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Quinine - History

cinchona bark seeds trees

South American Indians have been using cinchona bark to treat fevers for many centuries. Spanish conquerors learned of quinine's medicinal uses in Peru, at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Use of the powdered " Peruvian bark" was first recorded in religious writings by the Jesuits in 1633. The Jesuit fathers were the primary exporters and importers of quinine during this time and the bark became known as " Jesuit bark." The cinchona tree was named for the wife of the Spanish viceroy to Peru, Countess Anna del Chinchón. A popular story is that the Countess was cured of the ague (a name for malaria the time) in 1638. The use of quinine for fevers was included in medical literature in 1643. Quinine did not gain wide acceptance in the medical community until Charles II was cured of the ague by a London apothecary at the end of the seventeenth century. Quinine was officially recognized in an edition of the London Pharmacopoeia as "Cortex Peruanus" in 1677. Thus began the quest for quinine. In 1735, Joseph de Jussieu, a French botanist, accompanied the first non-Spanish expedition to South America and collected detailed information about the cinchona trees. Unfortunately, as Jussieu was preparing to return to France, after 30 years of research, someone stole all his work. Charles Marie de la Condamine, leader of Jussieu's expedition, tried unsuccessfully to transfer seedlings to Europe. Information about the cinchona tree and its medicinal bark was slow to reach Europe. Scientific studies about quinine were first published by Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland in the first part of the 18th century. The quinine alkaloid was separated from the powdered bark and named "quinine" in 1820 by two French doctors. The name quinine comes from the Amerindian word for the cinchona tree, quinaquina, which means "bark of barks." As European countries continued extensive colonization in Africa, India, and South America, the need for quinine was great, because of malaria. The Dutch and British cultivated cinchona trees in their East Indian colonies but the quinine content was very low in those species. A British collector, Charles Ledger, obtained some seeds of a relatively potent Bolivian species, Cinchona ledgeriana. England, reluctant to purchase more trees that were possibly low in quinine content, refused to buy the seeds. The Dutch bought the seeds from Ledger, planted them in Java, and came to monopolize the world's supply of quinine for close to 100 years. During World War II, the Japanese took control of Java. The Dutch took seeds out of Java but had no time to grow new trees to supply troops stationed in the tropics with quinine. The United States sent a group of botanists to Columbia to obtain enough quinine to use throughout the war. In 1944, synthetic quinine was developed by American scientists. Synthetic quinine proved to be very effective against malaria and had fewer side effects, and the need for natural quinine subsided. Over the years, the causative malarial parasite became resistant to synthetic quinine preparations. Interestingly, the parasites have not developed a full resistance to natural quinine.

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over 3 years ago

Extremely interesting to expand our knowledge of this wonderful South American plant.

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over 6 years ago

who was it

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over 6 years ago

but who was the first person to dicover quinine and what was his background like