Her recovery helped lead to the widespread use of quinine to combat malaria.  The name selected for the genus in the 18th century by the great botanist Carl Linnaeus is derived from the name of this illustrious patient, whose title was the Countess of Chinchon. The countess is credited with introducing the bark to Spain, from where its use quickly spread across the European continent through the wide-reaching influence of the missionaries of the Jesuit order. Eventually, the Jesuits took their cure for malaria as far afield as China and Japan, encouraged the establishing of plantations back in Peru, and were the first to plant the trees beyond South America in the 19th century.


    It was the Jesuit order which first produced a powdered form of quinine for the treatment of malaria. “Jesuit’s bark”, along with “Peruvian bark”, was one of the names by which this medicine was known among the apothecaries of 17th century London.


    Unfortunately, while drugs to treat malaria are now produced synthetically, historic over-exploitation of the Cinchona genus has led to all its 17 species being classified as endangered in Peru, while Cinchona officinalis, the species featured so prominently on the nation’s coat-of-arms, is said to be on the verge of extinction. 


  • quinidine Instagram posts (photos and videos) -




    The History of Quinine as Anti-Malarial Medication - AEGLE PHYSIC

  • wild quinine

    wild quinine


  • quinine /

  • We've ingested many hard-to-pronounce ingredients in our lives, and quinine is definitely one of them. Pronounced kwahy-nahyn, this bitter alkaloid isn't one of those suspicious, scary ingredients lurking in your favorite gummy candies -- actually, we have quinine to thank for our favorite cocktail, the gin and tonic (among other things).

    Quinine was originally used as a malaria treatment during the days of colonial India. Naturally found in the bark of the cinchona tree found in the Peruvian Andes, one legend of its discovery claims that a South American Indian suffering from malaria took a drink from a pool of water contaminated with cinchona tree and it cured his fever. Regardless of exactly how it was discovered, the first documentation of its use as malaria is recorded in 1630 in Peru. It continued to be used for its antimalarial properties until the 1920s, when other drugs with fewer side effects took its place, like chloroquine. That's almost 300 years of use. And somewhere along the way, quinine found its way into our cocktails.

    We spoke to Jordan Silbert -- founder of the fancy soda and tonic company, Q Drinks -- and here's how he recounts quinine's transition from treatment to cocktail:

    In 1825 clever -- or drunk, depending on how you look at it -- British officers in the Indian Army improved this bitter medicine by mixing it with soda water, sugar, and gin. Instead of drinking the medicine with their troops at dawn, the officers figured out how to enjoy it at cocktail hour. The original gin and tonic was born, and it soon became the quintessential drink of the British Empire.

    Today, quinine is rarely used for medicinal purposes. The FDA recently banned its use as a cure for leg cramps due to the negative side effects that can result from ingesting large amounts, such as headaches and fever. Some bad reactions to quinine have even been fatal.

    Scary, we know. But don't let that deter you from ordering a gin and tonic next time you're at the bar, because tonic water contains very low levels of quinine. A glass of tonic water holds roughly 20 mg of quinine, whereas a dose for the treatment of leg cramps would be in the 200 to 300 mg range.

    Investigation: What's In Gummy Worms?
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  • Very interesting advice and so important to be aware of...I mentioned the same exact thing he said at the end...of what happened in Germany...

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