Quinine is extracted from Cinchona Tree bark, native to the Andes, but which the British exported throughout the Empire. Cinchona Tree bark had been used by the Aztecs to treat fevers. It was apparently used to cure the wife of the Spanish viceroy of Peru in 1638, Countess Anna del Chinchon, and thus the name given later to the tree.
It has a very bitter taste.
Quinine is used in malaria treatment. Quinine tablets contain anywhere from 200 to 350 mg of Quinine. A sample treatment is 2 x 300 mg Quinine tablets every 8 hours for 7 days.
Quinine is also used to prevent night-time leg cramp in bed.
It is also used in flavouring Tonic Water. 8 oz (240 ml) of Tonic Water has about 27 mg of Quinine in it.
Quinine is also present in Bitter Melons.
The British in India used Quinine as a malaria cure. Quinine will destroy the parasites, but not completely, so treatment had to continue. So, to get past the taste, they'd mix it in with their favourite tipple -- gin. They got to like the taste combination, and eventually Tonic Water was created, which has Quinine in it.
Quinine was supplanted for a few decades in the mid-1900s by synthetic drugs, until malaria parasites became resistant to them . Now Quinine is being used as a treatment again in some parts of the world.
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