Benefits of Quinine: Why Use Quinine Supplements?
Wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium), also known as wild feverfew, has a long history of use in medicine. People have been utilizing the bark of the Quina tree for almost four hundred years. They used to make tea by brewing the bark and preparing infusions to support their health. In this article, we will go over the ways in which quinine can benefit your well-being.
What Is a Quina Tree?
The Cinchona tree, more commonly known as the Quina tree, is the source of the quina. It is a plant of the madder family – an evergreen tree of medium size with reddish bark and large dark-green, leathery leaves with pronounced veins.
The flowers of the Cinchona tree look like umbrellas, collected in wide-pyramidal panicles, similar to lilac brushes. The trees bloom from June to September in hot, sunny locations. The plant is especially valuable for its support of native bees.
How to Use a Quina Tree
There are several dozen species in the genus, but not every Quina tree can become a source of quinine. So, biologists and pharmacologists carefully study species and choose the ones that can be used for medical purposes.
Cinchona bark (Cortex Chinae) is extracted from both cultivated and wild plants. Usually, if you leave the tree to grow, after a while, new bark will appear in place of the removed one. But sometimes, the bark is taken from the entire trunk and branches, which means that people need to cut down the trees.
As a medical product, both Cinchona bark in powder form and the quinine alkaloid extracted from it are used. The bark is first dried in the sun and after that in dryers at a temperature of 80°C. To obtain quinine, it is then ground into powder and mixed with slaked lime and 5% caustic soda. Pure quinine is a white crystalline, which is an extremely bitter powder.
The Cinchona tree grows in Central and South America; more precisely, it is native to the tropical Andean forests. These trees grow there, in the mountain forests, commonly at an altitude of 800-1700 meters above sea level. In the north, trees do not take root because the winters are too cold.
Quinine was used as a muscle relaxant and tonic water by the Quechua people, the indigenous tribes of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
Currently, Indonesia and India are the main producers of quinine oil. The quinine bark with the highest quinine content is grown in Tanzania, Kenya, Guatemala, and Bolivia.
Thanks to the benefits of quinine,the use of Quina bark powder has spread across the globe. Today, you can find a quinine supplement (tincture or quinine capsules) in many pharmacies and e-commerce stores.
Quinine As a Remedy for Malaria
Speaking of the historical use of quinine, it was the first drug used to fight malaria, and it is still used today, along with synthetic medicines. Malaria was a serious threat from the early 1900s until World War II. Malaria was a life-threatening issue caused by a parasite that is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes.
The emergence of quinine as a drug was a blessing for humanity. The bark alkaloid was taken in the form of quinine tablets or injections, and it saved the lives of millions of people.
Even though medicine has developed, and there are currently more efficient alternatives, it is still necessary to take care of the world’s forests to secure a vital supply of Cinchona trees. This is an integral part of our sustainable development, connecting nature with humans.
Properties and Benefits of Quinine
The most useful properties of quinine taken from the Cinchona tree include the following:
- Antimicrobial effects;
- Analgesic effects;
- Astringent effects;
- Beneficial effect on digestion;
- Lowers the body temperature;
- Eliminates the excitability of the heart;
- Helps to normalize the heart rate;
- Inhibits the activity of the nervous system;
- Stimulates appetite.
In the food industry, it is used as a flavor additive to impart bitterness. Quinine is commonly added to non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beverages. Quinine is contained in the famous French bitter wine Dubonnet and quinine tinctures Byrrh and Picon.
If you are interested in improving your health, you can find quinine extract in our herbal supplement store. Supplements are available in stores, but you need to have a consultation with your doctor first.
What Is Quinine Good for?
Initially, quinine was used to combat malaria and its symptoms, but today it may also be suitable in other cases. Indications for the use of quinine are headaches, neuralgia, postoperative pain, and feverish conditions caused by infections.
Quinine for cramps could be used because of its analgesic properties; however, its effect is controversial. There is little evidence that infusions or pills are effective in this exact situation, so it should not be considered a routine remedy for nocturnal leg cramps or other muscle spasms.
There are also quinine benefits for lungs. Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney found that chloroquine and quinine, substances that stimulate bitter taste buds, were very successful at preventing and mitigating lung abnormalities.
Quinine benefits for lungs are now being examined through various experiments with cells from mice and humans. Researchers have suggested that quinine may have potential benefits for lung health thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Potential Side Effects
Quinine is a biologically active substance, and its uncontrolled use can lead to undesirable effects. Excessive consumption can cause side effects of quinine – these could be headaches, blurred vision, changes in color vision, sweating or flushing, ringing in the ears, or upset stomachs. The standard rule is not to take too much. Quinine is not prescribed for pregnant women to combat inflammatory processes.
Now you know what quinine is. The Quina tree is rich in quinine, quinidine, and other alkaloids, as well as bitter glycosides and tannins. Quinine has antipyretic, analgesic, antiviral, antiarrhythmic, antispasmodic, antiseptic, and several other important effects thanks to its properties.