If you need to go in for medical treatment that involves the use of quinine or wish to consume products that contain quinine then you should know all about what is quinine. It is certainly important to understand more about this potent drug as well as its side-effects.
Quinine is extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree. The malaria-fighting abilities of this bitter-tasting drug were discovered by the Quechua Indians several centuries ago and its popularity soon reached the shores of Europe, USA, and the rest of the world where malaria was rampant. While quinine was primarily used to treat malaria during the seventeenth century, it was also used to treat arthritis, lupus, as well as leg cramps since it also acted as a muscle relaxant while possessing anti-inflammatory properties too.
Quinine was administered orally in the form of quinine sulfate tablets and also delivered in intravenous form to patients including children that had contacted malaria. Adults usually had to consume around 600 mg of quinine sulfate per day during treatment in order to kill the P.Falciparum parasite.
However, over time several studies done to locate various side-effects of quinine unearthed alarming facts. Quinine was known to cause several side effects such as an irregular heartbeat, blurred vision, vomiting, diarrhea, and many more. Patients would certainly need constant cardiac as well as blood glucose monitoring during treatment. After a surge in complaints to the FDA regarding the dangerous side effects of quinine, this drug was finally banned in the USA for medical treatment, except in specific cases while also being allowed to be included in non-medical products.
Quinine was thus allowed to be used in tonic water where its main function was to impart a bitter-sweet taste to the fizzy carbonated drink. Natural quinine was a better choice since many people also claimed that these low levels of quinine in tonic water did help to alleviate painful leg cramps and even migraines. Thus, quinine now attained global popularity in non-medical products even as it seemed to solve several medical problems in tonic water lovers.
On the other hand, voices were also raised about the dangers of tonic water with quinine as some people felt that the ill-effects of quinine would affect regular tonic water drinkers too. However, the amount of natural quinine used in tonic water is very less and is also much below the prescribed levels of the FDA. People that already suffer from heart diseases, diabetes, or have a fragile digestive system should consult their doctor before gulping down tonic water with quinine.
Anyway, since any product consumed in excess could be harmful, quinine infused tonic water too should be sipped in moderate quantity and a glass or two every day could refresh your mind while also offering a chance to check if your leg cramps do reduce in intensity with each delicious sip.
Quinine would indeed have been that perfect drug derived from natural sources. However, this drug does have its share of undesired side effects that could cause problems when taken during medical treatment. On the other hand, non-medical use of quinine that requires very small quantities of quinine might actually end up helping people with leg cramps. Your new-found knowledge on what is quinine might certainly help you to make an informed decision if you too suffer from leg cramps or are simply in search of delicious tonic water with a unique flavor.