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Cinchona succirubra (Rubiaceae)

PERUVIAN BARK, JESUIT'S BARK, QUININE TREE

 

The Spanish learnt of the power of quinine from the Peruvian Indians when they invaded South America. The bark and extracted quinine are still widely used to prevent and treat malaria today.

 

The Jesuits appear to be the first to have used it as a fever medicine in Europe, and it soon became the renowned preventive and cure for malaria. A perennial tree native to the jungles of the west coast of South America, it is now cultivated for medicines in India, east Africa, and the East Indies. It grows to 25 m (80 ft), and has egg-shaped leaves and clusters of small crimson flowers.

 

PARTS USED

Bark.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Quinoline alkaloids, including quinine, quinidine, and cinchonine; glycosides; tannins; quinic acid.

 

ACTIONS

Antimalarial; astringent; reduces or prevents fever; stimulates digestion; reduces muscle tension and spasm.

 

MEDICINAL USE

Used to prevent and treat malaria. Also given for liver conditions associated with an enlarged spleen, anorexia, indigestion, hyperchlorhydria (excessive stomach acid production), cramps, myalgia (muscle pain), and fevers with excessive temperature. It has also been used to help prevent flu. In orthodox medicine, the active ingredient quinine is prescribed as an antimalarial and for muscle cramps, and is in several over-the-counter painkilling and cold remedies. Quinidine is given for certain types of cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beats).

 

PREPARATIONS

Decoction, tincture, pharmaceutical tablets and injections.

 

CAUTION

Large doses should he avoided.

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