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Botanical Name : Cinchona calisaya
Synonyms: Jesuit’s Powder. Yellow Cinchona. Cinchona ledgeriana (Howard.) Bern.Moens. ex Trimen. Cinchona officinalis Auct.
Common Name: Peruvian Bark, Quinine
Habitat : Cinchona calisaya is native to western S. America – Bolivia, Peru. It grows on cool, humid, mountain regions. Andean rainforests.
Cinchona calisaya is an evergreen tree growing to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a medium rate. The flowers are white and pinkish arranged in panicles, very fragrant. Not all the species yield cinchona or Peruvian bark.
Its great value as a tonic and febrifuge depends on an alkaloid, quina (Quinine). This substance chiefly exists in the cellular tissue outside the liber in combination with kinic and tannic acids. Calisaya yields the largest amount of this alkaloid of any of the species – often 70 to 80 per cent of the total alkaloids contained in the bark which is not collected from trees growing wild, but from those cultivated in plantations. The bark for commerce is classified under two headings: the druggist’s bark, and the manufacturer’s at a low price. The great bulk of the trade is in Amsterdam, and the bark sold there mainly comes from Java. That sold in London from India, Ceylon and South America. Mature Calisaya bark has a scaly appearance, which denotes maturity and high quality. It is very bitter, astringent and odourless.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
A plant of the moist tropics, where it is found at elevations from 400 – 3,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 17 – 24 degree centigrade but can tolerate 7 – 28 degree centigrade. It can be killed by temperatures of 5 degree centigrade or lower. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,500 – 3,000mm, but tolerates 1,400 – 3,800mm. Requires a well-drained, moist soil and a position in full sun or partial shade. It grows very poorly or not at all on soils that have been exposed to fire. Prefers a pH in the range 5 – 6, tolerating 4.5 – 6.5. Plants start flowering after 3 – 4 years, and are uprooted and harvested after 8 – 12 years. In commercial plantations, the trees are coppiced when about 6 years old.
Seed – Nodal softwood cuttings. Cuttings of half-ripe wood in a sandy soil.
Constituents: The bark should yield between 5 and 6 per cent of total alkaloids, of which not less than half should consist of quinine and cinchonidin. Other constituents are cinchonine, quinidine, hydrocinchonidine, quinamine, homokinchonidine, hydroquinine; quinic and cinchotannic acids, a bitter amorphous glucocide, starch and calcium-oxalate.
Quinine, extracted from the bark of the tree, is used as a bitter flavouring in tonic water and carbonated drinks.
Peruvian bark has a long history of native use, especially as a treatment for fevers and malaria. Modern research has shown it to be a very effective treatment for fevers, and especially as a treatment and preventative of malaria. The bark contains various alkaloids, particularly quinine and quinidine. Up to 70 – 80% of the total alkaloids contained in the bark are quinine. The bark is a bitter, astringent, tonic herb that lowers fevers, relaxes spasms, is antimalarial (the alkaloid quinine) and slows the heart (the alkaloid quinidine). The bark is made into various preparations, such as tablets, liquid extracts, tinctures and powders. It is used internally in the treatment of malaria, neuralgia, muscle cramps and cardiac fibrillation. It is an ingredient in various proprietary cold and influenza remedies. The liquid extract is useful as a cure for drunkenness. It is also used as a gargle to treat sore throats. Large and too constant doses must be avoided, as they produce headache, giddiness and deafness.
Other uses rating: Low (2/5). The powdered bark is often used in tooth-powders, owing to its astringency.
Known Hazards : Care must be taken in the use of this herb since excess can cause a number of side effects including cinchonism, headache, rash, abdominal pain, deafness and blindness. The herb, especially in the form of the extracted alkaloid quinine, is subject to legal restrictions in some countries.
Disclaimer The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.