Cinchona tree : Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Cinchona tree : Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Both species of the cinchona tree are originally endemic to the Andes (Colombia to northern Peru) but are threatened with extinction there due to overexploitation. The tree has long been cultivated in Southeast Asia, South Africa and South America. The drug comes mainly from imports from Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Africa.

The dried trunk and branch bark of 10-12-year-old trees are mainly used for drug production.

Cinchona tree: Typical characteristics

The cinchona tree is a forest tree that grows up to 20 m tall and has elliptical, undivided leaves up to 30 cm long. The inconspicuous flowers are up to 2 cm long and light pink.

Cinchona bark is obtained not only from Cinchona pubescens (drug: red cinchona bark) but also from Cinchona officinalis (drug: factory bark or yellow cinchona bark). Today, most of the trees grown are vegetatively propagated crosses of the two species.


bark as medicine

The drug’s components are approximately 2-6 mm thick, slightly tubular curved pieces of bark. Outside, the pieces of bark are often covered with lichen; the colour is grey to grey-brown. On the other hand, the inside is more reddish-brown; it is finely striped lengthwise and fibrous.

Cinchona bark gives off a relatively faint, peculiar odour. The taste of cinchona is very bitter.

Cinchona tree – application

Cinchona bark is used for digestive problems such as bloating and flatulence and as a bitter tonic for loss of appetite.

The drug is also used to treat malaria; however, this indication does not appear in the Commission E monograph.

Ultimately, cinchona is also said to have an analgesic effect. The natives of the Andes already used the bark to reduce fever.

Folk medicine application

Today, the plant is used in folk medicine primarily as a bitter agent to promote gastric juice secretion and appetite stimulation and treat influenza infections.


Cinchona in homeopathy

The Quinine contained in cinchona is used in homoeopathy as a tonic for anaemia and the resulting headaches. It is also used for disorders in the gastrointestinal tract with flatulence, gallstones, liver swelling, nervous disorders and sexual irritability.

Other application areas are cardiac excitation, bleeding, fever and diseases of the sensory organs, such as weak vision and hearing loss.

Constituents of cinchona tree

Cinchona contains 5-15% alkaloids and 30-60% quinine-type alkaloids. Other alkaloids that occur include quinidine, cinchonine, and cinchonidine. A higher proportion of Quinine can usually be detected in the stem bark than in the branch or root bark. The bark also contains about 8% catechin tannin and tannin precursors, bitter substances of the triterpene type, glucosides and traces of essential oil.


For what indications is the cinchona tree used?

The cinchona tree is used in the following cases:

  • indigestion
  • indigestion
  • bloating
  • gas
  • loss of appetite
  • Malaria
  • infected flu

Cinchona tree – dosage

Cinchona bark is taken in the form of bitter-tasting preparations. The administration of tea in the form of tea is hardly joint today. Extracts from the crushed drug used to be part of some combination preparations, for example, in the tonic “Jägermagen N”, which is no longer on the market today.

There currently needs to be finished medicinal products on the market. Quinine is also found in beverages like Bitter Tonic.

Cinchona tree: what dose?

Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is 1-3g of the drug. For extracts, 0.6-3g China fluid extract with 4-5% total alkaloids or 0.15-0.6g China fluid extract with 15-20% total alkaloids can be used accordingly.


Preparation of cinchona tree

To prepare the tea, about 1 g of the drug (1 teaspoon corresponds to about 1.7 g) is poured over with boiling water, left to steep for 10 minutes, and passed through a tea strainer.

A cup of tea should be drunk about 30 minutes before meals to stimulate appetite and after meals for indigestion.

Cinchona bark contraindications

Cinchona bark should not be taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding if you have stomach or intestinal ulcers or are hypersensitive to cinchona alkaloids.


What is to be considered?

Sensitization to Quinine or quinidine is possible. Therefore, Cinchona bark should only be taken over a shorter period.

The drug should be stored dry and protected from light.

Cinchona tree – synonyms


German plant name: Chinarindenbaum

German synonyms of the plant: Fever bark tree, Kalisya tree

Latin plant name: Cinchona pubescens VAHL

Latin synonyms of the plant: Cinchona succuba Turkey ex Klotsch, Cinchona succuba

German drug name: Chinarinde

German synonyms of the drug: Red cinchona bark, fever bark

Latin drug name: Cinchonae cortex

English name: Red cinchona, Cinchona bark, Jesuit’s bark, Peruvian bark, Red cinchona bark, Quinine

Plant family Latin: Rubiaceae

Plant family German: blushing plants


Cinchona tree – effect

The alkaloids in cinchona benefit gastric secretion and are, therefore, mainly used today to stimulate appetite and treat digestive problems.

Quinine also affects the metabolism and DNA of various parasites, including the pathogen that causes malaria. Because of this effect, Quinine used to be the primary drug used in the treatment of malaria.

Cinchona tree: side effects

Hypersensitivity reactions such as skin allergies and fever can occur when taking Quinine. In rare cases, there is also a reduction in blood platelets (thrombocytopenia) and, as a result, an increased tendency to bleed. In these cases, a doctor should be consulted immediately.

Long-term or overdosed use of cinchona bark can lead to so-called “cinchonism”, which can manifest itself in the occurrence of headaches, skin rashes, blurred vision, ringing in the ears or stomach and intestinal ulcers.


Interactions with cinchona bark

Concomitant administration with cinchona bark can increase the effectiveness of anticoagulant medication.


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