Cinchona Officinalis also known as Peruvian bark or quinine bark tree is a medicinal plant. It is native to mountains of Andes of South America and Amazon rain forest. There are 38 species of this plant but only three varieties are used for medicinal purposes, i.e., cinchona officinalis, cinchona calisaya and cinchona pubescens. The bark of Cinchona tree contains 25 alkaloids (chemical substances), out of which quinine, quinidine, cinchonine and cinchonidine are used in medicinal drugs. Quinine has been used as a drug for reducing fever and inflammation for several centuries, especially in Malaria cases. Furthermore, the alkaloid quinidine in the cinchona bark is known to be a cardiac depressant and lowers the heart rate and alleviates irregularity of heartbeat thus alleviate palpitations in people with such cardiac problems.
Medicinal properties of cinchona were first discovered by the people of Peru and Bolivia who used its bark infusion as a muscle relaxant to stop shivering as a result of low temperature. * Amazonian tribes have used plant extract of cinchona officinalis as an herbal remedy in cases of flu, fever, hangovers, dyspepsia, diarrhea and dysentery.
Cinchona Officinalis has antiviral, anti-malarial, febrifuge, tonic, astringent, and stomachic properties. It has also been used:
- to aid digestive system by stimulating saliva and gastric juices, increase appetite and treat other stomach problems,
- to treat blood vessel disorders including hemorrhoids, varicose veins and leg cramps,
- in eye lotions to numb pain, kill germs or as an astringent,
- in hair tonics to stimulate hair growth,*
- in toothpaste as a remedy for mouth and throat diseases,
- as an antiseptic and anti-bacterial compress to heal boils, abscesses, pimples, bruises and muscle cramps,
- as an infusion for gargle to ease the pain of a sore throat, mouth sores and bacterial infection,
- as a tonic to heal liver, spleen and gallbladder diseases; to treat common cold, influenza, malaria, ease the pain of muscle cramp and cancer.*
Homeopathic Cinchona Officinalis, commonly called “China” is an extract of the bark of Cinchona tree. It has a great historical importance in homeopathy as it was the first remedy used as homeopathic proving for malaria done by the founder of homeopathy, the German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1790. Dr. Hahnemann made himself the subject of experimenting the bark of cinchona and observed that it gave rise to symptoms that were comparable to those of malaria. Hence, the “law of similar” was discovered that was the birth of homeopathy.
Hahnemann used quinine to develop the homeopathic remedy China, which has eventually turned out to be a major cure for malarial symptoms as well as anemia and fatigue owing to loss of body fluids (as a result of bleeding or dehydration) or prolonged ailment. Besides various conditions as mentioned above, china is also used to cure copious sweating, trembling and flushing accompanied with or without fever, headache, neuralgia, insomnia and chronic arthritis. Furthermore, china is also one of the three major medicines in homeopathy, for the gas and bloating due to digestive disorders.
Homeopathic preparations are considered safe, but it is always better to consult a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner before using any type of medication, especially in chronic diseases.