Cinchona pubescens - Quinine 

Found in Tropical Corridor Glasshouse at Chelsea Physic Garden

Cinchona pubescens is the source of quinine, an anti-malarial compound and the flavouring in tonic water. It is native to South and Central America, including Jamaica, from where Sir Hans Sloane brought its life-saving compounds to England in 1688. Quinine can prevent and cure malaria. It is thought that Cinchona pubescens has been grown at the Garden for at least 300 years.

It has a long history of use by indigenous people, 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. 70-80% of the total alkaloids contained in the bark are quinine.

Largely replaced by synthetic drugs in the latter half of the 20th century, quinine has again become very important in treating malaria because various strains have developed resistance to the synthetics.

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