Quinine is a naturally occurring white crystalline substance that is found in the bark of the cinchona tree. It has fever reducing, antimalarial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Quinine has a bitter taste and is found in very small quantities in tonic water. When exposed to direct sunlight quinine becomes florescent. For many years the main use of Quinine was to treat malaria, let’s examine what quinine is used for in the world today.
Uses of Quinine
- Quinine is no longer the primary medicine for malaria treatment. However, it is still used in areas where other synthesized malaria drugs are not available, such as third world countries. It is still sometimes used in extreme cases of malaria.
- Quinine was also formally used as a treatment for night time leg cramps. While this is no longer recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a doctor may still prescribe this treatment in some cases.
- Quinine is used to flavor tonic water and bitter lemon carbonated drinks in many countries in the world. Quinine is used in both France and Italy in bitter alcoholic beverages that are served with meals. In France, quinine is an ingredient of an aperitif known as quinquina. In Canada, quinine is an ingredient in the carbonated chinotto beverage called Brio. In the United Kingdom, quinine is an ingredient in a beverage known as Irn-Bru. In South Africa, quinine is an ingredient in the carbonated drink brand Schweppes. In Australia, quinine is added in McDonalds Sprite beverage.
- Quinine is used in photochemistry due to its fluorescent nature and its stability. It is the standard by which fluorescence is measured.
- In some cases it is used as a cutting agent in illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin.
- Quinine is used as a treatment for a condition known as cryptocaryon irritans, which is an infection contracted by aquarium fish.