- Family Rubiaceae
- Cinchona species
- Quinine, Peruvian Bark, Jesuits Bark, Fever Tree
- Spanish: Quina Roja, Quina Rojo, Chincona
- Some such sensitization can occur as eczema and itching.
- Because of the possibility of thrombocytopenia, care must be taken when administering the herb with other medications known to produce the same effect.
- Do not take during pregnancy.
- If there is heart disease, do not take unless under professional supervision.
- Excessive use can lead to nausea, deafness, and other physical problems.
Native to the mountainous tropical regions of South America, especially Peru, it is now grown in India, Java, and parts of Africa, and extensively cultivated on tree farms. The herb is obtained from an evergreen tree, reaching eighty feet, having reddish bark and leaves that grow to twenty inches. The bark is removed from six to eight-year-old trees and then dried in the sun. The annual production of cinchona bark has been estimated at about 8,000 tons per year.
Known as the best source for the synthetic drug quinine, it has been used for centuries and was the most widely consumed antimalarial remedy in the world.
For centuries, the plant was used by Peruvians, including the Incas, to treat malaria, digestive problems, and fevers. It is also known to stimulate salivary secretions and digestive juices.
It was the Incas who taught the Spanish how to cure fevers with the bark. In 1640, the wife of the Viceroy of Peru, the Condesa de Chincón, sent word back to Spain extolling the wondrous powers of the bark. The remedy soon became known as “chincona” in her honour. Later, when the Jesuits brought large quantities of the powdered bark back to Europe, it was sold as “polvos de la condessa”, the countess’s powders.
Various Cinchona species, including calisaya, ledgeriana, and officinalis, are used medicinally.
The Peruvians have taken cinchona for many centuries to treat fevers, digestive problems, and infections.
Quinine was the principal remedy for malaria until WWI; but, from the 1960s onward, resistance of the malarial parasite to the synthetic drug, chloroquine, led to the rise again of quinine’s use.
- reduces and stablizes heart rate
- reduces fever
- stimulants saliva and gastric juices
- alkaloids (up to 15%) mainly quinoline alkaloids (quinine, quinidine)
- indole alkaloids (cinchonamine)
- bitter triterpenic glycosides (quinovin)
- quinic acid
- Bark of the trunk, branches, and root
- The bitter principal is cinchona, which produces a reflex stimulation of the digestion as a whole.
- Quinidine is a cardiac depressant known to reduce the heart rate and improve irregularity of the heartbeat.
A decoction is a well-known remedy for fevers.
Gargles made from decoctions are used for sore throats.
Tinctures are strongly bitter and prescribed to improve digestion.