ingredient information
Quinine is a drug which is made from the bark of the Cinchona tree. A number of various other chemicals can also be synthesised from Cinchona, and these include cinchonine, cinchonidine and quinidine. Even before the 1600s, the Peruvian Indians used an infusion of Cinchona bark to treat fever, and soon it was recognised that Cinchona bark was also effective at treating and preventing malaria. At that point of time, no one actually knew that the potent ingredient was the alkaloid quinine. It was not until 1820 (200 years after the bark was introduced into Europe for the treatment of malaria) that quinine was isolated from the bark of the Cinchona tree. Aside from the treatment of malaria, quinine has also been used as a flavouring, and it provides the bitter taste in tonic water. In fact, "gin and tonic" was originally consumed in the past to prevent attacks of malaria (Upfal,1991). Gradually however, natural quinine has been replaced by chemically synthesised drugs such as chloroquine and mefloquine, and quinine is now rarely used to treat malaria. However in recent years, with increasingly drug-resistant strains of malaria surfacing, quinine is once again showing promise for use in the treatment of malaria.